Monday, March 13, 2017

Doing it Backwards: From Performing to Writing

By Noa Baum

On Tuesday, March 14, meet author and storyteller Noa Baum as she opens this year’s Washington Jewish Literary Festival. Baum combines performance and text from her recent memoir A Land Twice Promised: An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace in an unforgettable experience. Click here for more info and a 20% discount on the event.

Between December of 2014 and December of 2015, I dove into a whole new world. I always knew that writing was different from storytelling but I never imagined it would be so different. When I write, it’s for speaking engagements, and the written words are just the sketch—a scaffold upon which the story is created as I tell it.

When I tell stories about my mother, I don’t need many words to describe her. I use my voice infused with her intonation, pitch, and volume; my facial expressions, gestures and body language. And then the words she says and her personality come alive. But when I sat down to write about my mother, I suddenly had to find words for everything. How does one even begin to describe a voice so central to her entire personality!?

This was just one of the challenges during my most fascinating journey of writing. It also included delving into old journals I haven’t opened since high-school; resurrecting old conversation transcripts with my Palestinian friend; and daring to have a conversation with my brother that I never had before.

In my Author’s Note that opens the book, I write:

This book is my attempt to shed light on how people experience and remember history. Not all people, just me and one Palestinian woman I met in America and our families. It is the story of our friendship and of my becoming a storyteller and using the art of storytelling as a peace-building tool.

In an attempt to explore the elusiveness of peace, I have gathered clues from memory’s secret hideouts to create stories. I try to give shape to the subtle and mysterious shifts in perception on my journey, from the secure black-and-white narratives of my childhood to the uneasy place of complexity where multiple narratives, ambiguities, and contradictions reside.

I also try to reconstruct my creative process as a storytelling artist to reveal the transformative power of my art form.

My hope is that this exploration will encourage you to deepen and expand your listening to “the other.” I hope it will inspire you to look at your own quest for peace and seek out more stories and encounters with those you see as most different from you or even as enemies.

I’m eager to share the fruits of this journey with you all—whether you’ve seen the performance of A Land Twice Promised or not—this book will enrich your experience. It will add more background and details about the lives of Israelis and Palestinians in this entrenched conflict, as well as invite you behind the scenes into the creative process.
Apr 5 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
MEET THE AUTHOR: NOA BAUM Book Discussion: “A Land Twice Promised: An Israeli Woman’s Quest For Peace” Wednesday April 5th, 2017 Temple Isaiah, 12200 Scaggsville Rd. Fulton, MD 6:30-7:15: Israeli style Dinner (*Advanced Payment Required) 7:15-8:30: Book Discussion/Q and A

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