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Speakers (2014)

APH 2014 Annual Conference
Believe It . . . Achieve It!

Henry "Hank" Greenspan, Ph.D., Psychologist & Playwright

REMNANTS, A One-Man Play
Thursday, October 23, 8:30 am

Image of Hank Greenspan Hank Greenspan, Ph.D.

Psychologist, playwright, author, and professor at the University of Michigan, Hank Greenspan is world-renowned for his documentation of the stories of survivors of the Holocaust atrocities in Nazi Germany. He is the author of On Listening to Holocaust Survivors: Beyond Testimony and coauthored Reflections: Auschwitz, Memory, and a Life Recreated.

REMNANTS, a play written by Greenspan, was originally produced for radio and broadcast on NPR stations across the United States. He has performed it as a one-man play on more than a hundred stages throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Britain, Israel, and the Czech Republic. His production has won more than a dozen theater competitions, including the Attic Theater Center of Los Angeles New Plays Festival, the Henrico National Competition, and the New Hope Performing Arts Festival, as well as numerous public radio awards.

REMNANTS will be the center of Dr. Greenspan's presentation to the APH Conference. His performance will be followed by an open discussion of the intense interviewing process he has developed to learn the depth of the Holocaust experience. He also will discuss his book, On Listening to Holocaust Survivors: Beyond Testimony (Paragon House, 2011), the principles of which are applicable to conversations with survivors of any catastrophe. For more information about this versatile gentleman, visit the Henry Greenspan website.



Qais Akbar Omar, Author

A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story
Friday, October 24, 8:30 am

Image of Qais Akbar Omar Qais Akbar Omar

Qais Akbar Omar was seven years old when his hometown of Kabul, Afghanistan, became a war zone. A Fort of Nine Towers (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April 2013) recounts his family's sojourn of escape from a brutal civil war and Taliban rule. Omar will share his long journey and testify about the power of stories to embolden, console, and bind a family together in the face of almost unimaginable odds.

It was not accidental to the war that the weaving of carpets became the family's mainstay, a powerful story in itself. Today, Omar runs the family carpet business. And as a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado, he researched eco-sensitive methods of carpet production. He also studied at Brandeis University, earned an MFA at Boston University where he taught a writing class for graduate students, and was accepted into Harvard University in January 2014. Meanwhile, this industrious author managed to find time as well to write the lead essay in the 2012 anthology, That Mad Game: Growing Up in a War Zone, and to coauthor Shakespeare in Kabul with Stephen Landrigan.

Evidence that three decades of war have not broken the spirit of the Afghan people is found in this young man's survival and achievements. Carpet designer, businessman, and storyteller, Omar will weave a rich tapestry of terror and survival, humor and humanity—all within the rich context of the amazing culture of Afghanistan for attendees of the APH 2014 Conference. You can read a review of his work published by The Washington Post.



Steve Luxenberg, Author & Washington Post Editor

The Delicacy of Probing Family Secrets
Sunday, October 26, 8:30 am

Image of Steve Luxenberg Steve Luxenberg

Steve Luxenberg is the author of the multi-award winning memoir Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret. The book recounts his efforts to uncover the story of his Aunt Annie—who was institutionalized for thirty-one years—and his mother's decision to hide Annie's existence from the family.

Annie's Ghosts discloses more than the calculated invisibility of the aunt he never knew. Underneath the author's words, the clash between privacy and history and the challenges of interviewing reluctant secret keepers are revealed. Annie's Ghosts is, as APH Regions Director Susan T. Hessel wrote in the Spring 2013 issue of APH Perspectives, “an unexpected how-to guide for Personal Historians.” The book has gained the attention of mental health practitioners, genealogical societies, book clubs, civic organizations, and more.

Luxenberg joined The Washington Post in 1985 and succeeded Bob Woodward as senior editor of the Investigative/Special Projects staff in 1991. Totally ascribing to the 2014 conference theme of Believe It . . . Achieve It, Luxenberg believes that "achieving is the message . . . and achieving it without harm to family relationships" is the foundation of The Delicacy of Probing Family Secrets. To learn more about this accomplished writer, visit the Steve Luxenberg website .