Emily Rubin, a writer and a cancer survivor, builds communities through creativity and self-expression. Founder and organizer of Dirty Laundry: Loads of Prose, and the teacher of a writing workshop for cancer patients at Beth Israel Hospital, Emily sets up networks and encourages others to find their voices by letting their imaginations roam free.
A theater and dance major in college, Emily applied the confidence she gained as a performer to make bold moves in her writing, strengthening the characters she created, and the stories they fell into. It is this confidence that Emily instills in others, striving to find and share their own words.
Inspiration for her first novel Stalina came in 1997 while teaching an Oral History and Writing class in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Most of Emily’s students had immigrated to America from Russia earlier that century. It was the personal experiences her students shared that provided the groundwork for the book, which was published in 2011, after a writing hiatus Emily took following her diagnosis and subsequent recovery from breast cancer.
As a writer, Emily found that such a mental sport could sometimes be isolating. She craved the nurturing literary environments that once existed in her neighborhood, NYC’s Lower East Side. With escalating rents and gentrification, the cultural spaces in the community had all but disappeared. It was with this in mind that Emily founded Wash and Dry Productions, the producing organization for her project, Dirty Laundry: Loads of Prose.
Launched in 2005, Dirty Laundry: Loads of Prose is a “ground-breaking, suds-producing” reading series held in local Laundromats in and around the Lower East Side and in between washers and dryers in California, Colorado and Massachusetts.
The series gives writers an opportunity to read their works as they are still drafting, waiting to be published, or already published, to a public audience and supporters of the literary community. Why Laundromats? “The Laundromat is kind of an equalizer, everybody has to do their laundry. People from different backgrounds end up there together,” Emily explains. “It’s where laundry and language spin together to create a literary symphony.”
In addition to her work with Dirty Laundry: Loads of Prose, Emily brings a 10-week writing workshop to cancer patients at Beth Israel Hospital, where she received treatment. Once Emily was on the road to recovery and able to return to writing, she found that it gave her back some of the control she felt she had lost while battling the disease. It became more than just telling a story for her, writing became a part of her healing.
Through this workshop, Emily connects those struggling with cancer and brings them together in a creative and healing environment. The supportive and encouraging nature of the workshop gives participants a much needed break from the rigors of treatment, and the opportunity to forge an identity for themselves outside of their illnesses.
Emily’s continued commitment to sharing her love of writing with others, while engaging her community and helping others surely makes her a Woman You Should Know!
See you at the Laundromat… we’ll bring the bleach!
A Bit More
Emily’s novel Stalina was a pick in the Amazon Debut Novel Award Contest and a finalist in the International Book Awards. She is a past nominee for the Pushcart Prize, and the first recipient of the Sarah Verdone Writers Award. Emily is currently working on her second novel. You can connect with Emily here.
The writing workshops at Beth Israel Hospital are funded by Poets & Writers, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and through the Donors Fund of the New York Community Trust. For further information contact Akiko Miyake at 212-604.6098.Lead photo courtesy of Billy Tompkins