Helena Ameisen comes from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. She was born in Kraków, Poland and immigrated to Australia with her family in 1960 to escape the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. In secondary school she won literature prizes for poetry and writing. Attracted to exotic lands and cultures, she began diarising her adventures in her late teens, trekking solo through South East Asia, across the United States, Canada and to the edge of the Alaskan tundra in the middle of winter in the early seventies.
In Australia, Helena worked in human communication disorders as a Speech Pathologist, specialising in voice and doing voice-over work and acting in community theatre, films and television for the ABC and SBS. She also presented her film and theatre reviews on 2SERFM.
On a one year, round-the-world trip in 1981, she met her future husband – a much older Muslim businessman from Egypt. A tumultuous love affair ensued which changed the trajectory of her life. She married and moved to Egypt where she lived from 1985-2002. Whilst living in Egypt, her poetry was published in the Language of Memory, a part of the Under a Quicksilver Moon series.
After her husband’s untimely death in January 2002, she returned to Sydney with her two children. She began writing her memoir in a writers group at the NSW Writers Centre.
In 2013, she won a year’s mentorship from the ASA. She published some short stories with ‘That Authors Collective’(TAC) First Press and an anthology called ‘With Gusto.’ A fictional story under a pseudonym followed in an Anthology from the School of Arts and Humanities and another piece for Blessing the Page by Joanne Fedler Media.
She has presented her work at Balmain Institute and done a reading, interview and Q & A at Woollahra Library and for radio on 2 RPH. She is currently working on Book 2 of the memoir covering her eighteen years of married life in Egypt as a western woman of Polish-Russian, Jewish heritage married to a Muslim man seventeen years her senior.
They forged a strong and lasting bond, their love overcoming cultural, racial and religious obstacles. The memoir addresses the cross-cultural differences and challenges of interfaith relationships but is a message of hope by focusing on what unites rather than divides people; testament that social, cultural and religious obstacles can be overcome with love, tolerance and understanding and that peaceful coexistence can be achieved.
The manuscript for Book 1 of her memoir, ‘Maktoub – It is Written’ covers her love interest’s pursuit across the globe and their nine rendezvous culminating in marriage which results in a rift with her father who refuses to attend the wedding, then disowns and disinherits her. It will be ready for publication by the end of 2020.
You can download a podcast of Helena’s 2 RPH audio interview here.