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photo: Rick Loomis, LA Times

Louise Steinman is a writer, artist and literary curator. Her work frequently deals with memory, history and reconciliation. Her book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War was cited as “A graceful, understated memoir… that draws its strength from the complexities it explores.” (New York Times Book Review) and “…an intimate and powerful story of the effects of war.” (James Bradley, author, Flags of Our Fathers). The book won the 2002 Gold Medal in Autobiography/Memoir from ForeWord Magazine and has been the selection of several all-city and all-freshman reading programs. The book chronicles her quest to return a war “souvenir” to its owner and-- in the process-- illuminates how war changed one generation and shaped another.

Her first book, The Knowing Body: The Artist As Storyteller in Contemporary Performance (North Atlantic Books)—was hailed by the L.A. Times as a “dazzling study of the performing arts.” The Knowing Body is based on two decades of Louise’s experience as a performer/director with So&So&So&So interdisciplinary theater troupe, and as a dance/theater critic for publications ranging from Willamette Week to High Performance, Oakland Tribune and others.

The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation was published in hardcover and paperback, by Beacon Press. She has given talks and lead dialogue groups about the book around the United States, in Poland and the UK.

Her essays and feature articles have appeared in the The Los Angeles Review of Books; Los Angeles Times Magazine, New York Times Syndicate, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine,, Washington Post and other publications. Her features have included profiles of Zen rabbis, Syrian refugees, artists, memoirists, combat veterans, translators, filmmakers, elevator operators and an innovator in deaf education. “Ordinary bodhisattvas,” she calls them.

She was the founder of the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library series for the Los Angeles Public Library. ( and curated the series for twenty-five years. She frequently interviewed visiting authors. Among interviewees are Helen Macdonald, memoirist Hisham Matar, poet Jane Hirshfield, Terry Tempest Williams, Aleksandar Hemon, Salman Rushdie, Father Patrick Desbois, Diane Ackerman, Maira Kalman, Roz Chast, Susan Griffin, Eva Hoffman, Adam Zagajewski, Maxine Hong Kingston, Michael Ondaatje, and others.  Louise is also co-director of the Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities at USC. She was Senior Creative Advisor for the Sundance Institute Arts Writing Program and is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Ms. Steinman was a 2013 and 2015 resident artist at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida, where she wrote "On an Island: Doing Rauschenberg Time." She was a 2018 writing fellow at Ucross Foundation in Sheridan, WY and is an artist-in-residence at San Francisco's Firehouse. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Maymudes Family Foundation, Danish Arts Council and Adam Mickiewicz Institute. In 2019 she received the Chora Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts from Metabolic Studio.   She recently collaborated with artist Dorit Cypis on an installation and social engagement project-- WELCOME THE STRANGER-- in Lublin, Poland for the 2019 Open City Festival. 

She lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles on a north-facing slope within view of Silver Lake Reservoir, with her husband, sculptor Lloyd Hamrol.

"Louise Steinman's story is heroic in all the old senses of the word: a journey of a literal sort; a journey into the terrible past; and a journey into her own soul. Unblinking, scrupulous and enduring." --Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight