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By Hedgebrook Staff

Cooking Up Stories

We asked Betsy Andrews, food writer, poet, Executive Editor of Saveur Magazine, and Hedgebrook alumna, to answer five questions. Here’s what she had to say about herself, her work and her upcoming Master Class:


1) What is the most memorable meal you’ve experienced?

There’s not one! There are so many. And, of course, when we talk about food, we are not just talking about the aroma, the taste, the texture of the edible stuff you put in your mouth and chew and swallow. We are talking about a meal—a social and cultural and emotional event. Eating is very personal. It’s just about the most primal thing we do, and so it is, for a writer, a vehicle for the evocation of experience, of feeling and knowing oneself and the world. It is metaphor, and it is fact. Every story we tell about food is also a story about something, or many things, else.   Read more

By Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende

On Facing my Creative Self, Cushioned by Love


Mid December I got the news that I had been accepted for the 2014 Hedgebrook Writers’ Residency. I was over-the-moon ecstatic. For a mother of 4 energetic daughters and a wife, this was a precious gift and as the months rolled on I lived for those two precious weeks in July. After a 6 hour flight from Detroit on July 3, a shuttle ride from Seattle, and a ferry ride onto Whidbey Island, I was met in the town of Freeland by warm hearted Julie, who drove me to Hedgebrook farm. More warm and open hearts welcomed me. I met Laurel, a writer from the Philippines sitting contentedly on a swing with her computer enjoying the outdoors. I later learned that this was her favorite spot. I was given a tour of the property, through the farm house which housed a library in a cozy family room, a kitchen and the revered farm house table.   Read more

By Shannon Hopkins

One Hundred Words A Day

One hundred words a day — a promise I made to myself. They are born by forceps, or by Caesarian section. They arrive after hours of labor, slippery with blood and vernix and shit. They come out blue and still, and the doctor turns away from me. They come out screaming, with an APGAR score of nine, and the doctor tells me to be patient as he cuts the cord. They present as breech, or get stuck and won’t budge, or slide out so fast the doctor doesn’t need to turn the shoulders and almost drops them. Sometimes labor is short; breathing controls the pain. Sometimes it is induced, after pre-eclampsia sets in, and the pain is indescribable; I tear the sheets with my teeth and beg for comfort. After the birth, after the cord is cut and the fingers and toes are counted and the weight and length recorded, after that… after that… there is the flood of something joyful and welcoming and strange.   Read more

By Jennifer Munro

Drano Dreams and the Writing Mind

I went nine months without REM sleep.

This must be an exaggeration (me? exaggerate?). I recall a general truth that a few nights without REM leads to insanity.

So maybe it’s not an exaggeration.

What I know is that suddenly, for the past few nights, I’ve swirled deeply once more into the darkness of REM: I’ve had to perform in a play for which I’ve not read the script, which I have to (unsuccessfully) piece together from crumpled up wads of paper before hitting the stage (thankfully not naked).   Read more

By Jenny Kurzweil

15 Minutes


“Just bring a notebook with you wherever you go,” Erika said and then took a bite of the sea salt caramel glazed doughnut we were sharing, followed by a slug of coffee.

Erika Schickel and I were having breakfast at an impossibly hip diner in downtown Los Angeles; one that I joked was way too cool for my nerdy self.

“We’ll become hip by osmosis,” Erika assured me. “Who knows, we might even walk out of here with tattoos and beards.”   Read more

By Rita Gardner

Fog and Flow on the Path to Publication

A few weeks ago on a mountain hike, a friend who has been following my writing journey asked me enthusiastically: “So, now that you’ve finished writing your book, are you in bliss until it gets published?” At the time we were slogging along a very foggy trail on Mt. Tamalpais near San Francisco. While that trek often provides vistas of rolling hills, the blue Pacific and a glimpse of islands far out to sea, we were so shrouded in mist that day I often lost sight of the hikers ahead of me. Not a good idea. On these trails we are cautioned not to get too far behind our group, so as not to accidentally become coyote or mountain lion “bait.”   Read more

By Jen Marlowe

Troy Davis: The Human Price of the Death Penalty

This piece was originally published on Tikkun Daily and can be accessed here.

It was September 21, 2011. I stood on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, holding Troy Davis’s younger sister on one side and his teen-aged nephew on the other, with other supporters wrapping us all in a tight circle of prayer, as we waited in agonizing tension to learn whether Troy Anthony Davis would be killed by the state of Georgia that night.

He was.   Read more

By Shobha Rao

The Alder Tree

It was yellow, shaped like a balloon, and at the far edge of the meadow.  I sat at the window seat in Oak Cabin, all day and most of the night, watching it.  It was not more or less beautiful than the rest of the grounds at Hedgebrook:  the cattail pond, the cedar grove, the farmhouse with its warm kitchen, the silent trees that stood so still and majestic, but this tree drew my attention.  It was at the very end of my line of vision, and though I didn’t know the names of any of the trees, I really only wanted to know the name of this one.  I realized I could’ve asked anyone – anyone at all – and learned the name.  But I never did.  I didn’t have to.  It would reveal itself to me, as I revealed myself to it.  Through the long, hushed nights, when the crackle of the fire was the only sound, I would stare at the tree and wonder.  All those empty roads, all those aching years, writing and writing and writing.  Wondering if they would ever come to anything.  Wondering if I was good enough, talented enough, lucky enough.  Hedgebrook was the greatest gift I had ever received in my writing life, yet what if it was the last of my share?   Read more

By Deborah Davis

Just show them the page. See what happens.

A friend recently wrote a lovely blog piece for Hamline University’s “The Storyteller’s Inkpot”  about the surprising delights we may encounter—in travel, in writing, in life—when our plans don’t go as expected. That prompted me to think about surprises I’ve encountered when my teaching plans don’t go as expected. Or, as in the case I’m about to describe, when my lack of planning leads to some pleasant—and useful—surprises.   Read more

By Leah Lax

Hedgebrook Taught Us These Things

Upstairs my desk faces a broad window that looks out over the Oregon coast just north of Tillamook, where two silhouettes are strolling the wet beach that looks like a mirror and a wag-tailed dog is running around them, into the foaming surf and back again. Six of us Hedgebrook alums have created our own little writing retreat in the Oregon Writers’ Colony Colonyhouse in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We sleep each night with the steady low ocean roar as backdrop to our dreams.   Read more

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