Hedgebrook LogoHedgebrook Logo

By Sharon Magliano

Fall into Writing With Women-Focused Writing Events

For writers, autumn can be a great time of inspiration. Days get shorter, the nights get cooler, and everything slows down. There is more time to nestle in with a favorite sweater, warm mug, and explore our creativity. It’s a wonderful time to come together with other women writers and revel in the gifts of the season.

While we are, of course, partial to our fall Master Class offerings, there are several women’s writing retreats, conferences, and festivals happening around the country for you to explore.

Festival of Women Writers

https://www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.com/

September 6-8, 2019

Hobart, New York

This Festival takes place in “the reading capital of New York State” and offers writing intensives, workshops, readings, and receptions.

Women’s Fiction Writers Association

https://www.womensfictionwriters.org/annual-retreat

September 25-29, 2019

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Women’s Fiction Writers Annual Retreat will feature talks and interactive lessons from novelist, speaker, and journalist Nicole Blades.

A Workshop for Women Writers of Color

October 6-10, 2019

Pendle Hill

Wallingford, PA

Pendle Hill is a Quaker retreat that welcomes all for spirit-led learning and community. Led by Melchor Hall, a black feminist scholar-activist, this workshop offers strategies for writing alternative epistemologies into, against, and through the canon.

Women Writing the West Conference

https://www.womenwritingthewest.org/currentWWWConference.html

October 10 – 13, 2019
San Antonio, Texas

Women Writing the West is celebrating its 25th year with the theme “Writing to Remember – Remembering Why We Write”. The conference features workshops, pitch meetings, editorial reviews, tours, and a reading from 2018 Texas Poet Laureate Carol Coffee Reposa.

C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference

http://www.cdwrightconference.org/conference.html

November 8-9, 2019

University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas

The mission of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is to recognize, promote, and encourage women-identifying writers with special emphasis given to writing inspired by or written in the south.

The conference includes writing workshops, panels, talks, and an editorial review of works in progress.

Fall 2019 Hedgebrook Master Classes

Master Classes combine Hedgebrook’s retreat experience with the unique opportunity to be in residence and study with a celebrated teacher on beautiful Whidbey Island.

We are offering several Master Classes for Fall 2019. Participation in each class is limited to 6-8 writers to ensure individual attention and create an intimate, supportive writing community.

Writing/Righting our lives:  releasing the fear and activating the fierce 

October 11-18

Led by: Amy Ferris

CLASS DESCRIPTION:

This is for all writers, all genres, all levels. This is for non-writers, or folks who don’t believe they are writers. This is for anyone. This class is not about the craft of writing, it is about the craft of living and telling our truth. Writing/Righting our lives: releasing the fear and activating the fierce. The stories we keep hidden, out of view, tucked away. The stories in diaries and journals scribbled on post-its and napkins that are in the back of a drawer hidden; the ones we are afraid to share. Those are the very stories we will bring to life and write about.

Apply here.

Beginners Mind: A Master Class to Turn Your Yearning to Write into Words

October 21-28

Led by: Heidi W. Durrow

CLASS DESCRIPTION:

This class is tailored for the person who has always wanted to write for a living and wants to grow their craft as a writer (focusing on character, voice, description, and scene) in addition to exploring how one develops their writing resume even before one publishes their first word. This class will emphasize generating new work through the use of writing prompts, guided in-class writing exercises and reading and discussion of literary models.

Apply here.

Take it to the Next Level

November 8-15

Led by: Erica Bauermeister

CLASS DESCRIPTION:

So, you have a first draft of your manuscript — now, what’s the next step?  This class will focus on the tricks and joys of editing, from the global (story arc and character development) to the lyrical (making those scenes/images/sentences sing) to the completely granular (commas and grammar and repetition, oh my). We’ll dig in, get messy, and find and polish the story waiting inside your manuscript.  Upon acceptance, students should arrive with a completed first draft along with an open mind, ready to receive and give constructive feedback.  Included will be a one-on-one session review of 30 pages of your manuscript.

Apply here.

Next Level Writing

November 18-25

Led by: Hannah Tinti

CLASS DESCRIPTION:

The solution to a piece of writing is always hidden just beneath the surface. In this editorial-focused workshop, we will dig deep, giving close reads to a piece of your writing (10-25 pages, max 6,000 words) and exploring each layer, from the seed of the idea that first inspired you to the places where you’re feeling lost or stuck. Together we’ll identify the strengths and weaknesses, shore up the structure, identify patterns and find ways to bring your work to the next level. 

Apply here.

Hedgebrook offers a variety of opportunities for writers to hone their craft year-round at our retreat on Whidbey Island, Washington. Click here to learn more. To learn about our online offerings, which brings our famous radical hospitality to you wherever you write, visit this link.

By Sharon Magliano

Back-to-school season self-care for your inner writer

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting crisp, and yellow school buses are once again dotting the morning commute. While back-to-school time as an adult may not mean getting a brand new backpack or lunch box, it can be a good reminder that we should take the time to recommit to intentional learning and self-nurturing.

Back-to-school is a great time to deepen a practice of life-long learning, and Hedgebrook’s online writing series gives you the opportunity to experience a transformative writing program on a schedule that works for you. We know that it’s not feasible for everyone to join us as Writer in Residence, or to attend one of our Master Classes – each of which requires a commitment of time away from day-to-day responsibilities. With our online writing series, we’ve made Hedgebrook’s radical hospitality available in the comfort of your own home and at a pace that fits with your busy life. We offer classes in a diversity of genres designed to ground your writing practice and hone your craft. Classes are taped at the retreat, with the teacher and a small group of writers in the room together, so you’ll experience the alchemy of solitude and community that makes a Hedgebrook residency unique. Online classes are open to all genders and all levels of experience. You can sign up at any time during the class offering period.

As a bonus, we also share elements of Hedgebrook’s retreat experience to inspire your writing, such as recipes from our farmhouse kitchen and chefs (like this one for a fall favorite, Hedgebrook Curry Carrot Soup), images from our land to print or use as a screensaver, and messages to energize your process. 

Learn about Hedgebrook’s current online writing class offerings here.

By Sylvia Arthur

Global Impact

One of the best things that happened when I opened my personal library to the public in Accra, Ghana, in December 2017, was also one of the first. It was on my second day when a small, shy teenager cautiously stepped through the door and into the middle of the space where she stood, transfixed, surrounded by books. “If I hadn’t brought her here today, she would’ve killed me,” her mum said, with a completely straight face. The girl remained stuck in her spot, her mouth slightly agape, oblivious to her mother’s obvious frustration. Recognizing her daughter’s state of suspension, the older woman resigned herself to her fate and took up residence in one of the tub chairs. “She’s so excited,” she said, gazing at her child. Pride had replaced annoyance.

When I told the girl she could borrow two books, her eyes glistened, as if tears werethreatening to form, and she immediately reached for Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists. I was so impressed by her choices that I insisted she take another. She was torn. She searched through the shelves, and eventually settled on two, flitting between Margot Lee Shetterley’s, Hidden Figures and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. She opted for the latter. I was now the one in awe. Behind the reserved exterior and deferential demeanor was a steely young woman who wanted to change the world. At that moment, I felt there was nothing left for me to do. My work was complete.

When I left Hedgebrook in the spring of 2017, I had no idea I’d venture from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf of Guinea and achieve a long-held dream. This cross-continental journey can, in part, be traced back to conversations I had around the fabled farmhouse kitchen table with fellow resident, Saskia, a German-Indian novelist who lived between the Two countries of her heritage. As someone who’s never been at ease in groups, I latched onto Saskia soon after I arrived and we talked for hours about the places we’d lived. I confided in her that I was thinking of leaving London, my hometown, for somewhere more livable, and she encouraged me to see Ghana, my parents’ homeland, as a viable option.

One of the things that made moving to Ghana easier was that the vast majority of my beloved book collection, over a thousand volumes gathered over 20 years, were already there. Since 2011, I’d routinely ship them to my mother’s house in Kumasi when I could no longer accommodate them in my London studio. Each time I’d visit, I’d feel an overwhelming sense of guilt that the books, primarily by writers of color, were just sitting there and not being read when there was a need for access to culturally-relevant, contemporary literature. The idea behind the library was twofold: to give Ghanaians access to books that weren’t easily obtainable and to amplify the voices of Black writers on the continent.

In the 18 months since the library opened, its objective has evolved. My focus now is as much on literacy as literature, and outreach to underserved communities is a core part of my work. In Ghana, illiteracy is high (30%), particularly among women and girls. 

During my time here, I’ve met some amazing women who are doing all they can, often at tremendous personal sacrifice, to improve the life chances of girls. Auntie Grace, a former teacher, who founded Gem Star School in the compound of her small home, is one such example. I donated about 300 books to the school and we worked together to create a library for its 500 pupils.

Every other Saturday, my colleague, Seth and I teach creative writing to a group of 6-15-year-olds there.We also organize reading and creative play sessions for the children of market women and a barbershop/hair salon program that rewards children with free hairstyles in exchange for reading. The impact is significant. I’ve seen lives transformed.

The beauty of being at Hedgebrook is that it refocused my mind, not just on my writing, but on the inequities in the world, I seek to challenge through my work. The library has allowed me to dispense the kind of radical hospitality I was privileged to receive at Hedgebrook to girls like 15-year-old, Afra, who affirmed me on that second day of opening. It’s this ethos I hope to embody in my outreach too, connecting with women and girls across Ghana and helping them feel they have a place to take up space in the world.

Please read more about Sylvia’s library by visiting libreriagh.com

Sylvia Arthur, second left, with a group of girls from her creative writing class at Gem Star School.

By Janine Kovac

Pollination

I’ll let you in on a secret.

Hedgebrook is not a place. 

Oh, sure, nestled in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, there is a place called Hedgebrook, a garden of inspiration and connection where every sensory detail feels like a metaphor: thick thorns on impenetrable blackberry bushes, the sound of kindling catching fire in a wood-burning stove. A bottomless cookie jar. Mt. Rainier glowing pink and purple in the distance.

But that’s just the location. What makes Hedgebrook Hedgebrook is not the gingerbread houses with writing desks and the Instagram-worthy banana slugs. Hedgebrook is a spirit. Specifically, the spirit of radical hospitality.

Which means that the Hedgebrook experience of inspiration and connection can happen anywhere.

My first Hedgebrook experience took place in 2016 at St. Mary’s Bridging: A One-Day Retreat in Moraga, California. I’d been to retreats before, but this was the first time someone handed me a key to a room all my own and said, “We value your voice. Here is the time, space, and nourishment, you need to write the story only you can write.”

It was like an artistic namaste. The authentic voice in me salutes the authentic voice in you.

Later that year I went to the “other” Hedgebook, the one with the gingerbread houses. The biggest difference between Moraga and the Meadow House? One day of radical hospitality planted a seed. Three weeks allowed that plant to take root and blossom.

When I returned home, a different kind of seed had been planted—the realization that if I wanted to, I could be a radical host. I could offer this experience to other women. The authentic voice in all of us flourishes with time, space, and validation.

Seed. Germinate. Grow. Pollinate. Artistic namaste.

I didn’t have access to a gingerbread house or a wood-burning stove. I didn’t even have access to space where each writer could have her own room. But I did belong to a women’s co-working space. I could hold a retreat of my own with treats, time to write, and a panel discussion on the impact of privilege on our writing. That became a 2017 Hedgebrook collaboration with the Hivery and Moxie Road Productions. Looking through my digital Rolodex, I came across a generous café owner (“Of course you can sell your book in my café!”) with a podium and a PA system. In 2018, I hosted a write-in and open mic that alternated between readings with Hedgebrook alums and audience members.

This year, my Moxie Road business partner, and I will participate in St. Mary’s annual Bridging event as part of a publishing panel. We’ll host another write-in and open mic this summer to coincide with Hedgebrook’s submission deadline.

It’s my way of sharing Hedgebrook, of showing what happens when you say, “I value your voice. I value your message. And here’s how I show it.”

Anywhere. From any of us. For all of us.

Radical hospitality. 

Hedgebrook.

“Seed. Germinate. Grow. Pollinate. Artistic Namaste”

By Kuri Jallow

Introducing 2018 Hedgebrook Alumnae ​

Chrissy Anderson-Zavala        

Academic/ Critical Writing, Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: 2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee

Chrissy has been working on a series of “unsendable” letters. These letters are an opportunity to time travel to ask the questions and point to the silences that cannot be. Each letter is necessarily a poem or a fragment of a poem, an attempt to leave a trace for the children of her family and community past and future.

Jamaica Baldwin                                                 

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: 2017 Jack Straw Writer’s Fellow

Publications: Poetry in Rattle; the Seattle Review of Books

Jamaica is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Pacific University Oregon. 

Clarisse Baleja Saidi

Political/ Activist Writing

Publications: The Professional Mourners, novel

Clarisse Baleja is an Ivoirian-born writer, of Rwandan and Congolese origins who holds Ugandan and Canadian nationalities. The daughter of refugees, most of her work explores interethnic and inter-sectional points of view. The Professional Mourners is primarily based in Cote d’Ivoire and reveals how women’s issues in the region were exacerbated by conflict: access to health care and education, marital abuse, the rise in homophobia, and other prejudices.

Jessica Rae Bergamino

Hybrid Poetry Memoir

Awards & Recognitions: Academy of American Poets Award, University of Washington in 2014

Publications: Unmanned (2018); The Desiring Object(2016); The MermaidSinging(2015); and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story(2015)

Jessica Rae utilizes dialogic and textual tropes from the Nancy Drew franchise to create a landscape where Nancy investigates the mystery of her girlhood. 

Piyali Bhattacharya

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: gold medals in the Independent Book Publisher Award and the Next Generation Indie Book Award

Publications: Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion (2016), book 

Piyali has published short fiction and nonfiction essays and is currently working on a novel, An Inventory of Errors.

Eiren Caffall

Creative Non-fiction

She is currently working on an environmental nonfiction book, THE MOURNER’S BESTIARY: Finding Hope at the Edge of Extinction, a story of extinction and personal loss, recovery, and hope. Eiren has published several essays, as well as recorded three albums, which she has performed nationwide. 

Claire Calderón

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Fellowships with VONA/Voices; a Graduate English “Place for Writers;”  Gender and Women’s Studies Award for Commitment to the Advancement of Feminist Ideals from Scripps College

Claire’s current project is a hybrid of memoir and historical fiction, based in Chile, where she is trying to juxtapose noise, prestige, and presence with the hidden and to use the stark contrast to draw out the truth. 

Lan Samantha Chang

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Diversity Catalyst Award, University of Iowa; PEN Open Book Award; John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction; and the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship

Publications: All is Forgotten, Nothing is LostInheritance: A Novel

She is currently working on a  Chinese American novel, an homage to The Brothers Karamazov, wherein she deals with issues of masculine domination, racism and self-hatred, hard work, and spiritual enlightenment.

Susan Choi

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: finalist for Pulitzer Prize; PEN/Faulkner Award; NYPL Young Lions Award; PEN/W.G. Sebald Award; Asian-American Literary Award; Lambda Literary Award

Publications: Trust Exercise: A Novel; she haspublished with HarperCollins Publishers and Viking; The New Yorker; The New York Times Book Review; All Things Considered; Washington Post Book World

Her current novel is based on the life of her grandfather, a prominent public intellectual in Japanese-occupied Korea during the 1930s and 1940s.

Teri Cross Davis

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry; Cave Canem fellow

Publications: Haint

She currently works as the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Chekwube Danladi                                               

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Brunel University African Poetry Prize;  Josephine M. Bresee Memorial Fiction Award 

Publications: Black Warrior Review; New Generation African Poets; Tangerine Review

Chekwube’s current work, a novel, follows a genderqueer Muslim youth coming of age in the gentrifying Washington, D.C. of the late 1990s/early 2000s.

Diana Delgado                                                      

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow

At Hedgebrook, she worked on a poetry manuscript currently titled, Late-Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust

Carina del Valle Schorske                                     

Non-fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Waiter Scholarship in Poetry; CantoMundo Poetry Fellowship; Academy of American Poets Prize

Publications: New York Magazine; Los Angeles Review of Books; Gulf Coast Journal; The Point Magazine

She is working on a collection of closely linked essays that hybridize memoir and criticism.

Elisabeth Finch           

Creative Non-fiction

Awards & Recognitions: 

Publications: Elle Magazine; Cosmopolitan

television writer, playwright, and essayist. She currently serves as a writer/Co-Executive Producer on Grey’s Anatomy. At Hedgebrook, she will continue working on her book, Done Behaving. It tackles years of groundbreaking clinical trials and inevitable minefields thirty-something women face in male-dominated medicine. It’s an irreverent, moving call to arms for anyone who has lost their voice in the face of illness.

Ellen Forney

Graphic Novel

Awards & Recognitions: Stranger “Genius” Award in Literature; “Best Graphic Novel of 2012” by Washington Post, Time, Publishers Weekly, and more

Publications: Marbles: Mania, Depression, MichelangeloMe: A Graphic Memoir; featured in The Guardian; Huffington Post; Morning Edition;  NPR; Ms. Magazine 

While at Hedgebrook, she worked on a self-help book/graphic memoir for teens with mood disorders. 

Tracy Fuad

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: 2016 Montana Prize in Nonfiction

Tracy is working on a manuscript currently titled Dictate Herthat explores the personal as political and the political as personal through the lens of her family history in Kurdistan, an imagined country that has been the site of violence, war, revolution, and re-imagining of the state.  

Gabrielle Fuentes                                          

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: “Best Fiction Books of 2016” by Entropy Magazine

Publications: The Sleeping World; several published short stories

She is currently working on Settler’s Point, a novel which reimagines Wuthering Heights as a Latina novel of passing. Her novel explores the great American myths of pioneering, racial purity, and independence.

Elizabeth Greenwood                                           

Non-fiction

Publications: Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraudfeatured in O, the Oprah Magazine; VICE

In her current nonfiction Love Lockdown,Elizabeth explores the “MWI” (met while incarcerated) experience and offers a new lens into the prison industrial complex. Each relationship profile opens up a window into an aspect of prison. 

Vero Gonzàlez

PoetryAutobiographical Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Touching Lives Fellow; an Iowa Writer’s Workshop Dean’s Graduate Fellow; Pratt Institute Thesis Prize in Fiction

At Hedgebrook, she will be working on finishing and revising her hybrid autobiographical novel, Or, which explores and recreates the messy and spiraling nature of healing from trauma. Oris a story about decolonization and healing from patriarchal and sexual violence.  

Shannon Humphrey                                              

Screenwriting

Publications: Skin Trials series,Hope Defined

While at Hedgebrook, Shannon will be working on a screenplay entitled, Glories of the Snow. The Glories are a secret society of powerful women who prevent global catastrophe, even if whole groups or tribes suffer fatally or brutally to advance the human race. 

Sandra Jackson-Opoku

Fiction        

Awards & Recognitions: Black Excellence Award in Literature, African American Arts Alliance; Gwendolyn Brooks, Henry Blakely Literary Award; American Library Association Black Caucus Award

Publications: Curbside Splendor Publishing; Obsidian Journal; Ballantine/One World

Sandra is currently working on a novel exploring Sino-African ancestral lineage inspired by an image she found while in Shanghai, of an African woman and Cantonese man in Guangzhou.  

Mira Jacob

Graphic Novel

Awards & Recognitions: Barnes & Noble Discover New Writer’s pick; named best book of 2014, The Boston Globe, Kirkus, Bustle, Goodreads and The Millions

Publications: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing; The New York Times; Guernica; Electric Literature; Vogue; The Telegraph

Mira is working on a graphic memoir Good Talk, and a novel, Dear Femina, about the toll white American feminism takes on one Indian-American family.

Ashley Jones

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Prize; the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award; Academy of American Poets College Prize

In her second full-length collection of poetry, Ashley is boldly exploring issues of race, class, and gender through a variety of forms. She feels a fiery desire to write the truth of what it means to exist in the world as a Black person today. 

Perri Klass                                                             

Creative Non-fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Numerous awards and two honorary degrees

Publications: The Mercy Rule: A Novel,The New York Times; The New England Journal of Medicine; Harvard Review

Perry is currently working on a series of thematically linked short stories and personal essays about writing and illness and the medical world, from her perspectives — as a physician, writer, medical journalist, patient, and caregiver. 

Michelle LaPena

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: 2015 Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship at IAIA American Indian College Fund

Publications: The Rumpus.net; News from Native California; Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine

Michelle is working on a novel called, The Fantasy Spring, which takes place on several Indian reservations and features siblings whose lives and experiences ultimately place them on a collision course that will change their family forever. 

Tsering Lama

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: two-time Columbia University Fellow (University Writing Program Teaching Fellowship, and Writing Fellowship)

Tsering’s current novel, In the Age of Constant Moving, spans over sixty years and follows a Tibetan family’s movement through exile and experiences of displacement and enduring connection to one another and the past. 

Amanda Leduc

Fiction

Publications: New Quarterly; littlefiction.com; thetoast.net; therumpus.net.

While at Hedgebrook, Amanda will be working on a collection of fabulist stories currently titled, The Resurrectionist and Other Stories. In each story, the appearance of otherworldly events operates as a force for the characters to grow and move beyond their current lives, asking “what does it take for a life to be different, to be extraordinary?” 

Denise Long

Fiction

Publications: Smokelong Quarterly; Blue Monday Review; The Tishman Review; Evansville Review; Burrow Press Review

At Hedgebrook, Denise will be working on her first novel. Having grown up in a small, rural town in Illinois, Denise is interested in exploring and better understanding the nuance and complexity of Middle America, and the stereotypes and assumptions that run rampant there. 

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Creative Non-fiction

Awards & Recognitions: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; the Rona Jaffe Award

Publications: The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir(Flatiron Books/MacMillan)

Alexandria is a trained, though non-practicing, lawyer who teaches creative writing in a public policy school. Her current work is based on the struggle over the narrative of the genocide in Cambodia.

Susan Meyer

Children’s

Awards & Recognitions: Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award; Sydney Taylor Honor Award; Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year;   NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Award

Publications: Penguin Random House; Holiday House; Cornell University PressSusan is a creative writing college professor who plans to complete her novel, Who By Fire while at Hedgebrook. Racial identity, racism, and social injustice are issues that Susan keeps returning to in her writing. 

Lisa Nikolidakis          

MemoirShort Story

Publications: Esquire; Cosmopolitan; Good Housekeeping; Woman’s Day; Redbook; Elle

While at Hedgebrook, she will be working on a memoir, We Run to Crush the Grass, exploring trauma, how we deal with it, and how we heal from it.

Ukamaka Olisakwe

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: named one of Africa’s most promising writers under the age of 40 in 2014; named in 2016 as one of the 100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40; Fellow at the University of Iowa. 

Publications: Eyes of A Goddess (Piraeus Books); The New York Times; and her novel, Eyes of a Goddess, was published by Piraeus Books.

Ukamaka is a novelist, short story author and screenplay writer currently working on a historical novel.  

Zhayra Palma                                                       

Creative Essay

Awards & Recognitions: Poets 11 Award from the San Francisco Public Library

Publications: Forum Magazine; LIES Vol IIZhayra is currently working on a collection of essays that challenges assumptions and blends memoir and poetry titled, A Disgraced Place of Eclipse. Written from the perspective of a Peruvian-Ecuadorian American woman reconciling her involvement in the sex trade, her spiritual childhood, and her past. 

Syeda Rad Rahman

Fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Winner of the 2006 Bard College Undergraduate Fiction Prize; Open Society Foundation Fellow; International Women’s Media Foundation Fellow; PEN America Fellow; Harvard Kennedy School Emerging Leader program

Publications: The New York Times; The Paris Review; The Guardian; Guernica Magazine

She’s working on the novel, Privilege, exploring justice, love, desire, regret, and extremism.

Andrea Ritchie                                                     

Non-fiction

Awards & Recognitions: Senior Soros Justice Fellow

Publications: New York Times Sunday Review; Beacon Press

Andrea is an attorney, researcher, writer, and advocate for women of color and their experiences of racial profiling, police violence, and criminalization. While at Hedgebrook, her project will examine the broader process of criminalization of women of color, and the ways it is being deployed in the current political climate.  

Yaccaira Salvatierra

Poetry

Awards & Recognitions: Puerto del Sol Poetry Prize; Dorrit Sibley Award for Poetry

Yaccaira is a poet and elementary school teacher. She will be working on A Home for the Dead, a manuscript in five sections, which are inspired by stories about her family and friends, mostly immigrants, all border-related. She grapples with the question of which country to bury the dead of immigrants. 

Natalie Serber                                                      

Short Story

Awards & Recognitions: John Steinbeck Award for Fiction; the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction; the James R. Carlson Fellowship; Walter E. Dakin Fellowship

Publications: Shout Her Lovely Name(2012); O, the Oprah Magazine; The Rumpus

Natalie’s current project explores socio-economic pressures in the lives of women who belong to a cooking group.

Anna Stull      

Memoir

A medically retired Captain in the Army Nurse Corps, Anna is writing a memoir of her experiences deployed to Abu Ghraib Prison in 2006 and as Saddam Hussein’s nurse while detailed to the Iraqi High Tribunal Court during the Al-Anfal Trial.

Jasmin Iolani Hakes

Creative non-fiction

Publications: The Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee

Jasmin ‘Iolani is a writer from the Big Island of Hawaii. Much of her work focuses on the connection between cultural inheritance and personal identity. At Hedgebrook she will be working on Hula, a book based on Hawaiian Homelands that provides a contemporary perspective on the complex social makeup of the islands and the repercussions of America’s occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

By Gabrielle James

Does your writing need a spring reboot? Here are three ways to create your own DIY writing retreat:

  • Take up space. At Hedgebrook, we have individual cottages, but you may want to rent an Airbnb for the weekend, pitch a tent in the woods, or go to a friend’s place.
  • Gather your community. Taking time to focus on your writing doesn’t have to be a completely solo endeavor. Inviting a few friends to come along can be helpful and motivating. Bounce ideas off each other, vent, nurture one another—but above all else, write!

  • Embrace the idea of “radical hospitality.” Whether you decide to retreat alone or with friends, treat yourself with care. Nourish your body with good food; make your space cozy and inviting with flowers, scented candles or music.

Need even more inspiration? Alumna Melanie Bishop speaks to the importance of writing retreats in this blog post. Your writing retreat really can be anything you want.

Don’t forget to share your DIY writing retreat with us! Many of Hedgebrook’s of over 2,000 alums love to stay in touch with us and regularly share their writing and lifestyle inspirations. Here’s a photo from Natalie Serber, one of our online class instructors:

Caption from Natalie Serber: Self-made writing retreat with my pal @jennieshortridge. We’re trying our best to capture the @hedgebrook zeitgeist of  #radicalhospitality by cooking great meals to nourish our writer minds!
 

By Diana Reynolds Roome

Ode to a Hedgebrook Woodstove

 

Dark sturdy cradle of spark and crackle

Embossed with fishers of words

We prod, fan, blow 

For that breath of warmth

Spark of idea

Flare-up of phrase

Sap bursting with flicker, crack, hiss

Till flames engulf

Surge into life

And words scorch page.

 

Discarded phrases fuel the fire

Neglected to a glimmer

Till wood and words discreetly placed

Kindle again, set sentences sizzling

Seeking oxygen, time, new fuel –

Plank with bark or burly chunk? –

To feed a glow that sears the mind

A conflagration roaring.

 

Tongues lick through wood

Tongues singe the page

Splendor flares, flames out, and dies –

Until ferocious, hurling

One wild hot spit out into air

To start the fire next time.

 

Diana Reynolds Roome

By Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

I was to begin my residency at Hedgebrook on Sept 26, 2017. I came here, fully laden with a year’s worth of my very active and stressful life in NYC. I flew into Seattle a week early. I came to recuperate and restore. On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, my homeland and the setting for much of my work.

On the Internet, I saw the pictures of flooded streets, shattered houses, and weeping people who looked just like me and mine. The president sneered at our plight and went golfing, obliviously unconcerned about the suffering of the American citizens who live on the island. In addition to exhaustion, I was now filled with anxiety, helplessness, despair, and unimaginable rage. I had never expected much from our ‘leader’ but abandoning citizens to thirst, starvation, illness, and homelessness seemed a little much, even for him.

My first few days were filled with alternating weeping and nightmare-filled sleep. My third novel, the reason I came here, was left untouched. Meditation, my conduit to my creative voice, was impossible. Every time I was served a great meal or even poured a glass of cold water, I wondered how many people needed it more than me. Days passed and I found out my family had survived the hurricane but had lost a home and everything in it. I thought about leaving my residency and going straight to a devastated island. But communication was almost impossible and transportation even more so.

My ancestors have always been my guides and the source of my stories. But my conduit to them, meditation, was out of the question. So I took them with me as I walked the paths at Hedgebrook Farm. I didn’t walk far but I walked slowly and listened to the breeze in the trees and noted the inclines in the terrain and the colors of the foliage. The birds in the birdbath rejoiced in the sun and the lone owl outside my cottage kept me company. I opened myself to the healing power of the woods. I embraced quiet and solitude and I knew that I didn’t walk alone.

Slowly, the nightmares went away and the anger reduced from a raging flame to a simmering flicker. The darkness began to lift and I could sit and write and write and write. Writing has always been my refuge and my best weapon against injustice. Once I could sit in my journal and on my computer and connect with the story, I knew the healing had begun.

After the first week of my residency, a tiny bud of a plan began to unfold. What could I give my people to help in their healing? As the grassroots aid began to trickle in and other nations took up the monumental job of clean up, I searched for my contribution. And a tiny bud of a plan began to blossom.

When I leave Whidbey I will go home to New York City and join the grassroots relief effort there. As soon as there are reliable communications, I will contact my Puerto Rican counterparts on the island with my idea. After the monumental job of clean up, healthcare and infrastructure repair has begun. After the hospital, schools, community centers, and libraries begin to reopen, after the basic necessities of life are somewhat in place, I’d like to go down and work with my fellow writers to conduct writing workshops in community spaces. People will need some place to put their fears, their anguish, their nightmares, and hopefully, their dreams for the future. It is too early now. The healing of the bodies must come before we can begin the healing of the soul. And I hope I can be just a little part of that.

I am so grateful for my time on Whidbey Island and to the loving people, I found there. I’m glad I didn’t leave ahead of time. I’m glad I found a way of healing myself so that then I can try to heal others who will need to do so for many years to come. Thank you to the people of Hedgebrook, both staff, and fellow writers, who gave me a place to heal and restore in more ways than they could have ever imagined.

 

By Kathleen Alcalá

Kathleen Alcalá

In 1989, I was asked to interview Nancy Skinner Nordhoff about her new endeavor, a writing retreat for women. We spent part of a day talking. I think we drove from Seattle to Whidbey together, so she could show me what form her ideas were beginning to take, how her dreams were turning into something real. I had a lot of dreams too, so I was anxious to see what this looked like, given the resources.

Nancy described how her marriage had fallen apart, leaving her to reinvent herself from the good wife and good mother, roles she had filled to the best of her ability to – whatever she wanted or needed to be. She took a good hard look at what she saw for the future, and how to turn her considerable skills and assets into something practical and useful to those without such resources.

Nancy described a cross-country car trip and how she was drawn to rural spaces, found herself wanting to press her nose to the windows of farmhouses, yearning to join the circle of family she imagined inside. Her friend, a midwife, helped Nancy focus her yearning into a specific goal, a creative space where women could feel safe, didn’t need to do domestic work, and could support and encourage each other. It was a space in which their creative work could take precedence, and be their major focus, if only for a few short weeks. I could not help but wonder what was in this for Nancy. I have worked for non-profits most of my life, but understanding the motivations of people who, to me, seem to have so much more agency than the rest of us remains mysterious.

I remember feeling intense waves coming off Nancy. How I suddenly became a sounding board, and felt the need to be very careful not to say anything that would limit her exploration. I am generally tone deaf when it comes to other’s emotions. In addition, I was a bit overwhelmed with my own emotions that day. I admitted my recent failure at retaining a leadership position at a difficult organization. It had happened so recently, that I was still in shock at how badly things had gone.

Nancy suggested that I spend some time myself at the residency, a chance at some stolen time in paradise.

So I had to share another secret with Nancy. There was a limited amount of time I could spend, even at a dream residency. What had started out as a general interview for publication was turning into a series of big reveals. Nancy offered me a residency at Hedgebrook for two weeks in the fall, when the first four cottages would be ready, and I agreed. This was probably late spring or early summer at the time.

In late September, my belly swelled out to there, I moved into one of the cottages. I know other Hedgebrook residents form deep attachments to their particular cottage. I have since stayed for short visits in two or three of them, and always loved all of them the way one loves her aunties. They have collectively nurtured me with their benign, nonjudgmental spaces. The murmuring trees, the talkative owls, the path through the cedar deep, all have combined to supply that “Yes, and…” that allows a writer to fill that blank space with her own words.

What I do remember are the other three women who stayed at the same time. Dana Stabenow, upon meeting me, promptly offered to deliver my baby if I went into labor early. She had EMT training! I demurred, politely I think, holding out for full term. Amy Pence was a poet, and the fourth, Susan Brown, was working on children’s books. All have produced several or many books since then, raised families of either books or children, and effected positive change in the world not only as writers, but as teachers, parents, philanthropists, and general wise women.

I had already written my first collection of stories by the time I got to Hedgebrook, but managed to produce the first forty pages of what would become Spirits of the Ordinary, my first novel, in the two weeks I spent on that magic isle. Oh yes: On October 19 of that year, my son Benjamin was born, the first “Hedgebrook baby,” and certainly the first male to spend the night in a Hedgebrook cottage. I had an easy pregnancy and birth, and I attribute much of it to the affirmation I received at Hedgebrook. Looking back, I see how much more of the world Nancy understood than I did at that time, that giving women time and creative space might be one of the greatest ways to heal the earth, and oneself. I have tried to give back in my own way, mostly through teaching, but also by trying to be present when someone needs an ear, and answer the inevitable questions about the writing and publishing process. I will never forget what Nancy taught me, and what she offered me during my time of greatest joy out of her great need to heal.

 

 

By Corinne Cavanaugh

Hedgebrook Authoring Change – Interview of Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

Sadly, yes. I’m a self-taught writer, so every time I write a book, I have to teach myself to write all over again, and it’s not a quick process. For my first novel, Why She Left Us, I read like crazy and mapped out the books I liked to figure out what a novel was. I dissected them, teaching myself everything from how to end a chapter to how to format dialogue.

  Read more

1 2 3 10
X
Fall into Writing With Women-Focused Writing Events
Back-to-school season self-care for your inner writer
Global Impact
Pollination
Introducing 2018 Hedgebrook Alumnae ​
Does your writing need a spring reboot? Here are three ways to create your own DIY writing retreat:
Ode to a Hedgebrook Woodstove
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
Kathleen Alcalá