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By Eve Ensler

Ambiguous UpSparkles From the Heart of the Park (Mic Check/Occupy Wall Street)

I have been watching and listening to all kinds of views and takes on Occupy Wall Street. Some say it’s backed by the Democratic Party. Some say it’s the emergence of a third party. Some say the protesters have no goals, no demands, no stated call. Some say it’s too broad, taking on too much. Some say it is the Left’s version of the Tea Party. Some say its Communist, some say it’s class warfare. Some say it will burn out and add up to nothing. Some say it’s just a bunch of crazy hippies who may get violent.

I have been spending time down at Zucotti Park and I am here to offer a much more terrifying view.   Read more

By Elizabeth Austen

Letter to a Young Writer

Dear Writer,

Years ago I heard Stanley Kunitz say, “The first job of the poet is to become the person who could write the poems.”

For a long time I thought this meant I had to become a better person than I am. I thought I had to become virtuous and perfect, so that the Muse would give me wise and beautiful poems.

But what I know now is that all (all!) I needed to do is to become myself, not someone else’s idea of me.   Read more

By Claudia Rowe

Add Kids and Stir

When I was last at Hedgebrook, two writers-in-residence were pregnant, and I – single, childless, about to turn 41 – could not hide my envy. It was not that I desperately loved children. I didn’t even know any children. But I wondered about missing out on the experience of family. I wondered if it would limit me, as a person and as a writer.

Years before, a friend had urged that I take full advantage of my solitary life: “It won’t be this way forever,” he said. “Do your work now.” Yet I was antsy, wandering around my tiny mountain home. Jumpy. The silence clogged my brain and I could not commit to the voice on the page.   Read more

By Monique Truong

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies.  On the pages of her Little House series of books, I learned that Ma could make pies out of almost anything: green pumpkins (The Long Winter), black birds (Little Town on the Prairie), dried apples (By the Shores of Silver Lake), and even vinegar (Little House in the Big Woods). In fact, the only time when Ma did not bake a pie was when their eponymous little house was on the prairie, where “stewed dried blackberries and little cakes” were the closest things that Pa and the girls got to a proper dessert and that was only at Christmas dinner.

When I was eight and speeding through every book by Wilder that I could find—eschewing Farmer Boy till the very end because it was, eww, about a Boy!—every sentence about pie making and eating was pure magic to me. They still are. While I have put away now, along with other childish things, my calico sunbonnet (I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide whether I mean this figuratively or literally), I have kept close to my heart and my open mouth Wilder’s vivid evocation of the Good American Pie.

Like many quintessentially American fare, pies were foods that I read about but that I rarely ate at home when I was growing up.   Read more

By Christine Johnson-Duell

Finding Pomegranates

I have always loved the Persephone/Demeter myth and as an MFA student, I discovered Eavan Boland’s poem, “The Pomegranate.” I loved its wistfulness, its wisdom, and its fierce ambivalence (simultaneous wanting: to protect a daughter from, and propel her into, life), especially because I’d always related to this myth as Persephone. The speaker says “…the best thing about the legend is/I can enter it anywhere.”

In the decade that followed grad school, I came across numerous Persephone/Demeter poems. In that decade, I had a daughter, but I never wanted to write a version of the myth. Other poets, better than I, had already done it; the world didn’t need another. And, unlike Boland’s speaker, I was uncertain where to enter it.

I did (and do) however, have a few opinions.   Read more

By Anne Liu Kellor

How to Write After Giving Birth

You fear that once you have your baby it will be hard to write. You have been spoiled for so long with so many uninterrupted hours. How will you adapt to working in snippets, a half hour here, hour there? You know that this is how other mothers do it, how they manage to hang on to their identities as writers, manage to get anything done. That said, you are prepared to give up writing altogether for a while. You are trying to lower your expectations so that you will not be disappointed. You are trying to be realistic.

Before giving birth, you are gifted with three blessed weeks at Hedgebrook. You know that this is your last chance to make great strides in your work before life with baby takes over. You know that life with baby will take over.   Read more

By Yvette Heyliger

An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Dear Farmhouse Table:  I am a Hedgebrook alumnae (Oak 2008) and member of the Dramatists Guild.  I attended a meeting earlier this year with the president, Stephen Schwartz, distinguished council members, and members of the Women’s Initiative to discuss parity issues.  In that meeting I shared that there was a letter that I have been writing for some time now to Michelle Obama about the plight of women playwrights in America.  I decided to make it an “open letter” and share it with “all who have ears to hear.”  Many have found it inspiring, and so I thought I would share it with the Hedgebrook community here at the Farmhouse Table.  Enjoy!

– Yvette Heyliger (yvetteheyliger@aol.com)

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama discusses a precedent set by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, one that paved the way for women journalists, ensuring and protecting their jobs as members of the White House Press Corps.  I thought her methods might inspire the same action by First Lady Michelle Obama as a way to achieve parity for women artists in the American Theatre.   Read more

By Ann Hedreen

Time and Katy

 

This one’s about Time. And Katy.

Katy: you wrote so eloquently about your cancer I thought your words would banish those cells from your body forever. But no. A few cells lurked.  Multiplied. Finally, they left your words and took your body. And I am grieving. Me and a whole lot of other people.

I knew you first as a writer, a fiftyish mom like me who left the teenagers at home while we honed our craft in an MFA program.  Then when I read what you wrote, I knew you as a writer who had faced down death at an age when most of us are debating whether to stop coloring our hair.

A few nights ago I went to a phenomenal reading sponsored by Hedgebrook.      Read more

By Christine O'Connor

Watching Gloria Steinem: A small and powerful gathering

On the evening of August 15, two women who had served on the board of Hedgebrook some years ago joined me to watch the HBO documentary “Gloria: In Her Own Words.” Amy’s wife Kate Buzard had invented a cocktail for the occasion, the “Bra Burner.” As I prepared some appetizers for the cocktail party, I told my teen daughters about Gloria and the cocktail, getting blank looks both times.

The two women who joined me were professional women in the workforce during the height of Gloria’s career, while I was still in college; they whooped in recognition of the news footage in the documentary and recounted their own stories of unequal pay, exclusion and other encounters with ‘60’s-era misogyny.   Read more

By Elizabeth Austen

On the Air: Preparing for a Radio Interview

You summoned the courage, devoted the time, wrote the book. You found a publisher. Now it’s time to get the book into the world.

For the past decade or so, I’ve worked part-time at KUOW, one of Seattle’s NPR affiliates. I interview poets and curate a regular poetry feature. I’ve been on the other side of the microphone, too, talking about my own work, and have been grateful I knew what to expect and how to prepare. Even so, being interviewed is a funny balancing act—ideally, it comes across as a relaxed, engaging conversation, but unlike a regular social situation, the interview requires preparation.   Read more

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