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By Elise Miller

A Message From Elise Miller

All of us have been impacted by COVID-19 more than we could have ever imagined just three months ago. Lives and livelihoods have been disrupted or lost. Families have been separated from loved ones. Like being in a sinking boat, springing one leak after another: At first it doesn’t seem so bad, but soon we’re all bailing water and jettisoning more and more cargo, anxious about what the future might hold.

Here at Hedgebrook, like every other organization, we’ve been trying to figure out how best to plug the holes and keep afloat while connecting with those in our community who need a lifeline at this time. Part of this has been reimagining our programs, applying for government loans and developing precautionary health protocols to prepare for opening up our residencies just as soon as we safely can.

With plummeting revenue and canceled programs, however, the Board of Directors has had to make some extremely difficult decisions in order to ensure the organization itself will have the capacity to rebuild as we collectively emerge from this pandemic. These directives entail consolidating all operations on Whidbey, closing our Seattle office and postponing all residential programs until 2021.

This radical restructuring also includes the painful decision to let go of some of our dedicated and industrious staff in order to stay within what we can afford at this time. We’re doing everything in our capacity to take these steps as thoughtfully and as humanely as possible, but this is undeniably distressing for everyone directly and indirectly impacted. We certainly extend our heartfelt appreciation to all those who will be moving on, and we will never forget their invaluable service to Hedgebrook.

What does all of this mean for our future? First, Hedgebrook isn’t going anywhere. Women, particularly women of color, are being disproportionately impacted in this pandemic. The higher burden of caretaking, domestic violence and other concerns primarily falls on women’s shoulders. This means our mission to give visionary women writers the time and space to record their experiences and share their stories broadly is as critical as ever. Their challenges and insights need to be an integral part of shaping whatever the “new normal” will look like in our society and across the globe. 

In order to keep engaging our creative community as we shelter in place, we’ve taken a deep dive into developing innovative virtual programming. Due largely to the exceptional talent, creativity and largess of our Hedgebrook alumnae community who have led these workshops, we’ve ramped up our online classes and recently launched a new webinar series. These have already been met with an outpouring of enthusiasm, classes filling up often within days after an announcement has gone out. In response to our “pay-what-you-can” fee structure, we’ve also been gratified by the beneficence of those who have registered at the highest levels so that others can participate for free as well as those who have been able to donate on top of their registration fee.

Mentors, teachers, and dramaturgs of other events and workshops we’ve had to cancel, such as the Women Playwrights Festival and Documentary Film Lab, are also generously offering their time online to engage and support those who were to participate in their respective programs at the Hedgebrook retreat.

Another change that bodes well for our future is having our new Program Director, Amber Flame, come on staff this month. Though we will sorely miss the expertise and wholeheartedness that Vito Zingarelli offered Hedgebrook over the last 13 years, Flame is already infusing our strategic planning with a wealth of fresh ideas for online opportunities and a bolder social media presence. Plus, she’s focused on updating systems that that will better serve us in the future by enhancing our efficiency and capacity.

Another major priority is reconceptualizing a strategy for program-driven development and outreach that functions out of the Whidbey office – one that builds on the strengths and abilities of the limited number of staff we currently have. The Board is an integral part of that process.

We of course never would have chosen to do this kind of drastic “reset.” Not only is consolidating offices and cutting staff a heart-wrenching process, but having to reschedule our 2020 Writers in Residence (WIR) to 2021 is disruptive and dismaying for all those involved, including the writers who were planning to apply for next year’s WIR as we’ve made the hard decision to postpone taking any new applications until next year for 2022.

That said, we are absolutely committed to using this situation as a springboard for innovation, while retaining what makes Hedgebrook so special to thousands around the world. We are already rethinking and redesigning ways to host our beloved writers in the future – keeping health and safety, as well as our special brand of radical hospitality, at the center of all our decision-making. Meanwhile, please know that Hedgebrook’s heartbeat on the land – and through the internet – is as strong and resolute as ever.

In closing, I want to express our abiding gratitude to all those who have reached out to us during this time with words of support as well as donations. Your encouragement buoys our spirits and gives us a sense of hope and possibility for what Hedgebrook can become in this new global landscape. Please continue to stay in touch, participate in our new virtual programming, engage in our social media outreach and give what you can to ensure visionary women’s voices are not only heard, but heeded. Our future depends on it.

By Hedgebrook Staff

Hedgebrook Welcomes New Program Director, Amber Flame

April 2020—Langley, Washington

It is with joy that Hedgebrook announces Amber Flame will be joining our team as Program Director.  As an alum of Hedgebrook’s renowned Writers in Residence Program, published author, multi-discipline artist, youth development practitioner, and experienced nonprofit administrator, she brings with her a wealth of experience and understanding that will serve Hedgebrook’s community during this unprecedented time, and for years to come.

Reflecting on this moment of transition, Amber writes, “a crucial word keeps coming up in this historical time: pivot. The need for us all to pivot toward what is sustainable, what is inclusive, and more importantly, what is meaningful, both personally and professionally. It’s a thrilling moment to join the Hedgebrook team; fully in motion, reflective, and ready to cultivate what shines brightest with hope.”

Evidenced by her work as Director of The IF Project, a nonprofit that provides services to women and youth impacted by incarceration, Amber has a rich and varied experience as a program, curriculum, and training architect. She is also a skilled team leader and programmatic strategic planner, with a background in finance.

Amber has been closely tied to Hedgebrook since her residency in 2017. As a teaching artist for Y-We Write (a programmatic collaboration between Hedgebrook and youth empowerment organization Y-We), active alumna, and event speaker. She has a deep knowledge of this community, its assets, values, and opportunities. We are thrilled to welcome Amber as a member of our leadership team!

Post a comment below to welcome Amber.

By Elise Miller

A Message About Coronavirus

4.27.2020 UPDATE

Though most of us share a sense of anxiety, fear, and overwhelm while we shelter in place, it’s important to remember that some of us are significantly more impacted than others. As Judy Belk, a Hedgebrook Board member and alum and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, underscored in her op-ed in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, race and socioeconomic status are key factors as to whether you’re going to get the coronavirus and whether you’ll survive it.

On average 75% of the Writers in Residence at Hedgebrook are women of color. This means that many in our extended community are likely experiencing more economic worries, sickness and fatalities during this pandemic than their white counterparts. Postponing residencies and cancelling programs can also have disproportionate impacts on these women since carving out time to write is such a rare opportunity in the best of times, made even more so by lay-offs and the increased need to care for family members now.

As we consider how to support all the visionary women writers who have been planning to come to Hedgebrook this year, these issues are at the top of our minds. Our program team is in touch with each writer while we think through when can we safely open our doors again and whether or not future dates might work. We are offering new ‘pay as you will’ options on line to nourish connections and reach those who wouldn’t be able to afford a course otherwise.  

As part of our online series classes, for example, Theo Nestor and Natalie Serber hosted lively and highly interactive chat sessions for students this past Saturday. This upcoming weekend, on May 5 from 11:00AM -12PM PDT, Claire Dederer will join the chat room with students, answering questions, sharing resources, and helping to solidify this online class community.  Please join us!

More than ever we need to lift women’s voices up, particularly those who have been marginalized for far too long – particularly those who are most at risk during this highly disturbing and disorienting time. Please help us continue to support women authoring change for the future we not only want, but we very much need.

Here are our latest program updates due to COVID-19:

  1. Four online series classes relaunched: Available now thru June 15, 2020 at multiple price points open to anyone. Teachers include: Jourdan Keith, Claire Dederer, Theo Nestor, and Natalie Serber.
  2. Master Classes:
  3. Carolina DeRobertis at Hedgebrook (April 21-28, 2020) is canceled for this year with the plan to hold it early next year in person.
  4. Hope Edelman in Tuscany (April 29 – May 9, 2020) is now rescheduled for November 14-23, 2020.
  5. Vortext (May 1–3, 2020) on Whidbey Island is canceled, though a series of live webinars with Vortext teachers will launch in May.
  6. Women’s Playwrights Festival (May 13 – June 2, 2020) is canceled, though our Dramaturgs have offered to host intimate Zoom calls to check-in with and support this year’s playwrights. Thought is being given to possibly offering live webinars with dramaturgs, theater partners, and playwrights.
  7. Documentary Film Lab (June 2-11, 2020) is canceled, though all three Lab leaders are offering each finalist pro bono, one-on-one consulting sessions.  The program team is supporting two Doc Lab fellows to develop a virtual space for filmmakers to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting their craft, to support each other and to share resources. Stay tuned.

We will be deciding soon whether to cancel our programs for the rest of June. If so, our hope would be to reopen in early July for our next group of Writers in Residence. Of course, that too remains uncertain as we continue to monitor health and safety concerns.

In the meanwhile, please take good care, and even in the midst of so much chaos, try to savor the small beauties and wonders in everyday life – maybe a spark of an idea for your next piece of writing or simply a clean load of laundry.

Update: 3/31/20

As you are no doubt aware, circumstances regarding COVID-19 continue to change dramatically by the day, reshaping our lives and restricting our choices in an effort to slow the contagion and protect individual and public health.

Given the current state of affairs, the elderly, caregivers, and those most economically vulnerable will be hardest hit which means that women will be disproportionately affected. How do we empower women to document these stories, and how do we continue to capture these narratives after the immediate crisis has subsided? Women authoring change globally is what we do and have always done at Hedgebrook and as such we have a vital role to play. Over the coming months Hedgebrook will be focusing on ways in which we can best foster, capture, and document these stories. We look forward to sharing our plans with you.

In the meanwhile, we want you to know about some additional changes to our program schedule:

  • We are currently working with our Vortext teachers to bring their classes to the wider Hedgebrook community online. 
  • Our upcoming Spring Master Class at Hedgebrook with Carolina de Robertis will likely be postponed until 2021, but we are still moving forward with Mira Jacob’s Master Class in June at this time.
  • We are in conversation with those involved in our Women Playwrights’ Festival the second half of May as to whether we need to postpone this or create some kind of alternative.
  • We are rescheduling our Tuscany Master Class with Hope Edelman, originally planned for April/May, to November 14-23, 2020.
  • We are ramping up our Online Writing Series, taught by Hedgebrook alumnae.  Look for some of your favorite online classes to re-launch in early April.
  • Our Fall Master Classes at Hedgebrook with Molly Wizenberg and Vanessa Hua are still open and accepting applications.

As disheartening as it is to not have writers at the retreat right now, we have decided to plant our full Hedgebrook garden this Spring. We want to be prepared to feed and host writers whenever restrictions are lifted, and whatever we harvest prior to that time will go to HB staff who are in need and our local Food Bank.

We continue to send our heartfelt wishes to you and yours. Please stay healthy and strong — and please keep writing!

Update: 3/17/20

Hedgebrook has made the difficult decision to pause all in-person programming until April 20 in light of rapidly evolving news about the spread of novel coronavirus. As we learn more about projected course of this virus, it’s clear that our highest priority has to be to the health and wellbeing of our program participants, staff, and community as well as the health of those who live far beyond the borders of Whidbey Island. The data shows that a bold approach to social distancing (what we prefer to call “social spacing”) is the most effective way to flatten the curve and keep COVID-19 from overwhelming our healthcare system and taking more lives.

We will of course continue to monitor the situation and see if we will have to extend our “pause” beyond April 20. For those of you who are signed up for programs, please know you will be contacted directly about any changes. Also know we are working with our teachers to creatively develop alternative ways of gathering virtually, including offering more online programs.

This moment in history invites each of us to become adaptive leaders and take compassionate, wise action. We are grateful to all of you for your support of Hedgebrook’s mission. Please take good care of yourselves, your loved ones, and your communities as we walk together through these unchartered times. 

Update: 3/11/20

As of today, we have not canceled any Whidbey based programs but are keeping a vigilant eye on the emerging information and will alert people who are planning to come to programs individually as soon as anything changes. Everyone will need to make their own decision in terms of their level of comfort with any potential risks traveling here.  Please contact us at programs@hedgebrook.org with questions.  

We are reimagining Equivox, our annual fundraising brunch, as a virtual event this year. Please click here to learn how you can support Hedgebrook.

3/4/2020

Dear Hedgebrook Friends,  

With news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak changing by the hour, we want you to know how Hedgebrook is responding.   

1. As of today, we have not canceled any programs but are keeping a vigilant eye on the emerging information and will alert people who are planning to come to programs individually as soon as anything changes. There have been no confirmed cases on Whidbey Island, but everyone will need to make their own decision in terms of their level of comfort with any potential risks traveling here.   

2. We have put in place practices at our retreat to reduce risks such as using only paper towels rather than cloth towels in bathrooms and doing vigilant sanitizing. As always, we ask staff who feel sick to stay home.   

3. Our colleagues at the Alliance for Artists Communities have gathered some excellent resources about protecting yourself and others, so instead of reinventing the wheel, we are forwarding their suggestions (thank you, ACC!).

  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted an overview of the current situation as well as basic steps to reduce risk
  • CDC is urging businesses to prepare an Infectious Disease Outbreak Response plan (and will soon post guides for community organizations)
  • CDC recommends staying in contact with state and local health agencies for location-specific guidance
  • ArtsReady has also shared a post on how to prepare your facility and to communicate with program participants and your broader community 
  • In the event of a site-wide evacuation, this checklist guides you on what to bring
  • While putting safety measures into place, we encourage thoughtful consideration of the stigma associated with COVID-19. As advocates for all artists, we must also take care that the steps we take are equitable in their treatment of Asian and Asian-American constituents.
  • While the number of US cases remains small, we are an international service organization, and the World Health Organization has posted advice for the public on basic protective measures against the new coronavirus

4. We will be updating the post if/as our situation changes. Please send an email to programs@hedgebrook.org if you have any questions and stay healthy!

By Sharon Magliano

Morning Rituals for Writers

In this time of quarantine, it may already be hard to remember when you had a normal rhythm to your day. While we can’t control what’s going on in the world, we can add some routine to our lives in the form of a simple morning ritual. Everyone’s ritual looks different. Toni Morrison gave this advice to her students: “I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are their best, creatively. They need to ask themselves, what does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence? Is there chaos outside, or is there serenity outside? What do I need in order to release my imagination?”

Here are some suggestions that you could use as jumping-off points for creating your own morning writing ritual.

Rise a Little Earlier – If you are now tasked with not only trying to mind your writing practice, but also being a schoolteacher to your kids, or a caregiver to others, wake up a little before they do. Having even 15 minutes to yourself will help you get your day off on the right foot.

Define Your Space – Because of stay-at-home orders, your workspace has likely changed. Even if you have always written at home, that space may now be shared with children, roommates, and partners in new ways. Having a physical symbol to indicate that it’s time to write can help ground you in your writing practice and be a useful reminder to keep going. You could light a candle, burn some incense, or set a special memento near your workspace. After you are done for the day, extinguish the flame or put your special object away. These small rituals can help differentiate between the different phases in the day and help with work/life balance.

Write Before You Do Anything Else – Before you tackle that load of laundry, return phone calls, start homeschooling your children, or tend to any of the other things that take up time in your day, write. After you have worked for a set amount of time, go ahead and take care of the other essential tasks. Maybe you will have some time and energy to come back to your writing, but even if you don’t, you can take comfort in the fact that you wrote today.

Keep a Journal – There’s evidence that journaling, especially when you first awaken, can ease anxiety and may even strengthen immune cells! Not sure where to start? Try these journaling prompts from The Writers CooperativePsychCentral, and Thought Catalog. It is also a great time to start a gratitude journal by writing down three things you are thankful for each day. Gratitude is proven to increase happiness and improve moods!

Find Structure – An online writing class can add the consistency you need to keep you going, especially when the days can seem to blend together. Having a formal structure, writing prompts, and interaction with an instructor can offer accountability. During this unprecedented time, Hedgebrook wants to make this valuable tool available to anyone who needs it and is offering our four online classes on a pay-what-you-can fee schedule.

By Hedgebrook Staff

Denise Barr, Hedgebrook’s beloved House Chef, is leaving the retreat.

For more than twelve years Denise brought her amazing blend of creative talents: culinary, artistic and strategic to bear in the kitchen and in the creation of memorable Hedgebrook events, raising the bar on Radical Hospitality.

She faithfully led the myriad of chefs employed at Hedgebrook in nurturing writers with lovingly prepared meals. She also shared her gifts freely to support not only the writers in their process but also celebrate their achievements within and beyond our community.

Her generosity, passion for food from many cultures and eye for beautiful presentation cultivated a welcoming table. The gorgeous Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality, created with fellow chef Julie Rosten, is the finest example, short of a seat at the table, of the spirit of Hedgebrook.  

Denise is using her studio time to expand her established jewelry business.  She is currently collaborating with famed local glass artist Dick Marquis, featuring his murine glass in her original pieces.  Undoubtedly she will also be knitting, weaving, gardening and cooking up a storm.

We will miss her and wish to extend our deepest gratitude for Denise’s many years of outstanding service to Hedgebrook’s mission.  We vow to carry forward her legacy.

By Gabrielle James

Introducing 2019 Hedgebrook Alumnae

For more than 30 years, Hedgebrook has served the mission to nurture women writers, building an alumnae community that has grown to more than 2,600 people. Each year it is still a wonderfully exciting thing for us to launch another cohort of women into our core Writers in Residence program, giving them a chance to enjoy the Hedgebrook retreat experience in depth. The women who are joining us on for fully-funded residencies this year have proven themselves in so many ways – with dedication to their craft, confidence in their unique stories, and the personal courage to put themselves on the line. 

All of these women have demonstrated a commitment to truth in their writing, and a compassionate awareness of our connected world – a world in which each woman’s story reflects and contributes to all the others. We’re so excited to have shared the Hedgebrook ethos with them in person, and to boost them on their way to meeting you through their published works. As one of our funders said recently, “You may not have heard of these writers when they first come to Hedgebrook – just wait a couple of years.”

Rebecca Foust – Poetry

Overview: Foust writes experimental and politically-focused poetry based on issues related to immigration, gender, disability, race, social justice, and feminism.   While at Hedgebrook, Foust began the work of selecting poems for two forthcoming books: one of sonnets and one in free verse and more open forms. The Poet Laureate of Marin County 2017-19; Foust won the 2017 Cavafy Poetry prize; the 2015 James Hearst Poetry prize; and the 2015 American Literary Review Fiction prize. Publications/Productions: Books: Paradise Drive; All That Gorgeous; God, Seed: Poetry and Art; About the Natural World. Chapbooks: Dark Card and Mom’s Canoe. 600+ poems and prose pieces in 250+ journals including the Hudson Review, Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, Sewanee Review, & Southern Review.

Laurie Kahn – Screenwriting

Overview: Kahn is a documentary filmmaker who is currently working on a feature-length screenplay about female pilot, Jerrie Cobb.  At the dawn of space age, Cobb passed the grueling astronaut tests with flying colors, and after recruiting other women to take the tests (12 of whom passed them), she sparked a dramatic public battle on the role of women in society.  While at Hedgebrook, Kahn worked on re-writing dialogue, shortening and sharpening the screenplay. Kahn has received numerous awards, including a primetime national EMMY for Outstanding Non-Fiction, and the George Foster Peabody Award. Publications/Productions: TV Documentary Episodes: A Midwife’s Tale (PBS) Producer/Writer; Tupperware! (PBS) Director/Producer/Writer; Several other American Series Episodes (PBS) Producer

Christine Kandic Torres – Fiction

Overview: At Hedgebrook, Kandic Torres worked on finalizing revisions for her literary fiction novel, called Strike Three.  Set during the 2006 Mets playoff run, the novel explores the competition and codependency so often inherent in female friendship “in the hood” within the context of rape culture and toxic masculinity.  Kandic Torres received a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship in August 2017. Publications/Productions: Junction Boulevard, Cosmonauts Avenue; Carajola, Kweli Journal; Repeat as Necessary (or How to Blow Up Your Life), The Sonder Review; Circulatory, Newtown Literary Journal

Roseanne Pereira – Short story

Overview: Pereria is interested in what group narratives illuminate and what happens when cultural norms serve as obstacles to an individual’s ability to face a difficult truth.  Pereria’s current project When Did We Start Talking Like Ghosts is a collection of stories related to the Goan diaspora.  She is a Kroc Fellow for National Public Radio. Publications/Productions: Several stories published or produced by National Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Sierra, CityPages.

Dena  Simmons – Non-fiction

Overview: Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is the assistant director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Dena brings with her a wealth of knowledge on teacher education and pedagogy and has published several popular articles on teacher education, social justice pedagogy, education reform, and bullying.  She has been invited to speak nationally, including a talk at the United Nations and TED talks. Publications/Productions: The Guava Tree Middlebury; We Cannot Afford to Walk Away Middlebury; Subway Prayer; On Being; and others.

Mary Williams – Memoir

Overview: Inspired by subcultures made up of individuals who find community in places and endeavors that the majority eschews or envies, Williams is currently working on a memoir written from a black Peace Corps perspective from her two years as a volunteer in Uganda.  The book will present stories of Ugandans and volunteers living together and how these contacts can enlighten and uplift rather than perpetuate ignorance and division.

Publications/Productions: Books: The Lost Daughter; Brothers in Hope; Stories published in: The Believer, McSweeney’s, and O: The Oprah Magazine

Sahar Delijani – Fiction

Overview: Her writing focuses on themes of persecution and resistance inspired both by personal stories and historical facts. Delijani’s current novel, Land of the Free, is about the fear, insecurity, and sense of loss and confusion that immigrants feel as they face increasing hostilities and their determination to resist and fight against it. Publications/Productions: Book: Children of the Jacaranda Tree, (Simon & Shuster). Articles/essays/short-stories: “Memories of Prison” (BBC); “My Promised Land” The Bellevue Review; “Southern Lights” Tryst; “The Bracelet of Date Stones” Phati’tude Literary Magazine; “Children of the Jacaranda Tree” Slice Magazine

MK Chavez – Hybrid

Overview: Chavez writes about the experiences of women-identified peoples and how the aftermath of explosive oppression manifests in our minds, bodies, relationships and roles in the world.  Currently, Chavez is writing about a Salvadorean diaspora, specifically centering on the experiences of women in her lineage.  Chavez recevied the Cosmonauts Poetry Award.

Publications/Productions: “Mothermorphosis” Nomadic Press; “Dear Animal” Nomadic Press; Also published in Squaw Valley Review, Rivet; Literary Journal; 580 Split, Eleven Eleven

Mira Rosenthal – Poetry|Translation

Overview: Rosenthal is an Assistant Professor, poet and translator.  She currently translating, from Polish to English, a book of Krystyna Dabrowska’s poetry. With a selection of 64 poems from across three volumes, this translation introduces Anglophone readers to a politically charged, contemporary Polish voice. The project also helps remedy the lack of Polish poetry by women in English translation.  Rosenthal has received two Fulbright Fellowships, as well as a Stegner and NEA Fellowship, respectively.

Publications/Productions: Book/Poetry Collection: The Local World

Jill McCabe Johnson – Poetry

Overview: McCabe Johnson’s current work is a poetry collection entitled The Disruption Regime. The collection considers potentially catastrophic events in nature, politics, and history that have served as stimulus for new growth, while simultaneously calling out injustice. Whileat Hedgebrook she explored new ways to push form to reflect shifts from territorially and culturally insular thinking to more open, inclusive perspectives.  McCabe Johnson is the winner of the Nautilus Silver Award in Poetry, among other awards.

Publications/Productions: Chapbook: Pendulum

JoAnn Balingit – Memoir

Overview: At Hedgebrook, Balingit worked on a memoir, sharing stories of her eleven (now ten) siblings who were fostered, or adopted after her parents died. Her memoir shares versions of the siblings’ collective story & her’s.  Her memoir explores domestic violence, racism, love, and growing up White/Filipino in a big family in a small town.  Balingit was the Delware Poet Laureate 2008 -2015, and she has won numerous awards and fellowships for her work.

Publications/Productions: Words For House Story (WordTech Editions, 2013); published in several anthologies including More Challenges for the Delusional (Diode Editions, 2018), Book of Curses (Asian American Literary Review, 2018). Poems featured in many publications including “Lies and Duplicity” (Vallum Contemporary Poetry, 2017); “Sanctuary” (The Rumpus Inaugural Poems, 2017)

Anni Domingo – Fiction

Overview: While in residence, Domingo worked on a historical novel set in the mid-nineteenth century, at a time when slave trade was illegal but very lucrative.  Breaking the Maafa Chainis about individuals, black and white, caught in the moral dilemma of slavery and the slave trade.  Domingo’s work has been shortlisted numerous times.

Publications/Productions: Tales Out of School (WriteOn Company, 2014); BREAKING the MAAFA CHAIN (2014); “Empty Cradle”, included in the anthology SECRET and SILENT TIMES (2010)

Bettina Judd – Academic/critical writing

Overview: Judd’s current project closely examines aspects of pleasure in Black women’s creative production. Her book, Feelin, argues that Black women artists approach and produce knowledge as internal and complex sensation entangled with pleasure, pain, anger, and joy, making artistic production itself the meaning of the work. Feelin intervenes in discourses in critical theory that would disembody feeling as knowledge, and expands notions of Black women’s pleasure politics in Black feminist studies.  Judd has received The Hudson Prize and the Pavlis Award for Visual Artists.

Publications/Productions: PATIENT (Black Lawrence Press, 2014); Art Media Publications: “Binding,” “See Him”, “Run On Sentence”, and “The Speaking in Tongues Experiment” (Obsidian); Book Chapters include “Walking in a Tile Garden Searching for Our Mothers: A Womanist Response to El Anatsui,” EL ANATSUI: NEW WORLDS (Mount Holyoke College, 2015); “Writing About Race” The RACIAL IMAGINARY: WRITERS ON RACE in the LIFE of the MIND (Fence Books, 2015)

Serena Lin – Fiction

Overview: While in residence, Lin plans to revise and assemble nearly five years worth of Ramadan journals into one manuscript.  Since 2013, via online Ramadan journals, Lin has documented personal struggles as a single, queer, genderqueer child of Taiwanese immigrants, trying to get pregnant.  Through the lens of a mind bent to the whims of low calories, Lin explores the writing process while starving/fasting. From 2012-14, Lin was a Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Publications/Productions: “A Part of Me,” The Rumpus (2018); “A Conversation and Constellation for Sandra Bland,” Bitch Media (2017); “The Speed of Love,” Drunken Boat (2016); “East Pine, ME,” Northern New England Review (2015/16); “This Girl,” cream city review (2013/2014)

Christola Phoenix – Memoir

Overview: Phoenix’s memoir, Paper Curls and Peanut Earring, is a coming of age memoir set against the backdrop of Harlem, New York in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The memoir centers on the beginning of the end of the happy period of her childhood, which is scarred by violence, and sexual and physical abuse. Her mother died at the age of 38, the same year she become pregnant at fifteen years old. Determined to finish high school and go to college, Phoenix’s life journey takes her and her daughter from the 70s to the present day. Publications/Productions: “William” and “The Emergency Room”, Alternating Currents-The Coil

Stefani Cox – Fiction

Overview: Cox is drawn to explore human-environment interaction, as well as personal and collective healing among communities of color. Cox’s current novel takes place in a futuristic California of extreme water scarcity, tackling questions of who is included and left out in environments of resource competition, and how communities of color, low-income individuals, and other marginalized people will respond to potentially being cut out of formal systems for this precious resource. Publications/Productions: “Valley Fieldwork” FIYAH magazine (2018); “Fyrewall” Glass and Gardens (2018)

Jessica Dickey – Playwriting

Overview: Dickey is taking a tender look at the sex lives of a group of older people, exploring the relationship of the body and the spirit, and examine how our libido, our orientation, our sexual personality alter as we enter the final chapter of our lives. Dickey is a resident playwright of New Dramatists in NYC; she won the National Theater Conference Stavis Award; and has received recognition for many other works. Publications/Productions: THE AMISH PROJECT (Samuel French); CHARLES IVES TAKE ME HOME (Samuel French); ROW AFTER ROW; (Dramatists Play Services); THE REMBRANDT (upcoming with Samuel French)

Leslie Blanco – Fiction

Overview: Blanco will be working on her novel, The Year of Education. The novel is set in Cuba in 1961, the year Fidel Castro dubbed “The Year of Education,” during which more than 100,000 children were sent to remote, rural regions to teach illiterates to read.  At the beginning of 1961, Cuba was not a Communist country, at the end of 1961, it had been transformed at every level and had declared itself Communist while the fully repressive mechanisms of a totalitarian government were also in place. Publications/Productions: Short stories have recently appeared in TransAtlantic Panorama, The Kenyon Review, PANK, Confrontation Magazine and The Coachella Review.

Drea Brown – Poetry

Overview: Brown will be working on a manuscript that deepens her inquiry into the ghostliness of the poet Phillis Wheatley that she began in her chapbook, dear girl: a reckoning. It is set in 1761 Boston: the process of naming, the intimacy of “family slavery,” and Phillis’s relationships with her owners, with their other enslaved servants, and with a nearly life-long friend.  Brown has been awarded a Naropa Zora Neale Hurston Fellowship, as well as other recognition.  Publications/Productions: dear girl: a reckoning chapbook (Gold Line Press, 2015); bop: deviled (Southern Indiana Review (2014); Poems: “what we been knowing” STAND OUR GROUND: ANTHOLOGY for TRAYVON MARTIN and MARISSA ALEXANDER (2013); “dear c.” Tuesday: An Art Project (2012); “adam after lilith, after eve” and “lilith after eden” FLICK of MY TONGUE ANTHOLOGY (2009)

Carla Du Pree – Fiction

Overview: Two hundred pages in, Du Pree will be working on finishing her novel, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, a story spun from loss, regret, and blessings. The tale of a young, African-American military family traveling by car through an uncivil south during the 60’s/early 70’s. Told through the eyes of Eudora, precocious and rattled with her misconception of what married life looks like.  Du Pree has won awards and grants for her work. Publications/Productions: “Childhood in the South” Baltimore City Paper (2016); “journey” the Potomac Review (1996)

Ashley Lucas – Academic/critical writing

Overview: When she was fifteen, Lucas’s father went to prison, and stayed there for twenty years. Her work focuses on theatre in and about prisons around the world. Lucas will be  working on WE ALL LOOKING at WALLS: Ethnographic Theatre and Prisons. The book examines three plays focused on living communities connected to prison, and analyzes these plays as disrupting popular narratives about prisons and their inhabitants in the U.S.  Lucas is a Ford Foundation Fellow. Publications/Productions: RAZOR WIRE WOMEN: PRISONERS, SCHOLARS, ACTIVISTS & ARTISTS (co-edited, SUNY Press, 2011); Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass (one-woman play).

Margarita Ramirez Loya – Young adult

Overview: Ramirez Loya will be working on a realistic fiction piece for young adults. Using the backdrop of the US-Mexico border during the Trump administration, I Only Know That Her Name is Mami, will be a bold testimony of the many young voices that are currently being silenced and locked in cages for no other reason than cruelty towards immigrants and the unwillingness to listen to the other side of the story. Publications/Productions: Beyond the ESL Classroom with Digital Storytelling in APPRAISING DIGITAL STORYTELLING ACROSS EDUCATIONAL CONTEXTS (Universidad de Valencia Press, 2014); We Are Stories, capturing and preserving the oral history of the Arizona- Sonora borderlands community (Digital, Lulu, 2012); Experiencing Digital Storytelling in the ESL Classroom in EXPERIENCINT DIGITAL STORYTELLING ,(Kindle Edition, 2013)

Jaclyn Chan – Screenwriting

Overview: MUFFIN BOX, a half-hour episodic dramedy, is an amalgamation of Chan’s experiences in the open mic scene in Singapore, which is political, as well as LGBTQ+ and female-centric. Chan has been nominated and has won numerous awards for screenwriting. Publications/Productions: Web series: LIFE SPAM (Maker Studios, 2017) INTERNS: SEASON 2 (Adara Pictures, 2016); SECOND CHANCES (Ananya Pictures, 2014); ZOOM ZIM ZAM: Season 2 (Ananya Pictures, 2013)

Zeeva Bukai – Fiction

Overview: Bukai is working on THE ANATOMY of EXILE, about an Israeli immigrant family that leaves Israel after a beloved sister is killed in what appears to be a terror attack. The chapters deal with the mother’s struggles to assimilate and keep the integrity of her family intact, while she clings to old hatreds as a way to hold on to her identity.  Bukai has won the 2017 Curt Johnson Award for Prose, and the Short Story Prize from Lilith Magazine. Publications/Productions: Published in Mcsweeny’s, Image Journal, December magazine, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, and Lilith.

Dana Fitz Gale – Fiction

Overview: Fitz Gale plans to finish the revisions of her manuscript, ABLE, a novel about the intersecting lives of a small-town librarian, a retired NASA engineer, and a young woman with a strange, nomadic past. Fitz Gale is interested in misfits, non-conformists, and those who live on the fringes of society.  Also of interest are landscapes and the decline of wilderness, public lands, agricultural communities, and small towns.  Fitz Gale is the recipient of the 2017 Ellen Levine Funds For Writers Award; 2015 Brighthorse Prize in Short Fiction; among others. Publications/Productions: SPELLS for VICTORY and COURAGE (Brighthorse Books, 2016); “Crossroads of America” (The Georgia Review, 2016); “Leah, Lamb” (The Hudson Review, 2016); “El Vaquero” (Prairie Schooner, 2014); “Jester” (Crazyhorse, 2013)

Jocelyn Johnson – Short story

Overview: Johnson’s is working on a collection of stories titled, Virginia Is Not Your Home. Short fictions of homegrowns and migrants, women and sons. Awards include: Best American Short Stories, 2018, Guest Edited by Roxane Gay; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship, 2018; 1st Place winner of the Prime Number Short Story contest, 2016; 1st place winner of Richard Bausch Short Story Award, Our Stories, 2015. Publications/Productions: “How to Explain to Your Son Why White Supremacists are Marching” (Guernica); “Control Negro” (Guernica); “The King of Xandria” (Prime Number Magazine); “The Hasselblad Fiction” (Our Stories); “Our Boy Powhatan” (Literary Mama)

Elaine Kim – Fiction

Overview: Kim is working on a novel, AND YOU, the LIVING, FOLLOW about how we live after war, after loss; how we make sense of the forces of history that squeeze and shape us; how we embrace or shy away from being agents of change in our lives and in the world around us. Her characters have suffered great loss and have been deeply affected by post-colonial establishment of authoritarian rule, the Korean War and its resulting destitution.  Kim is a Fulbright Foundation Research Fellowship Grantee, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellow. 

Suado Sheikhhassan – Non-fiction

Overview: Sheikhhassan will be working on a series of  essays about silence from the lens of being a black Muslim daughter of Somali Refugees in America during Black Lives Matter and the Trump presidency. The essays will explore her family’s silence around their migration from Somalia and their years in the Dadaab refugee camps and how it mirrors her own silence about being sexually assaulted while at a predominantly white liberal arts college.

Publications/Productions: “Silence is a lonely country: A Prayer in 12 Parts” (Longreads, 2018); “The Mundane Miracle of Resistence” (The Mirror, 2016); “And did you know?” (Documentum, 2016); “For women of color…” (The Dartmouth Radical, 2015); “Brown Girl, Heal” (Black Girl Dangerous, 2014)

Rena Priest – Short story

Overview: In 2016, Priest (a Lummi tribe member) fought against the proposal to place North America’s largest coal port in their traditional fishing areas.  Through that work, many stories came to her by way of oral history and personal experience.  Priest will be working on a collection of short-stories which are connected by the theme of water, particularly the Salish Sea. The stories employ setting as both backdrop, and protagonist. She has received fellowships from the NYC Center for Book Arts Emerging Writers, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Publications/Productions: Published in: Sweet Tree Review, Diagram, Floating Bridge Press, MoonPath Press, Collateral Journal

Mahreen Sohail – Fiction

Overview: Sohail is working on a manuscript of her novel, exploring the nuances of grieving and burial in Pakistan and how traditions and rituals rooted in Islam alienate and comfort women.  The manuscript explores the characters’ changing relationship to gender roles, religion and each other as they deal with the passing of a loved one.  After the death of the father, mother and daughter learn to live alone in a society whose public spaces and offices are built to cater exclusively to men.  Sohail is the winner of the Pushcart Prize Anthology, 2018. Publications/Productions: Published in: A Public Space, Kenyon Review, No Tokens, Post Road, Cincinnati Review

Su Hwang – Political/activist writing

Overview: Hwang will be working on her second poetry collection titled ROOST.  At the moment, the essays in verse contend with fraught histories through a blistering feminist of color filter with dashes of dark humor. She sees ROOST as the first of many manifestos exploring history, the lyric voice, politics, spirituality, various systems of oppression, slavery, and the limitations of our humanity.  Hwang has received several grants for her writing. 

Kathy Price – Hybrid

Overview: While at Hedgebrook, Price intends to work on her project, Whiskey Gulch, EPA, Ca., focusing on the 1960’s; Viet Nam War;  Black Panthers; first generation offspring; beneficiaries of The Great Migration; among other subjects, while examining opposing black/white relationship coping mechanisms against the realities of racism. Narratives reference brutality of recent and past history, with sexual abuse as subtext. African American music, mysticism, southern black culture bring context.  Price won the National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book Award, and is a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. Publications/Productions: Published in: TriQuarterly Review, Rumpus, Chronogram

Laura Schmitt – Fiction

Overview: Schmitt’s fiction is contoured by her background as a multiracial woman raised by monoracial parents.  Her current novel entitled, The Free Country, explores how racism takes its turn in families and how intimate, absurd, and painful racism can be in the context of the multiracial nuclear family.  The novel is ultimately an allegory about white supremacy and American colonialism, and is a harsh critique of America at a time when we have become dangerous to ourselves and the world. Publications/Productions: Published in: Boulevard literary magazine

Cheryl Harris – Academic/critical writing

Overview: Harris’ book will use stories of black people facing the threat of foreclosure, to ground an analysis of how the logic of debt and finance situates them as simultaneously risky and valuable. She plans to illustrate how debt was manufactured and used in these black geographies to justify the removal of democratic governance in the name of fiscal responsibility. Harris is the recipient of many awards and recognitions for her teaching and civil rights work. Publications/Productions: “Whiteness as Property” (Harvard Law Review); “Bell’s Blues” (University of Chicago Law Review); “The New Racial Preferences” (California Law Review); “Whitewashing Race” (Scapegoating Culture)

Marie Cruz – Children’s

Overview: Cruz’s journey as a writer began with the desire to see books on the American market that included stories of Filipino people and their culture, especially in the children’s book market.  The novel she will be working on at Hedgebrook explores the bonds of sisterhood and friendship, the healing body and mind, and a good dose of Filipino culture and mysticism. Cruz’s book, Everlasting Nora was the Junior Library Guild Selection, Fall 2018. Publications/Productions: EVERLASTING NORA (Starscape Tor Books, 2018); “Lunacy”, WOLF GIRLS ANTHOLOGY (Hic Dragones, 2012); “The Secret Princess Society” FRACTURED FABLES ANTHOLOGY (Shadowline Comics, 2010)

Ama Codjoe – Poetry

Overview: Codjoe plans on completing her first full-length collection of poems entitled, Iterations of Being.  These poems aim to investigate the identity of an African-American woman whose personal and familial stories stretch across both sides of the Atlantic, while investigating the ideas of iteration, repetition, and transformation through subjects such as memory, girlhood, nature, and fertility.  Codjoe is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award. Publications/Productions: Published in: Virginia Quarterly Review, Callaloo, Four Way Review, Georgia Review, The Golden Shovel Anthology

Jennifer Lunden – Creative non-fiction

Overview: In ONE CANARY SINGS: Notes from an Industrialized Body, Lunden’s illness is the through-line consolidating a narrative blending memoir, history, science, and social criticism to reveal the health hazards of unfettered industrial capitalism.  Lunden is the recipient of a $25,000 Canada Council for the Arts Research and Creation Grant, among many other awards and recognitions.

Publications/Productions: “The Butterfly Effect” True Stories, Well Told… From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine (In Fact Books, 2014); “Exposed: The Mammogram Myth and the Pinkwashing of America” (Orion); “Evidence,” (River Teeth); Evidence, in Track Change” (DIAGRAM)

Michele Bombardier – Poetry

Overview: Bombardier investigates the idea of iteration, repetition, and transformation through subjects such as memory, girlhood, nature, and fertility. These poems aim to investigate the identity of an African-American woman whose personal and familial stories stretch across both sides of the Atlantic.

Publications/Productions: What We Do (Aldrich Press, 2018); Journal publications: Alaska Quarterly Review, Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Artemis and many others

Suzanne Edison – Creative non-fiction

Overview: Edison is currently producing a “small” book of original poems and visual art about autoimmune diseases in conjunction with the Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle. She hopes to outline ideas for a full-length book and write a couple of essays while at Hedgebrook.  She has received three grants for her current work.

Publications/Productions: Published in Journal of the American Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association Journal, The Seattle Times. Included in the anthology FACE to FACE: WOMEN WRITERS on FAITH, MYSTICISM and AWAKENING.

Nichole LeFebvre – Memoir

Overview: Nichole received her MFA at the University of Virginia, where she taught creative writing. Nichole has taught courses on book publishing at Writer House (Charlottesville) and the Backspace Writers’ Conference (New York). She is inspired by literary, music, psychological, and queer theory. She hopes to widen the scope of mental illness stories in the public conversation.

Publications/Productions: “A Tale of Two Sylvias”, Lit Hub; “Three at the Bar on the Fourth of July”, Prairie Schooner; “My Mother, Killing A Lizard”, Paper Darts; “Love in Lilac Velcro”, The Toast

Leah Hampton – Fiction

Overview:  Leah writes about Appalachia, corpses, ecoanxiety, and smart women. Her debut collection, F*ckface and Other Stories, will be released by Henry Holt in May 2020. A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, she has been awarded UT-Austin’s Keene Prize for Literature, the James Hurst Prize for Fiction, and the Doris Betts Prize

Publications/Productions:  Parkway,” forthcoming in Ecotone magazine; “Fuckface,” in storySouth; multiple stories in Appalachian Heritage and North Carolina Literary Review; multiple poems and comedic pieces in online magazines; Editor in Chief of Bat City Review

Courtney Denelle Short Fiction

Overview: Courtney is a fiction writer from Providence, Rhode Island. Her stories have appeared in The Alembic, Tahoma Literary Review, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere. She has been awarded a residency from Hedgebrook, and received her greater education from the public library.

Publications/Productions:  “Which You,” Tahoma Literary Review, Issue 12, Summer 2018; “The Kiss,” The Alembic, Spring 2017; The Seems-Like Kind, America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction 2018; Use Your Words, The Southampton Review September 2019

Ann Patty – Creative non-fiction

Overview: Ann worked in New York trade publishing for more than thirty years. She was the founder and publisher of The Poseidon Press and an executive editor at Crown Publishers and Harcourt. Her first discovery as an editor was V. C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. 

Publications/Productions: Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin, Viking/Penguin 2016, Penguin Paperback 2017; “The people who are bringing latin to life,” The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2016; “If you think Latin is dead, think again!”, Lingua Franca, June 22, 2016; “Living with a Dead Language, “PW Soapbox, April 11 2016; “Learn the F**king Rules!” Publishing Perspectives; “Planting Flowers with V. C. Andrews, “TheToast.net

By Gabrielle James

Equivox Virtual Event Update

Dear Hedgebrook Friends,

As we let you know last week, we have made the decision to transform Equivox from an in-person event to a virtual (online) community fundraiser. With the health and well-being of our community at the heart of our decision making, we are excited to be going in this new, innovative direction!
What can you expect from our virtual event?

  • Inspiring videos from wonderful speakers
  • Moving testimonials from Hedgebrook Alumnae
  • Virtual raise-the-paddle
  • Small auction of curated items and experiences

 Keep an eye on your inbox next week for information about how you can participate in this new way to support Hedgebrook. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where we will be sharing testimonials from our almunae that you can share far and wide.

We will be reaching out to table hosts individually next week. To those of you who have already turned your tickets or tables into a donation, we thank you! Your generosity paves the way for success!
If you have questions, concerns or require a refund, please contact us at equivox@hedgebrook.org.

We want to thank you for your support, kind words, and good energy. It makes a world of difference!

Warmly,
The Hedgebrook Team

By Gabrielle James

Equivox Reimagined!

Recognizing the personal and collective challenges of these times, we hope this message finds you happy and healthy. Please know we extend our deepest gratitude to you for the unique part you play in uplifting and inspiring our creative community. 

We are particularly attuned right now to all the communities, both internationally and here in Washington State, where the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting our most vulnerable members and disrupting every level of activity. This heartfelt concern extends to each of you.

Given this unprecedented situation, we are in the process of re-envisioning Equivox 2020 from an in-person community gathering to something new and innovative – and yes, virtual. In these uncertain times, we know that experiencing the power of community only serves to strengthen, heal, and uplift us all. With such a remarkable lineup of Equivox speakers whose work has already transformed humanity, we feel we cannot miss this chance to cast light and hope into the world. Even online, we can fortify our mutual commitment to Hedgebrook’s mission and be buoyed by others dedicated to amplifying women’s voices. This is at the heart of Hedgebrook, and we will continue to deliver our message to the world.

Thank you for your patience as we eagerly explore options for an online event, which we hope will offer some of the moving moments typical of our one-of-a-kind brunch. Know that our staff members and the Equivox planning committee are working closely together to pinpoint the right technical solutions, and we will share more as our plans crystalize.

Given this is our largest fundraiser of the year, we invite you to imagine the extraordinary impact Hedgebrook’s writers have already had on changing our society for the better and then envision that impact magnified a thousand-fold. We hope that this will inspire you to continue your support of our mission as you are able. However, if you would like a refund for your ticket or table, please contact us at equivox@hedgebrook.org.

Thank you again for your generous support of women’s voices. We will be sending updates via email, Facebook and Twitter. Your ongoing engagement will ensure that Hedgebrook continues to shape our culture now and for generations to come.

Warmly,

The Hedgebrook Team

By Gabrielle James

Honoring Black Girl Magic!

Black women storytellers have changed our lives in ways too numerous to count. With voices that ring out through diverse media, they continue to shape our culture and center important American narratives. At Hedgebrook, our commitment to celebrating black women writers, poets, musicians, and filmmakers is evidenced in the work of our remarkable alumnae community.

We asked some of our Hedgebrook sisters to share with us how black women storytellers have affected their lives. This open question inspired words of gratitude to flow from our alums as they opined with delight, sharing their tremendous reverence for black women, past and present, and more than a few love notes to the great Toni Morrison. We are thrilled to share with you some of their replies.


“My first play commission was a “bio” play of Theodora the Empress of Byzantium. I wanted to come at it in a new way, but couldn’t find the inspiration. Then. I met actress Michelle Wilson. Viciously smart, generous, hilarious, and fiercely talented, she was the best collaborator I’d ever met. Michelle always tells the truth. She holds your feet to the fire and pushes you to go beyond what you think you can do.  My way of working (and my career) was never the same. All hail Michelle Wilson.” -Jamie Pachino 


“1982: writing my dissertation in sixteenth-century theology; a friend happened upon Their Eyes Were Watching God in the library; I borrowed it and fell in love with Zora Neale Hurston. Read everything I could get my hands on. Spunk, Mules and Men, The Sanctified Church, Moses Man of the Mountain, Dust Tracks on a Road. Her mind, humor, art—inimitable self! 1989: named my daughter after her. 2019: enthralled by Barracoon. 2020: still in love.” -Mary Lane Potter, Ph.D, MFA


Kindred, by Octavia Butler, shook me to the core. It’s a brilliant example of the “time-travel genre” being used for social commentary, but it’s so much more. Butler’s imaginative empathy dissolved the historical distance between contemporary times and the antebellum south and hurled me into the heart of the complex, traumatizing slave/master relationship in a way no strait-up historical novel ever could.

Lucille Clifton brought the light of possibility into my life. Her words, their cultural weight, and significance, when reading on the page or aloud, reminded me of home, of so many influential black women in my life. In seeing and hearing those words, she let me know that I, too, could become a poet.” -Teri Ellen Cross Davis

In seeing and hearing those words, she let me know that I too could become a poet.


“When I was in my twenties, I heard Maya Angelou speak in Portland, Oregon. She held an audience of hundreds spellbound with her reading, her ferocity, and her clarity. Someday, she told us, we would need to answer to our ancestors. I wish I could remember her exact words, but the gist of the question was: “…And what have you been doing to make my sweat and struggle, count?” Now in my fifties, I still think about that question and aspire to live a life that can justify the efforts of my own immigrant great-grandparents and all the fierce, courageous women, including Angelou herself, who came before me.” -Anndee Hochman


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ama Ata Aidoo, Sharon Draper, Buchi Emecheta, Tayari JonesBebe Moore Campbell, Gloria Naylor, April Sinclair, Zadie Smith, Dorothy West, and Brenda Scott Wilkinson are just a few of the many black women storytellers whose works have shaped me and/or stayed with me and challenged me to write more deeply and honestly.

If I had to narrow it down to one writer whose work has made the most indelible impression on me, it would be Buchi Emecheta. Her novel The Joys of Motherhood came into my life just as I was grasping my way towards grown womanhood, and it helped me reflect on the particular experience of being a woman, namely how cultural mores and time conspire to define a woman’s value. Set in post-colonial Nigeria, Joys taught me to honor my mother and my father in a new way, specifically, to respect that before I entered their lives, they had had dreams, hopes and weathered devastating disappointments. They had made bargains and sacrifices to give me the life I had, and I owed them something for that–not my life, but something.

The Joys of Motherhood gave me the space to consider what I wanted my life to look like; it dared me to ask myself what I was willing to sacrifice to get it, and how I would survive if I failed or succeeded. It made me proud to be West African, and it made me want to write about Ghana, to situate the joys and conundrums of life in a context growing up in America had made me ashamed of. After reading Joys, I aspired to write differently.

Wide Sargasso Sea made me want to write. Taking the demonized madwoman who burns down Mr.Rochester’s house in Jane Eyre from the shadows of colonialism and revealing her as its victim, showed me the horrors and legacy of my Jamaican past. The book began my awareness of how the black (female especially) body was valued only as it served white greed but was then cast as that greed’s biggest and worst spectre.” -Suzanne McFayden

After reading Joys, I aspired to write differently.


When I was an NYU freshman, I saw Toni Morrison read from her novel Paradise at a packed Barnes & Noble. Her words were powerful and memorable. After, there was a Q&A. I’ll never forget when a man asked, “When I write, my words sound so terrible.” He asked, “How do your words turn out so beautifully?” Toni Morrison glanced at her book. “While reading this, there are words I’d change. I would rewrite forever, but at some point, you have to let it go.” I was in awe. I waited with lots of other folks to get my book signed. I was nervous. She’s my favorite writer. I don’t remember what I said exactly. But I did say, “I’m a writer.” She looked at me said, “Keep writing.” I left that night with that memory of Toni Morrison telling me to keep writing. And I have and I will. Her books left imprints on my heart. Thank you for that kindness and your words, Toni Morrison. -Jennifer Chen

She looked at me said, “Keep writing.”


Toni [Morrison]. Her courage to remain loyal to her characters, in telling the stories as they wanted to be told and her focus on writing stories about things no one wanted to talk about gave me the courage to write from my gut. -Barbara Mhangami


Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: Such a short book, yet every page, every word so painful to read because I knew Pecola. Her yearning—for eyes so blue they’d make her beautiful and visible—was mine. My classmates and neighbors looked at this Jewish girl born in North Africa and saw through the olive skin and eyes to her pieds noirs (black feet) and black heart and called her Jungle Jew. Morrison gave Pecola the bitter Little Mermaid ending, where you get your wish at the price of your soul. That little book burned through me until I swore I would make people see me through my words: I would not be invisible. -Ruth Setton


When I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the 1980s, Toni Morrison came to the English department to teach for a semester. Her son was an undergraduate at the time. She held regular office hours, which were publically posted, so I went to her first hour, thinking to find a crowd. Nobody was there but Morrison. I explained who I was and she graciously invited me in to chat. I went back every week for the entire semester, just to talk to her. No one else ever showed up, not a single other student. I asked her why and she said she thought the students were afraid of her.

Anyway, of course, her prose changed my perspective, particularly Beloved (which I have taught, now that I’m a full professor of English at the Univ. of Florida) but she gave me the best advice for a young writer, and I will always remember it. I asked her, is it possible to become a professor of literature AND write fiction. At the time, I was being discouraged and told to choose one or the other. Morrison frowned, laughed and said, “hell yes. In the past, writers always did both so why not now? It is an utterly ridiculous notion, to say you can’t do both.”

And I have, ever since. I’m 60 now, and my seventh novel is about to be published, because I had Toni Morrison’s laughter and ‘hell yes’ at my back all these years. -Stephanie Ann Smith

By Gabrielle James

Hedgebrook Program Director Opportunity

“Hedgebrook is like a stone, sending out ripples into the gigantic pond of the world.”

-Anjali Banerjee, author of seven novels and Hedgbrook alumna

“Hedgebrook is a global campfire.”

-Gloria Steinem

Hedgebrook is looking to hire a new Program Director! Vito Zingarelli, our current Program Director extraordinaire, will be moving on this spring after masterfully serving Hedgebrook for over a dozen years. In the coming months, we will celebrate his many remarkable contributions.

Since opening its doors in 1988, Hedgebrook has hosted over 2,000 writers in residence, many of whom have gone on to win major literary accolades. In addition to this core program, Hedgebrook offers master classes, workshops, salons, events, and online classes. These exciting offerings are based on Whidbey Island, WA and in some other locations nationally and internationally. We are looking to find someone who has the experience, vision and personal qualities to take on this critical position in the organization.

We serve up radical hospitality when hosting women and non-binary writers, musicians, filmmakers, thinkers, and shapers of culture. The PD is central to delivering this hospitality though a well-established menu of programs. In addition, the PD will be called on to develop new opportunities to support women writers in honing their art and craft and magnifying their voices in the world.

The ideal candidate will be an experienced professional who has already been successful in developing, managing and directing programs in other nonprofit organizations – ideally in the arts and literature arenas. This person will need to have a collaborative and inclusive style, an exceptional capacity for holding the big picture in mind while attending to detail, and the creative prowess to both maintain the core legacy programs of Hedgebrook and leverage additional offerings towards expanding our impact in the world. Compassion, integrity and a sense of humor are a must.

Also, know that Hedgebrook is committed to equity and inclusion. We believe different voices and perspectives enrich our culture, raise our awareness, and make our community stronger. We welcome people of all races, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations, and strongly encourage applications from people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.

If you would like to learn more about our programs for 2020 click here.

For more information and to apply, please click here.

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A Message From Elise Miller
Hedgebrook Welcomes New Program Director, Amber Flame
A Message About Coronavirus
Morning Rituals for Writers
Denise Barr, Hedgebrook’s beloved House Chef, is leaving the retreat.
Introducing 2019 Hedgebrook Alumnae
Equivox Virtual Event Update
Equivox Reimagined!
Honoring Black Girl Magic!
Hedgebrook Program Director Opportunity