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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 Jill McCabe Johnson

How I Didn’t Give Up on Hedgebrook Which is to Say, How Hedgebrook Didn’t Give Up on Me

The first time I applied to the Hedgebrook artist residency, my writing sample draggled all over the place with poems about eagles’ nests and walking the dog and my mother’s death. If memory serves me, that year Hedgebrook received something like 911 applications and awarded residencies to 50+ women writers. At the time, I probably told myself I was not one of the lucky writers. Now I know better.

Discouraged by the numbers, I didn’t apply again for another couple of years. That year, Hedgebrook received fewer applications. I still did not get in. My poetry, it seemed to me, was better than it had ever been. Was it not good enough? Was I not good enough?

In two years, I applied for a third time, now with nonfiction that addressed women’s issues. Maybe this was what the Hedgebrook judges wanted? Then again, perhaps not. Yet again, I was not accepted. It’s not that I thought I deserved a Hedgebrook residency. If anything, I started to look at my application as a donation. After all, the women who did get in were amazing — under-represented voices whose important works deserved the boost of Hedgebrook’s support. If I didn’t get in, at least I knew my application fee went toward supporting other women writers. Plus, Hedgebrook’s application fee had remained $30 while other residencies’ fees crept up to $35, $40, $50, and more. So I made my application/donation an annual event, then waited for their kindly worded rejection.

Hedgebrook poses a question to help applicants focus their proposals: Why Hedgebrook, Why Now? With each application cycle, I did my best to answer this question, but in retrospect, I see that I continued to explain what I thought the judges wanted to hear. In 2018, I responded in earnest. I’d been working on a poetry manuscript, The Disruption Regime, that contends with potentially catastrophic events in nature, politics, and history that have served as a stimulus for new growth. I had attended a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar program on the Native American West and also amassed a vast range of research. I sought time “to work uninterrupted and un-selfconsciously,” to “grapple with these issues and do the strange, undefinable dance of lifting and shaping them into poetry.” It was the most thorough and honest application, and therefore the best application, I’d ever submitted anywhere. I told my husband, if Hedgebrook doesn’t take me now, I’ll probably never get in.

In late fall, the notice arrived. Hedgebrook was granting me an artist residency. I spent three glorious weeks writing in Owl Cottage. A Hedgebrook volunteer helped me do more research, and each evening I was inspired by the remarkable women writers who gathered around the farmhouse table. After dinner, I perused the Hedgebrook library of alumnae works to read in my cottage for more inspiration. 

Equally inspiring were the voices of frogs, owls, and other nocturnal beasts who serenaded us through the night. Hedgebrook helped me revisit my work-in-progress in fresher yet more profound ways.

Bolstered by Hedgebrook’s belief in my work, a few nights before I departed, I sent query letters to a handful of agents for another work in progress: my memoir, Learning to Spar. By noon the next day, two of the agents expressed interest, and by Monday morning, there was a contract in my inbox. Sure, I might have found an agent without Hedgebrook, but I credit Hedgebrook all the same. They gave me the courage to send out that query.

Now, I think, what if I had given up discouraged after that first application? What if I had not taken the attitude that my application fee would do good in the world, regardless of whether I got a residency? I am grateful to Hedgebrook. I’m just as thankful to the other women writers who have applied, not necessarily expecting a residency so much as supporting a sisterhood of women writers. In that way, we are all supporting each other and all part of the magic that is Hedgebrook.

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 Gabrielle James

Hedgebrook Celebrates International Women’s Day!

The impact of Hedgebrook has a ripple effect as alumnae go out into the world and tell their stories. Their work has made it onto stage and screen, concert halls, lecture halls, classrooms, stadiums, poetry slams, bookstores, libraries and even Congress! 

For International Women’s Day we celebrate our Hedgebrook sisters around the globe. Here are a few updates on how our alumnae are authoring change in their part of the world.

Shasta Grant – Singapore

In Singapore, I’ve been meeting up with a group of diverse women writers for “submission parties.” We get together and submit our work to journals/contests/residencies/etc. It’s a great way to make the business end of writing more fun and social (and of course, it’s wonderful to cheer each other on!). I’m working on revising a novel and — fingers crossed — will send it to my agent next month. My website is www.shastagrant.com

Edna Manlapaz– Philippines

Currently I am Executive Director of Sacred Springs: Dialogue Institute on Spirituality and Sustainability at the Loyola School of Theology here in the Philippines. This coming school year, we are introducing into our Certificate Program in Integral Ecology a theological course grounded in eco-feminism. Yes! 

Minal Harjatwala – India

My travel guidebook to Fiji is about to launch, with an emphasis on local artists/artisans including women landowners, business owners, artists, entrepreneurs, and eco-friendly tour operators. I met an indigenous Fijian divemaster who was part of the original group of divers who mapped the Rainbow Reef, now considered one of the world’s top dive destinations for soft corals (she has a dive site named after her). And I profiled a trekking company run by another woman, where indigenous Fijian guides co-own the company and lead hikers through their own mountain highlands. In Fiji–where indigenous communities own 87% of the land–travelers have plenty of choices that strike a good balance of having a great time while also learning and respecting the gorgeous land and sea. Women and LGBTQ people are creating change in Fiji, which is also taking on a leadership role in battling the climate crisis and taking in climate refugees from other island nations in the South Pacific. It was my honor to meet some of the folks doing this important work and help draw attention to it. The book (with 100+ color photos, so perfect for armchair travelers!) is in pre-orders now. My own website is www.minalhajratwala.com.

Monica Macansantos– New Zealand

I recently earned my PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in New Zealand, and I am currently finishing the novel I worked on as my dissertation, which centers women’s experiences during the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. I am also about to attend another residency in the US, the KHN Center for the Arts in Nebraska, where I hope to finalize edits on my novel. I also work as a freelance journalist, and have written about topics such as a mining disaster in the Philippines, Filipino food in the diaspora, Filipina sexuality, and mourning my father’s death for anthologies and outlets such as The New Filipino Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Around the Globe, VICE New Zealand, New Naratif, SBS Life, andAotearotica, among other places. You can learn more about my recent projects on my website, monicamacansantos.com. Here is a picture of my workspace in New Zealand, where I lived until very recently. 

Githa Hariharan –India

My new novel, I Have Become the Tide, was just published by Simon & Schuster in India; and an edited volume called Battling for India: A Citizen’s Reader will be out later this month.

Tania De Rozario – Singapore

In January 2019, my new book, “Somewhere Else, Another You”, was released by Math Paper Press. On 15 March, I will be speaking on a panel about “Writing Across Intersection: Asia Diaspora”as part of Growing Room, a festival organized by Room Magazine, Canada’s oldest feminist literary journal. On 28 March, I will be on an AWP panel called “Assimilate This!: Queer Literary Community as Sites of Mobilizing & Resistance”, where I will be talking about Queer Lit communities in Singapore.

Mary Teng – Australia

My translation of 60 Chinese classical poems, ‘Not Perfect’ is in its second imprint; I am writing a memoir that includes my poetry and running a bilingual poetry workshop as a volunteer at MOSAIC, a multicultural center.  Most members are migrants. They bring their favorite poems in their native tongue and read them to the group; I help some of them translate those poems into English.  More on our website: bilingualpoetry.wordpress.com. photo by William Yang.

By Dana Stabenow

Storyknife

1989 I was busily engaged in sending novels to New York agents and watching them return like little homing pigeons. That spring a story appeared in the local paper about a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island in Washington state. It was calledHedgebrook. I thought, “What a wonderful opportunity for some lucky writer, but they’d never take me.” My best friend, Katherine Gottlieb, read the same storyand called me to say, “You should apply.” It took her a week of nagging until Ifinally did, and in the fall of that year I flew to Seattle, took the bus up tothe Mukilteo ferry, and was met on the other side by Holly Gault, the thenchef/manager in residence who drove me the rest of the way.

It was an old farm with five (we watched the sixth cottage go up while I was there) beautiful new post-and-beam cottages with stained glass windows and hand-woven throws, in a quiet, iconically Pacific Northwest setting where every morning I’d look up to see wild rabbits carousing out front or Nancy marching by with a rifle to scareoff the deer. On a clear day, the Seattle skyline was only a distant reminderof the madding world. I rode the farm bike to the library in Freeland and tothe beach to dig for clams and Holly took us up to Coupeville for mussels and beer.

And I wrote. I worked on anovel, I wrote a short story inspired by something I saw on the beach, I even wrote a sonnet, my one and only, and left it behind in the cottage journal.It’s pretty bad.

 Dana’s  original piece from Waterfall Cottage journals shared with her permission.



I was there for two weeks. I had all day in Waterfall Cottage to work without interruption, and every evening over dinner I could talk shop and tell war stories with my fellow residents, author Kathleen Alcala, poet Amy Pence, and author Susan Brown. It was a seminal, no, it was the seminal moment of my career. It was the first time anyone had ever acted around me like writing was a real job (“Sit down,”Nancy said when I got up to help clear the dinner dishes, “you’ve already doneyour work for the day.”) and it was the first time I’d ever been in the companyof other women writers. It turned out I wasn’t the only person who thoughtadjectives were important.

I sold my first book the following year. So when I unexpectedly found myself with four acres of view property in Homer, Alaska, it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine what to do with it. When Hedgebrook invited me back for their 25th anniversary they toldme they could have as many as 1,400 applications for 40 spaces in a singlesemester. Unquestionably there is a need. I started a nonprofit corporation andbegan a capital campaign fund which has to date raised $500,000 of the $1million it will cost to build a main house and six cabins. We have two grant applicationspending and if they come through we will begin construction in April 2019, andwe hope to be in operation in 2020.

There is a direct line from my residency at Hedgebrook to the subsequent publication of the first of my thirty-four novels, to my appearance on the New York Times bestseller list, to my winning an Edgar award, to being named Individual Artist for the Governor’s Arts Awards in 2007.

And there is a direct line from Hedgebrook to Storyknife. It is my hope that, like Hedgebrook, Storyknife will build a sustainable community where women writers will find the support and encouragement they need to succeed.

Hedgebrook led the way. We are only following them.

Storyknife

Fireweed Storyknife
Snow Storyknife
Storyknife Neighbor
Alpenglow on Ilimna

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 Judith Sornberger

Sacred Conversation

My friend Alison Townsend and I frequently evaluate how our days and weeks have gone based on whether we have “kept the appointment with the desk,” as she calls the time we spend writing. It’s not so much a measure of how much we have—or have not—accomplished that concerns us, but rather the quality of our lives that feel vastly diminished when we aren’t writing on a regular basis. It’s easy to discount the importance of our own writing in the lives of others. Yet, I don’t know how I would have survived as a writer—or, indeed, as a woman—without the essays, books, and poems written by Alison and other women writers whose work I love.

Alison and I met 28 years ago when we had residencies at Hedgebrook. Although we’d both had poems published in literary magazines and anthologies, neither of us had had a book published, so we could hardly believe our luck at landing residencies there.

I arrived at my Hedgebrook cottage just in time to walk down the hill to the farmhouse to meet the other writers for dinner. Alison, Joanne Mulcahy (the other resident), Dolores, the cook and manager, and I ate borscht followed by blueberries with cream for dessert. That night we three writers walked back to our cottages together, pausing to watch the lunar eclipse and, in the safety of darkness, speak more intimately of our lives. As soon as I returned to my cottage, I headed to my “desk” and began a poem for which Alison and Joanne were my muses.

During the long writing days, I sensed them writing away in their cottages, imagining us as religious sisters in a Medieval Abbey, each of us doing our work in our cells, each making our small contributions to communal life. Although the subjects on which we wrote and our writing styles were unique, our writing seemed a kind of collaboration, as though we were silently engaging in a sacred conversation.

In the evenings, we talked about how the day’s writing had gone and read to one another from the day’s harvest. Hearing that I’d never read Mary Oliver’s poetry, Alison lent me her copy of Oliver’s Twelve Moons. And we talked about our lives back home and the men we loved. The morning Joanne was to drive to the ferry, several days before Alison and I were leaving, we walked her to her car. Tears soft as the morning rain slid down my cheeks as I retraced my steps to my cottage. In just ten days, Alison and Joanne felt more like sisters than strangers—a bond formed by writing and the magic of the place.

A few days after returning home, I sent Alison a postcard of goats that reminded me of Ozzie and Harriet, the pygmy goats we helped feed while at Hedgebrook. In return, I received a six-page handwritten letter. I’d never had anything like it before—six pages of her thoughtful and lyrical prose just for me! Our long letters flew back and forth—often accompanied by poems or essays—for decades, sending encouragement, appreciation, and stories from our lives. We became close enough that those letters became crucial healing balm when we lost those we loved
When Alison’s father died in 1999, I wrote, “I wanted to send an image that would comfort you, knowing there is no comfort for such a loss, yet also knowing how much your morning glory card, your phone call, and the book you sent meant to me when my father died. The best image I could think of was a cottage from Hedgebrook. Those cottages seemed to me to be wombs, dens of renewal and comfort. I would wish these things for you, Alison.” Along with the card, I sent Mary Oliver’ newest poetry collection.

Eventually, our letters have turned into emails—less exciting than long letters in the mail, but far more frequent, and supplemented by phone calls during which we comment on each other’s recent poems and essays and comfort each other though calamities, great and small. Joanne and I continue to send letters and writing—less frequent, but still precious. The three of us also celebrate one another’s publications, all having published multiple books by now.

Bruce, my husband of 25, years died five years ago, and the things that kept me alive in the following months were talks with my sister and friends and writing poems. I was also sustained by the poems and essays Alison and Joanne sent, keeping hope alive in me if only the hope that the mail would bring more of their words. The poems I was writing were about Bruce and me—about our lives together, my loss and widowhood, and about reclaiming joy. Alison read each one, helping me develop and edit them, and sometimes crying with me on the phone as we discussed them. The book, those poems became, Practicing the World, will be published by CavanKerry Press in 2018.

When I arrived at Hedgebrook all those years ago, I knew that I had been given the amazing gift of time for writing in a gorgeous place and that this gift had boosted my confidence in my writing enormously. But I never expected that it would give me a sense of deep connection to the other two writers who shared that time with me, that they would become for me a community that would expand, in my heart, to all women who write, all those with whom I feel myself engaged in sacred conversation.

By Vero González

Rona Jaffe Foundation – 2018 Hedgebrook Fellowship

A Hedgebrook residency is a gift of freedom from duty, from physical and emotional labor, a stripping away of everything nonessential until you—the purest essence of you—are all that remains & you discover that you are not scared of the dark & that you do like dancing taking long walks waking up early & the taste of fennel, hand-picked with love in the lush Hedgebrook garden.

Hedgebrook sisterhood means all the petty, jealous, competitive feelings you have harbored about other writers are replaced by generosity, love, enthusiasm & this process can be painful because you have to confront those feelings in yourself—but no matter what comes up for you in the woods, Hedgebrook can hold it.

After four weeks of relentless gifts, when I thought Hedgebrook had given me all it could, it handed me a final one.

Being awarded the Rona Jaffe Foundation fellowship is a vote of confidence, an affirmation to repeat over and over when self-doubt creeps in, a light showing me I am on the right path, an advance to help finance a dream.

You will write.

But it is not about the word count or your deadline or your ego & its expectations.  It is about the rituals that emerge when your usual structures fall away.  The way the light drops rainbows on your cottage floor.  The way Hedgebrook continues to feed you long after your last dinner.

It is the community you didn’t know you’d been waiting for, reaching out to hold you across the distance.

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.

 

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Pollination
Introducing 2018 Hedgebrook Alumnae ​
How I Didn’t Give Up on Hedgebrook Which is to Say, How Hedgebrook Didn’t Give Up on Me
Does your writing need a spring reboot? Here are three ways to create your own DIY writing retreat:
Hedgebrook Celebrates International Women’s Day!
Storyknife
Ode to a Hedgebrook Woodstove
Sacred Conversation
Rona Jaffe Foundation – 2018 Hedgebrook Fellowship
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa