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By Donna Miscolta

When Your Family Thinks They’re in Your Fiction

“Why did you kill me off in that story?”

Some years ago my younger daughter confronted me with this question after she had read a story I had recently completed. The story is about two sisters. I have two daughters. My older daughter insists that she is the narrator in that story.

“It’s not about you,” I said to each of them.   Read more

By Donna Miscolta

Remedies for Writer’s Envy

Writing a book seems almost effortless compared to promoting it. I don’t think I ever suffered from writer’s envy before I had a book published. I’m pretty sure I have it now. Not chronically or acutely. Just now and then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for the support I’ve received from friends, family, and my local bookstores. But like a spoiled child, I want more. I want bigger. I want what she has, the one with the book tour, or her with all the interviews, or him with the movie deal.

I’m on my own path, I tell myself. So when I’m tripped up by writer’s envy, I tend to my bruises with my own particular remedies.   Read more

By Anastacia Tolbert

Change

oh mother moon

looks like you’ve got a story to tell
tell us.

tell us at least half.
light our eyes like stars—

pause our busy & our blue rays.
give us something to tell our neighbors.

tell the news. tell our children.

whisper one version here.

one version there.

let us come together & cipher it out the next day.

let us all say i know… she told me too.

Having just witnessed a lunar eclipse in the heavens of Japan, I feel changed.

It isn’t the kind of change that one would wear like a new scarf or sassy hat, nor is it the kind of change that happens rapidly like walking into a building in daylight and returning to a parked car in darkness. It is a simmering crock pot kind of change…or, picture the late 80’s when teen agers wore pleather jackets, penny loafers and white socks and got in long lines and did the “tic.” One upward then downward motion of the hand and wrist slowly moving to the elbow, then the upper arm, then the neck and head, then miraculously to the next person. Yes. This is the kind of change I am speaking of. Crock pot 80’s dance change.   Read more

By Cathy Bruemmer

I’m a Reader not a Writer

When I give tours or orientations I am frequently asked, “Are you a writer?”  I’m not a writer. I’m a reader.   One of my rare pleasures is a chance to read a book from cover to cover in one day, preferably in my pajamas.  On a recent solo trip across the country I found myself shocked that the flight was almost over.  This happened BOTH WAYS.  All it took to transform the drudgery and discomfort of coach seats was a couple of good books and some earplugs.  Because I was traveling with my son I suppose the fact that I didn’t have to provide snacks, entertainment or listen to a few hours of chatter about the latest development in ski technology played a part in the feeling of a time warp.  But what made the trip a pleasure was the opportunity to enter a different world, to hear a new story. The gift of a good book is something I am deeply grateful for.   Read more

By Honor Molloy

Poetry in Pavements

 I grew up in a house filled with music and jokes and song. A robust language rang off the walls as the family freely quoted Synge, O’Casey, Shakespeare, or Bubbles, one of the Dublin characters my father, John Molloy, collected. Both of my parents were theatre artists dedicated to preserving a Dublin vernacular that split a two-syllable word into ten, giving it a hundred new meanings. Back in the 60s, there was lively poetry to be heard on the streets and in the markets that was rapidly fading. So, the two of them took material straight from the mouths of the Moore Street dealers, buskers, down-and-outers with extraordinary language and stories. More…

By Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

A RADICAL ACT

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” ― Muriel Rukeyser

Twenty years ago, Anita Hill sat in front of a Senate hearing and told her truth at the intersection of race and gender.  She was publically pilloried by a panel of white men. This weekend, at Hunter College, Anita Hill was celebrated by a sold-out, star-studded conference, whose participants had a chance to thank her for enduring what she has so that women today could stand on her shoulders.

After a full conference day, the evening was filled with stories, in a hot ticket night of performances curated by Eve Ensler.  But throughout the day, there was a clear refrain that will resonate with all women writers.    Read more

By Amy Wheeler

SEX, POWER AND SPEAKING TRUTH

“I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.”

~ Anita Hill, in response to Clarence Thomas’ 2007 autobiography

Two decades ago, a young female attorney with humble Oklahoma roots held America spellbound as she “spoke truth to power” on national television.

The year was 1991 and Anita Hill’s courageous testimony, delivered during the nominations process for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, raised the country’s awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace.

I remember being riveted to the television for the duration of the hearings, being shocked by the lewd comments and come-ons Hill reported Thomas making while she worked with him. But my outrage flared when the panel of all-white, all-male Senators began interrogating Hill, as if she were on trial.   Read more

By Claudia Rowe

Add Kids and Stir

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

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

By Christine Johnson-Duell

Finding Pomegranates

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

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

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

By Yvette Heyliger

An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

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

– Yvette Heyliger (yvetteheyliger@aol.com)

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

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