Hedgebrook LogoHedgebrook Logo
  • 0

by Janine Kovac

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”

Janine Kovac
About Janine Kovac
Janine Kovac is a metaphorical juggler. A former professional ballerina who danced in Iceland, Italy, San Francisco, and her hometown of El Paso, Texas, she has worked as a database architect, a software engineer, a web maven for San Francisco’s literary festival Litquake, and as a ballet teacher. In addition to Listen To Your Mother, Janine has performed at Literary Death Match, Lit Crawl, Beast Crawl, KQED’s Perspectives, and Litquake’s Barely Published. An avid attendee of writing workshops, she is an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Lit Camp, the Mineral School, and Hedgebrook and is the 2016 recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Fellowship. Her writing has been anthologized in Mamas Write: 29 Tales of Truth, Wit, and Grit; Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice from Parents of Twins, Triplets, and More and Nothing But the Truth: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection. Janine holds a B.A. in cognitive science from U.C. Berkeley. Her thesis “A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis of Parenting” became the scientific foundation for her book Brain Changer: A Mother’s Guide to Cognitive Science, which chronicles her experience as the mother of twins born nearly four months before they are due. Janine tells the same story from her perspective as a ballet dancer in her memoir SPINNING: Choreography for Coming Home, published through Moxie Road Productions.

No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

X
Pollination