It started at Hedgebrook.

By Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

After two weeks of nurture and building fires, of re-dreaming the structure of an old novel in my Waterfall cabin, I ambled down to the pumphouse where I could connect my laptop to the internet and sent an essay I had written six months earlier to an editor at Salon.com. No one had been interested in my essay when I first finished it, but Hedgebrook is magic. Sarah, the editor who accepted it, had a keen eye for cutting disclaimers and retitling.  Several days after I returned home, new novel finished and lifelong friends made, Sarah sent me a note that the essay would go up that night, with a gentle warning that comments on the site could sometimes be aggressive and I shouldn’t take them as a reflection of how the piece was being enjoyed by the larger readership.

I woke up to fifty pieces of hate email in my inbox.  By the next afternoon, the “firestorm” as one host on The View would later call it, had prompted an interview request from MSNBC-TV. Someone from the Today Show came to the green room while I was waiting for that interview, and by the time Meredith Vieira’s interview with me aired the next morning, the emails were coming every thirty seconds: I enlisted vetters since many were too vile to read. The hate was not about me, or my essay, or the very literary memoir that inspired it, about war and motherhood, which had been tapped for an award but otherwise had not attracted much attention.

It was about the essay’s title: “Why I Left My Children.”        Read more

Rhubarb Cake

By Denise Barr

Each spring, when the rhubarb begins to flourish, this recipe is a hit with staff and residents at the retreat. It’s just one example of the way Hedgebrook features the bounty of the land and garden in the kitchen and at the table. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cake

Preheat oven 350
Butter and flour baking dish (9×9 or 7×11)

½ C butter (soft)
1 C sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ C unbleached flour
3 tea baking powder
¼ tea salt
½ cup milk
1 tea vanilla extract
2 ½ C chopped rhubarb (¾ to 1 in pieces, about 4 stalks)

Cream butter and sugar until light
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat well
In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt
In separate bowl combine milk and vanilla
Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to butter mixture
Spread 1/2 batter into buttered and floured baking dish
Sprinkle on rhubarb (do not press rhubarb down)
Top with rest of batter

Back 35-40 min. plus (test with a tooth pick, should come out clean)

Variation: May replace rhubarb with 2 ½ C blueberries or 2 ½ C raspberries

Welcome to Hedgebrook’s Much-Anticipated Blog!

By Amy Wheeler

Several years ago, Hedgebrook friend, local writer and owner of Whidbey Island’s iconic Clyde Theatre, Lynn Willeford, asked me point blank (in true Lynn fashion), “When is Hedgebrook going to have a blog? I’m interested in knowing what’s on your writer’s minds.”

Lynn was, characteristically, ahead of the curve with her vision! But she planted a seed in my mind about how we could begin to communicate the growing impact of Hedgebrook with our community. And not just on the impact on the writers who come here, but on the world-at-large because of those writers and the work they produce here.

In short: the idea that what happens at Hedgebrook doesn’t stay at Hedgebrook.   Read more

There’s No Place Like Hedgebrook

By Hedgebrook Guest

14 years later, on a teasingly sunny newly spring day, sitting at a desk in Hedgebrook’s office, I’m remembering my first trip out to Hedgebrook. I remember the feeling traveling over here from Seattle, where I was then the Literary Manager/Dramaturg at ACT Theatre. We were partnering with Hedgebrook on producing the first annual (then called) ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, which, in two weeks, will now be in its 14th year. I remember then my curiosity, excitement, anticipation…venturing into the unknown that was Hedgebrook.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember boarding the ferry, and feeling an energy shift midway out on the water as the ferry approached Whidbey Island. A calmness set in, a peacefulness, a pause. I remember approaching the farm, riding through Hedgebrook’s welcoming gates, and feeling the energy around me—the quiet and peace, yes, combined with the spirit of all the generous work and gifts left here from hundreds of women residents before me.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember the face of one of the playwrights who, after an amazing dinner of food prepared from the garden, rose to take her plate to the sink, and was told by the chef, “Sit down, you are here to be a writer. Let us take care of that.” The writer’s face froze in mid-reaction, mouth open, eyes beginning to well up with tears. That image remains with me: a poignant example of what it means for a woman to be given the gift of nurturance, space and time.        Read more

Women Authoring Change

By Elana Lim

After attending Hedgebrook’s inaugural Master Class, I was inspired to contribute to the Board of Directors, joining others in furthering Hedgebrook’s mission.

“Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come.”

This mission has personal meaning for me. Just two generations before, 人人 (Ngin Ngin, meaning paternal grandmother) in our Toisanese dialect of Chinese, came to America as Tow Yee Moo (wife of Tow Yee). She started her American life in Seattle’s Chinatown in 1921, where she died in 1981. During her life, she never felt safe to tell her story to any of her family. However, because of her trek during uncertain times, she changed the direction of future generations, and I was now benefitting, having been granted an opportunity to sit at the Hedgebrook table and write stories of growing up in Chinatown.

During my Master Class experience, I was touched by the fairies in the circle of their mushroom rings. I was astounded by the depths of the women I met. My sanctuary became the worn wooden bench, set inside a fairy ring, where the sun rose beyond the cattails. A dancing fire snapped its fingers in the wood burning stove and kept my toes warm and my body fed. The pressure of a midnight silence was so deep and still that my head felt as if it might explode.   Read more

Reading Women

By Sarah Ladipo Manyika

There is a library at Hedgebrook, bursting with books–skinny ones, tall ones, fat ones, and colourful ones. Some of these books have just arrived, while others have lived on the shelves for years and now carry the sweet scent of wood-burning fires. What makes this library truly unique though, is that all the books are written by women who once stayed at Hedgebrook. And this is why, on my first day at Hedgebrook, I stood in awe in front of the oak beamed shelves, alternately tiptoeing then crouching while running a finger along the rows of solid spines.

I started with some short stories by Ursula Le Guin, and a novel by Sarah Waters, both writers I had heard of but never previously read. And then, because I come from Africa and Europe, I searched specifically for writers whose lives, like mine, straddle continents, and I found a slim little book, a play in fact, co-written by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter. In the three weeks that followed, I established an afternoon routine that always began with finding a patch of sunlight in which to sit.  I would then read for hours.   Read more

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