Active Body, Active Mind

By Hedgebrook Guest

When I showed my kids pictures of the ridiculously adorable cottages at Hedgebrook, one of which would be my home for an August 2015 residency, my son bet that I’d love the cottage so much I’d never leave it and hoped, for my sake, that it had a bathroom.

He was both correct and not (though thankfully, the cottages do have bathrooms). Each day: coffee, editing of the previous day’s writing, writing toward a new poem. I’d make up an excuse to walk the grounds once or twice, like hey, I’ve run out of fresh figs / flowers / blackberries and should go get some. Breakfast and lunch from my fridge: sheep’s milk yogurt, local honey, a container brimming with something wonderful that a Hedgebrook chef had prepared.   Read more

Sonora Jha Interviews Donna Miscolta

By Hedgebrook Guest

We asked Summer Salon teachers Sonora Jha and Donna Miscolta to interview each other for the Hedgebrook Farmhouse Table Blog. Look for Donna’s interview with Sonora next week!

Sonora: You came to writing later in life, after an education and career in everything BUT writing. What part of this do you regret, if at all? And what part do you love?

Donna: Part of the reason why I came to writing late was I had long believed that it wasn’t possible for people like me to write books, and even if I had thought it possible, I didn’t believe that I myself was capable of such a thing. I regret that it took so long for me to believe. If I had come to writing earlier, it would’ve meant more years in which to learn to write and more years to produce work. My first book was published when I was 58. I turn 63 this year when my second book comes out. I’ve just finished a new novel manuscript and am two-thirds of the way through another one. My kids are grown and retirement from my day job is on the horizon. And though I feel some momentum in writing, I also feel the pressure of time. So, is there a part that I love about coming to writing later in life? I guess I just love that I came to it at all.

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Juxtapositions at Hedgebrook

By Hedgebrook Guest

Because I’m a fine-arts photographer as well as a poet, I frequently get asked if my photography somehow illustrates my poems. Do the images and the words come from the same place? For years now, I have known my “photographic” and “poetic” minds to run parallel and close, related but different in a way I can’t quite articulate. My latest chapbook, “Abraham’s Voices,” was my first attempt at marrying the two impulses–but the kudos go to my wonderful editor, friend, and fellow Hedgebrook alumna Lana Ayers, who saw the way for some scant pages of poetry to become a chapbook with the addition of photographs. Still, people tell me how “poetic” my photographs are, and how strikingly visual most of my poetry. Surely there is some connection?

As a photographer who persists in shooting film (and old-fashioned medium-format film at that), I have been dragged to the digital age grudgingly. It was through the film-like images I could get with my smartphone that I came around to digital photography. I now carry my cell phone at all times, not as a communications device but as an ubiquitous camera. So I had it with me every second at Hedgebrook this past October. As I walked through the grounds I took pictures of the trees, the mosses, wheelbarrows by the outbuildings. I took photos of the beach at Double Bluff, the white fences and the changing colors of the neighboring farms’ deciduous trees. I have lived 5 miles away from Hedgebrook for almost 20 years, but that didn’t stop me from photographing everything anew.   Read more

A Footbridge from Cedar Cottage

By Hedgebrook Guest

The truth is, I resisted writing this blog. Not because I don’t love Hedgebrook — in fact I do, with every bone in my body. Not because the experience isn’t transformative — I cherish it as life-changing. Not because I don’t carry the feeling of writing in Cedar cottage with me— it’s in the blood pumping from my heart, braided into my double-helix, the DNA of who I am becoming.

Lying on a couch made of nine cows, home sick under a blue blanket, at high noon I realized I’ve resisted this. I can feign shock and pretend I don’t know why. I can make excuses about being swamped with preparing to go abroad, long hours selling fruits at the farmers market, the strain of reading statutes, the stress of moving across the country. But we are all too smart for that.   Read more

Five Questions for Julie O’Brien

By Hedgebrook Staff

If you’ve ever called the Whidbey retreat or sent an email asking about one of our programs, you’ve probably talked to our Program Associate, Julie O’Brien. Julie started working at the retreat this year, making sure our programs run smoothly, orienting writers, and baking vegan cookies in the Farmhouse kitchen.

We recently sat down with Julie to ask her a few questions.

 

1) You’ve been working at the Whidbey retreat since January. What have been some of the most memorable moments so far?

So many!!! Here are just a few:

• Playwrights’ Festival – where magic unfolds daily. Seeing works in their infancy change, grow, rebirth. Scripts flying around, pages tossed, new pieces penciled in. Edits on the fly as readers try out the words and authors hear them out loud for the first time.   Read more

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