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By Tamiko Beyer

With Whom Do You Believe Your Lot Is Cast?

Adrienne Rich made the space for so many to come to poetry, to bring who we are – in all our queerness and rage and love – to poetry.

Like so many others, reading her poem “Diving into the Wreck” radically changed my relationship to poetry. It was in a college course on the literature of 1960s, and my former-hippy professor walked us line by line through the poem. As I read of the speaker’s descent into the ocean and transformation, I felt my body vibrate in resonance. “The sea is not a question of power.” The next day, I checked out all of her books of poetry from the library. Her words gave me the courage to enter the realm of poetry in a way that no other poet I had encountered previously had.

In “The Spirit of Place,” she asks twice: with whom do you believe your lot is cast? As a young poet seeking to make sense of my own position as a mixed race queer person, I appreciated her willingness to interrogate herself and others, particularly her willingness struggle with race. Taking her cue, I sought to answer that question again and again: with whom do you believe your lot is cast? I came to understand the power structures of society and saw how I was complicit in, as well as harmed by, those structures. I also learned that to take a stand is to take sides.

Rich made space to call myself poet, to call myself feminist, to write what pulsed deepest in me, what was most valuable and vulnerable. She made woman steelstrong and opened the book of myths to record our own, resounding names.   Read more

By Jennifer Chen

Eve Ensler and Dael Orlandersmith at Berkeley Rep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After another amazing Hedgebrook alumnae event (Dael Orlandersmith! Eve Ensler!), it was clear to me that Hedgebrook is a lifeline for women writers, specifically me.

When I applied to Hedgebrook back in 2007, I was at a crossroads in my writing career. My play had been rejected by every theater that I had sent it to and a YA novel I was working on also got rejected for publication. At the time, I contemplated quitting writing as nuts as that sounds.

But then I got into Hedgebrook and those two weeks were my lifesaver. I fell in love with writing again. I read like I’ve never read before. I met inspiring women. I was taken care of and my cottage was a safe space.   Read more

By Joanne Fedler

After the giddy joy of publication…. It’s back to the page.

Books are like elephants – they take two years to gestate. Thankfully, when a book comes out, there’s no physical expulsion of anything resembling a small pachyderm from any part of my body, but I assure you, there’s pain involved.

First there’s the agony of exposure – what’s been swirling in my heart and on the page on my computer screen is now publicly visible – and now fair game for reviews, both kind and unkind, generally by people who have never written books themselves. And despite my undeniable exhibitionist tendencies, I really do have moments of internal terror that what I’ve written, rewritten and rewritten (about 5000 times or so) is such crap I have no right to inflict on any poor reader.   Read more

By Ann Hedreen

Get Your Book in Bookstores: Publication Considerations, a Hedgebrook brown bag event that took place at Richard Hugo House on May 19, 2012

When the gift of a Hedgebrook residency changed my life in 2008, I had no idea that it was just the beginning of a long relationship. As Gloria Steinem put it so perfectly, Hedgebrook is indeed an advance, not a retreat. First, we move forward in our writing lives by spending a precious week or two or ten in a cottage, doing the work. But then, like a good mother, Hedgebrook keeps nudging us on.

Just when we’re gasping for a little encouragement, just when we’re tempted to retreat from our writing selves, a reading or a workshop or a brown-bag lunch comes along. For me, the much-needed nudge was “Get Your Book in Bookstores: Publication Considerations,” the May 19 seminar at Richard Hugo House, organized by the Hedgebrook Alumnae Leadership Council/Pacific Northwest and featuring publicity and marketing specialist Alice Acheson and alumna Nan Macy, former events coordinator at Bellingham’s Village Books.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Staff

A Love Letter to Ellen McLaughlin

First, you have to understand that last weekend I got to play bocce ball with Ellen McLaughlin. And that our team won. It was an informal gathering for the annual Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, of which she is a two-time alum. I was completely theatre geeking out. I surreptitiously snuck away to my iPhone at one point during the game to text a friend from college “OMG, I am playing bocce ball with the original Angel from Angels in America!”

And then she blessed my iPhone.

Ok, she didn’t exactly bless it, but she spilled a little bit of red wine on it. I took it as a sign that the theatre gods and goddesses were particularly pleased with me.   Read more

By Elaine Elinson

The Word from the Publishers

I don’t know about you, but I am always heartened by reading rejection letters from publishers to famous authors.

I wonder how Gertrude Stein felt when she got a letter in 1912 from Arthur C. Fifield of London, spoofing her: “Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.”  There’s a note from Alfred Knopf calling Ursula LeGuin’s prose “dry and airless, unreadable.” And stinging letters of rejection to Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and even Isaac Bashevis Singer who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Read more

By Kim Todd

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Write)

Heading into the Hedgebrook dining room, I stopped to give a poet a hug. She pulled back with raised eyebrows, having felt what hid under that chunky sweater, knit by my mother-in-law: I was five months pregnant with twins. Later, as we sat down to bowls of pumpkin ginger soup, and the warmth and vitamins flooded in, I sensed their tiny presence more clearly than I had so far. “More of this,” my body, their bodies, demanded. I took another spoonful.

As an expectant mother, you have no end of resources telling you how to gestate, What to Expect When You’re Expecting being the most famous. Advice floods in from relatives and well-meaning strangers. An embarrassed man offers you a seat on the bus, a friend buys gallons of milk in preparation for your overnight stay. The body also lets you know what it needs, a quiet companion become suddenly bossy, rebelling if you are not eating enough food or the right kind or not getting enough rest or too much.   Read more

By Nan Macy

Stepping Outside Your Genre

At Hedgebrook’s Writing Salon last Saturday, one woman who’s writing a book spoke up at lunch and said she’d been so focusing her attention and energy on tasks to complete her book that she’d sort of developed blinders (my phrase, not hers).  Her experience resonated for me as I’ve done the same in the last year.  She said that when asked in her morning workshop to do an exercise outside her genre/field/topic, she had this internal momentary response of “wait, I’m monogamous to my work.  I don’t date outside of it.”  Once she realized the limits of this closed creativity door, she could free herself to open it and walk through.   Read more

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