Archive for the ‘Alum Experiences’ Category

Hedgebrook Taught Us These Things

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Upstairs my desk faces a broad window that looks out over the Oregon coast just north of Tillamook, where two silhouettes are strolling the wet beach that looks like a mirror and a wag-tailed dog is running around them, into the foaming surf and back again. Six of us Hedgebrook alums have created our own little writing retreat in the Oregon Writers’ Colony Colonyhouse in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We sleep each night with the steady low ocean roar as backdrop to our dreams. (more…)

Happy Birthday, Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Happy Birthday, Gloria Steinem. If you are what eighty looks like, then there is hope in this world. And it is high time I thanked you for a few things.

First: Six years ago, for two weeks of my life, you gave me courage to get out of bed. It was April 2008. A cold April: frost every day, even a few snow flurries. Each morning, I huddled under the covers in the loft of Owl Cottage, reading your brilliant book of essays, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. (more…)

How Hedgebrook Sheltered Me from the Cossacks

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

I brought my grandmother with me to my last residency at Hedgebrook.  Together we settled into Oak Cottage, lit the fire, put the water on for tea.

Over the next two weeks, with her photo as my screensaver, I pored through her diaries, lovingly handwritten in pencil, in Yiddish, on yellowing paper held together by fraying and chipped brown cardboard covers.

In the comfort of the cottage, I tried to shape a story from her stories.  Should it be about her working until midnight in a Chicago garment factory, wishing she were a poet?  Should it be about a lost love, the one who married another but still slid his hand on her thigh at political meetings?  Should I start with me reading the diaries or her harrowing tale of having to leave Russia after the pogroms terrorized Jews in her shtetl and all around her. (more…)

Playwriting in the Pacific NW

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

My Background:

I came to the Pacific Northwest in 2007, specifically to Portland, Oregon. We moved here because my husband got a job at Reed College, but the truth was I was ready for a change from the itinerant life I’d been living. From 1994-2007 my husband and I, and then our kids, lived in NYC; Berlin, Germany; San Diego, CA; and Durham, NC for various academic and professional gigs. In each of those places what I most wished for was an artistic home–a place where I could live and work, get what I needed to be supported as an artist, and be inspired by that place.

As this is a conference for writers of all genres and since playwrights fit into the strangest category of writers–neither fish nor fowl, not really fully embraced by the literary world nor the theatrical one, I will include here a bit of information about being a playwright in the United States. (more…)

Nomads, Sentinels and Persephone

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I don’t know anyone, outside of monks and Charles Manson who spends as much time alone as I do.  I’m sure they exist but they’re not within [my] earshot or sightline.  Even the homeless are out there meeting new people everyday.

I nearly always feel as though I am working and creating in a vacuum. This I’ve heard and read ad nauseum goes with the territory of writing and the initial tremors of any creative process. That moment between vacant and percolating.  Between idea and form. How to be at peace in those moments when it is just you and your creating; whether sitting with a character who just barged into your kitchen catching you staring at a blank page, or the countless hours that elapse as you draw the same set of lips and fists over and over and once again because it is not quite right, yet.  Because it has not captured precisely the anguish, rage, joy, defeat, triumph, helplessness, the all and all at onceness that has your protagonist heaving and punching at the air.  (more…)