Autumn at Storyknife and Applications Open

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Only one month of residencies remains for the 2021 Storyknife Writers Retreat season. One more month this year for women writers to hunker down in their cabins, watch autumn winds ripple the dry grass in the meadow, and write their hearts out. One more month this year for them to gather in Eva’s House to talk over amazing dinners prepared by Maura, compare notes on the work they completed for the day, perhaps sit around the living room and enjoy tea and each other’s company. One more month this year for women to devote themselves to their writing dreams and aspirations.

Thank goodness for 2022! Women writers have until September 30th, midnight Alaska time, to submit their application to be one of the women writers in residence next year. It has been so amazing to watch this year’s writers finish their book proposals, or write 5,000 words a day, or put the finishing touches on their poetry collections. It is not an exaggeration to tell you that since June 1st, Storyknife has been fairly humming with creative energy. That enthusiasm and inspiration is contagious!

If you are one of the many individuals who has donated to support Storyknife, you made this happen. Your generosity has directly supported women writers having the time and space to devote to their writing. Thank you. Your gift has blossomed this summer and will grow for many more years.

take care and stay safe,
Erin

Opportunity and food for thought

In 2022, Storyknife will have writers in residence from May through October. It hardly seems possible that it’s right around the corner, but it is and, in fact, we’re accepting applications for next year starting on August 1st through September 30th. All of the details of how to apply and what you’ll need are on Storyknife’s website at https://storyknife.org/how-to-apply/.

Meanwhile, I’ll give you a little food for thought. One of the aims of Storyknife is tell women writers from the moment they cross the threshold of Eva’s House that they and their writing are worth the care that has been taken for them. We show it in the art made by local women artists and potters. We show it in the beautiful quilts on the wall made by local women quilters and in the snuggly blankets on the bed. And we show it in the food that is prepared for them.

Here are a few pictures of the amazing food that Maura has prepared over the last two months to nourish the writers.

Roasted salmon with asparagus
Beetroot falafel with hummus
Lunch tableau by July writer in residence Kersten

At Storyknife, we believe that every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revising the official version.

take care and stay safe,
Erin
Executive Director of Storyknife

What’s going on at Storyknife in June!

 So far, the month has been gloriously full of women writing, amazing food, and budding community. June has pulled her usual weather shenanigans: brilliant sun, wind, sudden downpours, and yesterday, fog.

Cabins in Fog

It is difficult for me to explain to you how much it means to actually be fulfilling the mission of Storyknife. What was the stuff of dreams is now a reality, not just for me and Maura, Storyknife’s chef, but for Dana and the board, AND also the women writers in residence. In the words of one of the writers, “For the first time in a long while, I feel deeply relaxed, inspired by the incredible nature, enriched by the wonderful company of the other artists, nourished by the amazing food and extremely cozy and comfortable cabins… there couldn’t possibly be a better environment for opening up the deep channels necessary for writing. From the bottom my heart, thank you. This is such an incredible gift to be here.”

At the beginning of August, we’ll be opening up the application period for 2022. But there are still nine more days this month during which you can donate toward our $25,000 June Challenge and have your donation DOUBLED. You can give a gift to women writers; you can give them the time and space they need to truly sink into their writing and devote their whole selves to it. You can put us over the top for the Challenge Grant.

Please join our community of supporters. And to all the women writers, we’re looking forward to hosting writers from April through October next year, so please apply!

As always, a donation in any amount helps support Storyknife’s mission. Donations can be made via our secure online server or by checks sent to Storyknife, PO Box 75, Homer, Alaska 99603. All donations are tax deductible, and you will receive a tax receipt for your records.

take care and stay safe,
Erin
Executive Director of Storyknife

June’s writers call these two Fred Eye and Ginger. Wonder what the July writers will call them.

All signs point to spring!

Welcome to springtime at Storyknife. Wait, back that up, there’s still plenty of snow, ice, and chill winds. But there is definitely a lot of more light and that sun is pretty dang powerful. Preparations for the June launch of Storyknife are underway. Sure, I can’t even see the planters on the deck and in the front of Eva’s House (still under a swale of snow), but I’m ordering salad greens and flower seeds.

One of the things that I cherish about Storyknife is how much love and attention is put into each part of the experience. Maura plans menus. I plan flowers and gardening and look to dietary needs and allergies and scheduling. On the walls, art by Alaskan women artists that complements each cabin and Eva’s House. Custom quilts, beautiful handmade pottery by Homer women potters…. and now Storyknife’s new sign.

We want every woman who spends time at Storyknife to know that she and her work are valued, and we want her to feel that from the first time she comes up the drive. So, we commissioned a sign from Dave and Dan Gerard. I talked with them about what we wanted in terms of structure, but those guys have been such an integral part of building Storyknife from the very beginning (remember the AMAZING dining table they made?) that they pretty much came up with the design on their own. And now it’s a reality.

Danny and Dave Gerard with the new sign and post joined by Founder, Dana Stabenow

It really means something to us that our local community artisans and supporters are behind Storyknife’s mission to give women writers the time and space to devote to their craft. And we are so looking forward to June when we can show the inaugural group that we care deeply about them and their writing.

June will be here before we know it. Keep watching for our open application period for 2022 that will open in the summer.

take care and stay safe,
Erin
Executive Director of Storyknife

Little closer view of the sign with Dave helping showcase!

February at Storyknife

The day has been bright and very cold. At Storyknife, I shoveled, turned on the hot water, flushed toilets, and checked each cabin and Eva’s House. A couple sets of moose tracks have been punched into the crusted-over snow in front of Eva’s House and heading down the path that loops to the little pond. Evidence of other little critters abounds, ermine tracks and vole tracks, and ever-present squirrel tracks. Flocks of pine siskins move from one group of spruce trees to another. I shoveled to the deep calls of a couple ravens that were flickering in and out of the nearby valley.

And in each cabin, I warmed my hands and feet in front of the stove. Storyknife is heated with natural gas, and the little stoves make the cabins toasty and cozy.

In the past month, I’ve been communicating with the women who had been scheduled to come to Storyknife last year, but who will be arriving starting in June this year. We’re taking all precautions and hoping that everyone will be able to be vaccinated before they travel, but we don’t want to put off residencies any longer.

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve talked with these women writers is that despite what the whole world seems to think, they’re not getting much writing done during the lock-downs. There are children to help homeschool and entertain, meals to be prepared, a thousand meetings on Zoom, and a general lack of the mental and physical space that helps writers concentrate. More than ever, they just long to focus on their own work, their incubating novels, their sketchy poems, their barely imagined screenplays and scattered essays.

And so we prepare to make Storyknife welcoming and their time here blissfully productive (though we suspect there might be some naps and time spent staring at the mountains).

June will be here before we know it. Keep watching for our open application period for 2022 that will open in the summer.

Stay safe and take care,
Erin

January’s News

Welcome to 2021 at Storyknife! We’re preparing to open for residencies in June as we watch the COVID-19 vaccine roll out into communities across the United States.

Dave Gerard in his workshop

To help welcome residents, we have commissioned local artist Dave Gerard to make a sign for Storyknife. In this picture, he is standing up a cardboard mockup of the sign that will be positioned by the drive as you enter Storyknife. And here below is a rough rough sketch of the design he’ll be making. It’s hard to get a good feel for it without knowing the materials or depth, but Dave and his brother Dan made our beautiful dining room table, so we know they “get” the Storyknife aesthetic.

Rough rough sketch

What else is happening this month? Behind the scenes, policies are being written, budgets formalized, residencies rescheduled, and long-term calendars being put together. It may look quiet (and super icy) from the outside, but at Storyknife, we’re using this time to create a stable foundation for the longevity of the organization. We’re planning on starting our 2022 residency season application period in the mid to late summer.

One of our most-cherished goals is that a woman writer would be able to say, “I went to a residency at Storyknife, and my whole life changed.” We want time at Storyknife to be transformational, and we’re putting everything we can in place to make sure that it is.

I’d like to take this moment as we enter a new year, to thank all of the 2020 donors whose generosity helps us keep the lights on, the driveway plowed, heat flowing, and so many other necessities. We are humbled by your continued support, and we promise that with your donation you are giving women writers a time and place to pursue their craft. We can’t wait to show you the results of your vision.

Looking toward 2021

Table set in front of a window with forests and sea.
The table is set for the community of Storyknife!

We’ll remember 2020, won’t we?

January and February were a fever of preparation at Storyknife. Furniture, art, linens, table-settings. Preparation to make sure that every writer knew immediately after stepping across the threshold of Eva’s House that she is respected and that her work is valuable.

Then, the world veered in a different direction. Storyknife chose to value the lives of our community members in the small town of Homer, as well as the lives of the 42 writers chosen for residencies, their families, and their communities. We postponed our first year of residencies.

As the world reaches the balance point, Winter Solstice just around the corner, at Storyknife we are planning for the light to return. We are contacting this year’s fellows and planning for residencies in 2021. Sure, there is no way to know exactly how the new year will proceed, but with a vaccine and care for each other, we believe that residencies will be possible.

Possible because of all of you, the community that creates Storyknife. We are grateful for every person who applies for a residency, donates no matter how much, gives handmade pottery or books for Dana’s Library, offers encouragement and stories of your own mentors and writing life, and more. Even though we have had to be “separate together” this year, next year, we hope to be able to share stories of the writers who cross the threshold of Storyknife and are enveloped by the generosity of our community.

Thank you.

May this holiday season be filled with light and grace for you and yours.

take care and stay safe,
Erin and Dana

PS. We are very close to meeting our 2020 fundraising goal. Please support Storyknife in your year-end giving. To the many people who have already given, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

A closer look at those incredible place settings.

Gathering Stories

2020, a whirlwind that just won’t stop. In keeping others safe, we’ve had to sacrifice rambling dinner conversations, public readings, writing workshops, and most importantly being close, gathering, hugs. It’s a lot to carry, and I hope that you all know that you are part of a community here at Storyknife.

Storyknife lost an advisory committee member, the world lost an amazing writer, and I, and so many others, lost a good friend last week. Sherry Simpson passed away unexpectedly, and the outpouring on social media and over phone lines showed how much one person can mean to so many. Sherry was an incredible teacher, writer, and friend. There will never be another like her, and here at Storyknife, we will miss how her advice was always to do what was kindest and most supportive for women writers.

A loss like this emphasizes our interconnectedness as people and writers. We are a community of voices when it can feel like all the world is trying to tell us that we are alone. In November, in order to celebrate this interconnection I’m gathering together stories to share with you through newsletters and social media. There’s still time to send one in…

Will you send me one lovely paragraph that:

  • recommends a really good book by a woman writer, or
  • tells us about a woman writer that has made a difference in your writing or reading life, or
  • contains an inspiring quote by a woman writer, or
  • tells us about what your writing means to you.

If you’re a writer, include your website or social media account details.
Send it to ehollowell@storyknife.org.

We are so grateful to all of you for being part of the Storyknife community. Truly, remember that your story matters, your writing matters, your voice matters.

(And while we’re on that subject, YOUR VOTE MATTERS. Make sure you get to the polls either through the mail or in person.)

Be safe, be well, take care of yourselves,
Erin
Storyknife Executive Director

Share Your Story

A cup of tea and a book on an autumn picnic table with the heading "What's Your Story?"

Here we are, almost half-way through October. At Storyknife, that means first frost and lots of curious moose. 2020 hasn’t been the year any of us thought it would be. I thought that I’d be telling you of about all of the amazing writers who have been sitting at the desk in the Peggy Cabin or the Carol Cabin. The writers out by the pond watching the sandhill cranes and writing in their notebooks. The incredible meals at that beautiful dining room table, filled with talk of storylines and poems and new scripts.

That hasn’t happened. Yet. It will. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you in the loop.

Meanwhile, I figure that if you are reading this website, you are either a writer interested in a writing residency or you’re the kind of person who reads a lot and wants to support women writers. So, I have a favor.

As the light slips away and the cold buckles in, I want to gather together stories to share with you, through newsletters and social media. Will you send me one lovely paragraph that:

  • recommends a really good book by a woman writer, or
  • tells us about a woman writer that has made a difference in your writing or reading life, or
  • contains an inspiring quote by a woman writer, or
  • tells us about what your writing means to you.

 If you’re a writer, include your website or social media account details.

During November, I’ll share some of what that you’ve sent. We’ll gather together around our own virtual campfire and talk about writing and reading.

So, what’s your story?

Send it to ehollowell@storyknife.org.

Take good care of yourselves. Your stories are important. You are important.

Be safe,
Erin

Storyknife Construction 2019

Reflecting on Storyknife’s construction and how far we’ve come.

Thank you, Scott and Kelsey Gere for making this amazing video!

Highlight reel of 2019 Construction