And behind the curtain….

ladderThe dust is settling after the selection process for our first resident. Behind the scenes, the folks at Storyknife are starting to build the foundation of documents, timelines, and budgets that will allow us to launch a fully-formed fundraising campaign to secure the money to build the entire residency.

In order to do this, we’ve asked some dynamic  women to be part of the Storyknife Advisory Council. These advisers will help us by answering questions that arise as we move forward. They are a diverse and incredible group, and we are so proud that they’ve agreed to help us. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring “Get to Know the Advisory Council” spots on the blog.

The second one will launch tomorrow. The first one featured Kathleen Alcalá, and tomorrow’s will feature Ernestine Hayes.

Meanwhile, it has become summer here on Kachemak Bay. Wild roses and lupine are blooming, gardens are starting to look promising, and we’ve all got sun in our eyes and dirt under our fingernails.

Introducing the first Storyknife Advisory Council:
Kathleen Alcalá
Debby Dahl Edwardson
Charlotte Fox
Katherine Gottlieb
Ernestine Hayes
Arlitia Jones
Janie Leask
Nancy Lord
Paula Martin
Hilary Morgan
Katrina Pearson
Peggy Shumaker
Sherry Simpson
Carol Swartz

Our First Storyknife Fellow

It was harder than we thought it would be. So many fine pieces of writing to consider. Over and over, we wished that we could offer more than one residency. We made ourselves a promise to get all six cabins built as quickly as possible so that we could provide more opportunities for women to explore their own voices, write novels and poems and essays.

rogers_kim_hiresThis September, Kim Steutermann Rogers will be in residence as the first Storyknife Fellow. She moved to Hawaii with her husband, two dogs, and twelve boxes of belongings in 1999. “We’ll stay for one year,” she told her family and friends. That was 17 years ago. Now, Kim shadows scientists into rainforests, volcanic craters, and throughout the uninhabited atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to learn more about Hawaii’s endemic—and often endangered—flora and fauna. But, most days, she sits on her bum and attempts to churn out words appropriate to the science and place and people of it all—and tells herself she should exercise more. Kim holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Missouri School of Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is at work on a book about Mark Twain’s Hawaii and the psychological concept of place attachment. You can read clips of her work and her blog at www.kimsrogers.com.

We just couldn’t be more excited to host Kim while she explores her own writing to her heart’s content this September at Storyknife Writers Retreat, just outside Homer, Alaska.

Please do keep checking this blog for more information about the incredible members of our Advisory Council and how you can help Storyknife soar as a full-fledged writers’ residency for women. We’ll have exciting news unfolding all throughout the summer!

Meet Kathleen Alcalá

The Amazing Erin (I think that’s actually her real name) is even as we speak putting together a Council of Advisors for Storyknife. Allow me to introduce you to one of them.

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This is Kathleen Alcalá. She was a co-writer in residence when I was at Hedgebrook the first year it was open (we watched them raise the sixth cottage while we were there), and we have remained friends ever since. She teaches, and she writes magic realism with terrific titles (Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist is my favorite) and fiction as a product of a fascinating family history where she discovered Jewish ancestors fleeing the Inquisition had resettled in Mexico and gone underground so successfully that she grew up thinking they were Protestant.  She spoke about it on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

She learned that the cruel arm of the Spanish Inquisition reached Saltillo, her ancestral home in Northern Mexico. Her family arrived later, but she says this connection grounded her stew of heritage firmly into real history. Combining her Crypto-Jewish background with her also hidden native Opata ancestry gave Alcalá fodder for a rich trio of novels.

Kathleen was one of the first people I told about Storyknife, she was one of the writers to test drive the first cabin (the writers will have a hot plate because of her), and she was the first person I thought of when Erin sold me on the idea of the Council.

She also has a new book coming out in September.

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She lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington state and I can tell you she sets a fine table. This book is a result of a years-long investigation of where that food comes from.

In The Deepest Roots, Alcalá walks, wades, picks, pokes, digs, cooks, and cans, getting to know her neighbors on a much deeper level. Wanting to better understand how we once fed ourselves, and acknowledging that there may be a future in which we could need to do so again, she meets those who experienced the Japanese American internment during World War II, learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself.

 

Gratitude for the Leapers

When I was in my early thirties and getting ready to launch another cross-country move, a friend told me that I was a leaper. “Define that,” I challenged, to which he explained that leapers are the kind of folks who take a chance, put themselves out there for new experiences, explore the fringes of the world.

As of midnight last night there were 65 leapers who grabbed at the chance to be the first Storyknife Fellow for this September’s residency. Applicants range in experience and goals, state of residence and genres. There were even a few applicants from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and plenty from what Alaskans like to call the “Lower-48.” At least 21 states were represented. To each of you who leapt, I want to express my gratitude. I hope that the process of putting together the application was as edifying for you as it has been for me in past. That you learned something about yourself and your work as you considered what to send and how to answer the questions we posed.

Now begins the jurying process. There are five jurors who will be dividing up the work, and each application will be read by a minimum of three people. This process will take two weeks, after which we’ll be notifying applicants of the decisions.

Please know how grateful we are for your belief in Storyknife. We believe in it as well, in the truth that all women’s voices are valuable and that your writing is important to the world.

Preparing the Cabin

hangingOn May 12th, we mounted the sign on the Frederica cabin, readying for September’s resident. The cabin has been named after Frederica de Laguna, an ethnologist, anthropologist, archeologist, and writer. William W. Fitzburgh writes, “De Laguna, known to friends and colleagues throughout her life as ‘Freddy,’ spent the first two decades of her professional life on comparative work of circumpolar art, on several syntheses of North American archaeology, and on research involving Alaskan archaeology, followed by 50 years of ethnographic study of northern Northwest Coast cultures in southeast Alaska.”

Freddy was a vanguard for women in working in the field and studying in the classroom. Her first expedition to Alaska was in 1930 when she was a 24-years-old. After she received her PhD, but before she secured a permanent teaching or research position, Freddy wrote several books for general audiences. Fitzburgh writes, “While waiting for a position to open at Bryn Mawr and preparing her Cook Inlet and Eyak reports, Freddy produced three books for general readers, all laced with anthropological insight. The first, published in 1930 and aimed at young adults, was titled The Thousand March: Adventures of an American Boy with Garibaldi; the story was based on G. M. Trevelyan’s account of the Italian patriot. Two detective stories followed: The Arrow Points to Murder (1937) and Fog on the Mountain (1938). She had a gift for the perfect phrase and the well-chosen word, and these skills, honed early in her upbringing.”

closeupThroughout her whole life, Freddy worked hard to break barriers and in 1976 she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences as the first woman, with former classmate Margaret Mead.

Steve Ferzacca, for the Penn Museum, writes of de Laguna, “Her work in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet is considered definitive for an understanding of the archaeological record of southern Alaska (McClellan 1989). In 1949, she continued with her work among the cultures and peoples of southeastern Alaska, conducting research that combined the approaches of archaeology, history, and ethnography among the northern Tlingit communities of Yakutat, a village that lies in the shadow of Mount Saint Elias, and Angoon.  In 1996 Professor de Laguna returned to Yakutat to attend a gathering given in her honor by the Tlingit people among whom she had conducted research nearly fifty years earlier. Her invitation was sponsored by the Yakutat Camp of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, acting for the Yakutat tribe.”

Yakutat tribal elder Marie Abraham commented, “There are few people in her profession that have made such an impression with the people she wrote about. She became part of us. She became our Grandma. We love you. We thank you for all the gifts you have given us. You’ve given us the greatest gift that anybody could give a culture. You saved the songs. You gave them back to us.”

jobdoneWe’d like to thank Dave and Maddie Gerard for creating such a beautiful way to inaugurate our first cabin. Their incredibly detailed sign is a fitting tribute to Storyknife’s first cabin.

There are still two more days to apply for the first writing residency that will take place this September. You can apply at https://storyknifewritersretreat.submittable.com/submit until midnight Alaska time on May 15th. We hope to notify the chosen applicant by email by June 5.

Your Words Matter

Last year, I was fortunate enough to spend an entire month at a writer’s residency in Washington. For four solid weeks, I wrote, wandered, read, wrote some more, revised, slept, and woke up the next day to do it all again. In one month, I wrote an entire poetry chapbook. It was an incredibly nurturing experience.

A writing residency is transformative. It changes your relationship to your work. When you take away the daily distractions, the internet, the children/spouse/friends, suddenly you are left face-to-face with the work. Terrifying and blissful. After a few days of panic, naps, and staring woefully at the walls, something begins to happen. You begin to write, deeply and sustainedly. You begin to have faith in your own story as a writer.

The Storyknife Writers Retreat honors the importance of women’s voices. What you have to write and share with the world matters. It matters so much that here at Storyknife, we think you should have an entire month to devote to it.

The application period for the first residency ends on May 15th at midnight, Alaska time (application). Just imagine that you have a month in this sweet cabin to learn to trust your own voice, your own writing. We’re so excited to make it happen for someone.

take care,
Erin

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If you think that supporting women’s writing is important, please feel fee to donate using the yellow “Donate” button on this page. Thank you. Storyknife Writers Retreat is a registered 501(c)3 organization; all donations are tax deductible.

And so it begins!

cabinToday is the opening of the call for submissions for the very first official Storyknife Writers Residency which will take place during the month of September. On ten acres of view property just outside Homer, Alaska, Storyknife will be one of the very few residencies for women writers in the English-speaking world.  Eventually, the facility will include six private cabins, a main house, and a garden. Currently, one fully-equipped writers’ cabin has been built with a stunning view overlooking Cook Inlet, Mount Iliamma, Mount Douglas, and Mount Augustine.

Starting today, women writers over 21 years of age can apply for a September residency in the Storyknife cabin. This residency will can be 2-4 weeks, and for each week she is in residency, the inaugural Fellow will receive a $250 stipend to cover food and transportation costs. The inaugural fellow will need a vehicle and will be responsible for cooking most of her own meals. The residency is about eight miles from the town of Homer, Alaska.

Applications will be accepted until May 15 at Submittable. There is a $25 application fee. Jurying will be done by a committee of writers and is a blind process to ensure fairness.

Please feel free to email me at  if you have any questions about the residency or the submission process. I am so very very excited that we are on our way.

If you are not interested in applying for the residency, but are interested in supporting the building of the entire Storyknife Writers Residency and want to know more about what that looks like, read more about it here and donate using that big yellow button on the right side of the page.

We’re pretty excited about this. Hope you are as well!

Storyknife Fellow Residency Announced

The first official Storyknife Writers Residency will be awarded this spring for a residency during the month of September. On ten acres of view property just outside Homer, Alaska, Storyknife will be one of the very few residencies for women writers in the English-speaking world. Eventually, the facility will include six private cabins, a main house, and a garden. Currently, one fully-equipped writer’s cabin has been built with a stunning view overlooking Cook Inlet, Mount Iliamma, Mount Douglas, and Mount Augustine

Starting on April 15, women writers over 21 years of age will be able to apply for a September residency in the Storyknife cabin. This residency will can be 2-4 weeks, and for each week she is in residency, the inaugural fellow will receive a $250 stipend to cover food and transportation costs. Applications will be accepted starting on April 15 until May 15. The application will be open HERE on April 15.

The vision of award-winning novelist Dana Stabenow, Storyknife seeks to support women writers by providing uninterrupted time for development of their craft. In 1989, Stabenow was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, a writers retreat for women on Whidbey Island in Washington. The profound impact of that residency, and the fact that Hedgebrook receives many more applications that they have spots to host writers, has inspired her to develop such an opportunity for women writers on property outside of Homer, Alaska.

Storyknife Writers Retreat is a registered 501(c)3.

Introducing a new member of the Storyknife team!

Everyone, meet Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Storyknife’s new executive director! Poet by day, non-profit maven the rest of the time, she’s come on board to help get this party started. But first, get to know her a little.

I’m a poet all the way out at the end of the road that has been working on and off for Alaskan arts nonprofits for the last fifteen years. My poetry collection Pause, Traveler was published by Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, in 2013, and my new collection Every Atom is forthcoming from the same press in 2018. I was the Rona Jaffe Scholarship winner for poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2010 and a 2013 recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship and the Connie Boochever Award. I was lucky enough to be one of the inaugural recipients of the Alaska Literary Award in 2014. I’ve attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Willapa Bay AiR, and understand completely how important a writers’ residency is for fostering creative work and faith in your writing. I can’t wait to make the same magic happen for other writers.

Dana again–We’ll have a Big Reveal later this week which will showcase all the goodness Erin’s been up to. Stay tuned!

Floor Plans

Courtesy of Scott, Our Builder, see the floor plans for the main house and the cabins. Click on the images to enlarge.

Floor plans for the house, where the onsite manager/chef will live and where the writers will gather for dinner each evening.
Floor plans for the house, where the onsite manager/chef will live and where the writers will gather for dinner each evening.
Not quite an exact representation of what the house will look like furnished. But close.
Not quite an exact representation of what the house will look like furnished. But close. The dinner table is the most important piece of furniture here.
And the cabin. All the mod cons, plus a built-in counter top-style desk across the west wall, where all the great work will be done.
And the cabin. All the mod cons, plus a built-in counter top-style desk across the west wall, where all the great work will be done.
And again, a representation of the cabin furnished. This is where the writers will spend their days working. All they have to do is look up from their keyboards to see Cook Inlet and Iliamna and Redoubt. An inspirational view if ever there was one. Just ask me.
And again, a representation of the cabin furnished. This is where the writers will spend their days working. All they have to do is look up from their keyboards to see Cook Inlet and Iliamna and Redoubt. An inspirational view if ever there was one. Just ask me.