The construction realized a dream several years in the making: In 2012, Stabenow decided to dedicate six of the ten acres she owns to the project of fostering women’s writing by building a new retreat set against the dramatic backdrop of the Aleutian mountain range’s snowcapped volcanoes. This April her vision comes to fruition as the Storyknife Writers Retreat opens its doors to its first group of resident writers.
Situated just north of Homer’s Kachemak Bay and overlooking the arctic blues of Cook Inlet, the Storyknife Writers Retreat will provide what executive director Erin Hollowell calls “the big vista mental space” for forty-two established and emerging women writers a year. Six woman-identified or nonbinary writers at a time will be served evening meals at the main house and will lunch, work, and sleep in sponsored cabins named Carol, Betty, Diana, Evangeline, Katie, and Peggy. Their sole duty is to write during a two- or four-week fully-funded stay. The first group of residents in the new space—Stabenow piloted Storyknife with earlier retreats in a guest cabin— have already been selected; applications for the 2021 season will open later this year.
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Girmay Edits BOA Selections
In October 2020, BOA Editions, an indie press located in Rochester, New York, named poet Aracelis Girmay the first editor-at-large of its Blessing the Boats Selections, a line of poetry books written by women of color.
What We Ought to Do: THE SONG OF IMBOLO MBUE
In her second novel, How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue uses the chorus of voices in a small African village fighting for justice in the shadow of an American oil company to sing in celebration of community, connection, and enduring hope.
Pandemic Pen Pals
Nupur Chaudhury, a public health strategist living in New York City, grew up in the nineties sending letters through the mail. She received weekly aerograms from relatives in India; she corresponded with a pen pal in Texas; her father even took her to admire the post office’s new stamps every month. But as she grew older, Chaudhury says, “E-mail became more popular, and I really put that writing part of me to the side”—that is, until she came across the pen pal exchange Penpalooza on Twitter in August 2020.
Neither muscle nor mouth
Neither muscle nor mouth / devoted to one way of speaking. Every language // I borrow from somewhere else,” writes Threa Almontaser in The Wild Fox of Yemen (Graywolf Press, April 2021), winner of the Walt Whitman Award. In her debut Almontaser summons the language of her ancestors and family members, poets both contemporary and historical, experimental rock bands and rappers, and many more, to fashion an idiom that is both rebellious and reverent. Dedicated to the people of Yemen, the book offers a portrait of a country and its history and future. “Yemen has such an ancient and rich history, but with its current collapse, search engines show only the sad photos of starving kids,” says Almontaser. “I wanted to portray not only the war, but the beauty of Arabia Felix, of what it could still return to being.”
PANDEMIC WRITING GROUP
Finding Creativity, Community, and Play
New Ways of Surviving
WRITING THROUGH A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
Revising the Dream
PUBLISHING A DEBUT NOVEL IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
IN HER THIRD BOOK, THE ESSAY COLLECTION GIRLHOOD, PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY IN MARCH, MELISSA FEBOS TRANSFORMS SCARS INTO MEDITATIONS ON CULTURE AND PSYCHOLOGY.
Writers Confront Climate Crisis
Author and activist Toni Cade Bambara has said the role of the artist is “to make revolution irresistible.” So when Jenny Offill, author of the novels Dept. of Speculation (Knopf, 2014) and Weather (Knopf, 2020), heard about the work of Writers Rebel—the writers’ arm of Extinction Rebellion, an international activist group that works against climate change—she felt compelled to get involved.
A Room of (Almost) My Own
FINDING SPACE, AND PERMISSION, TO WRITE