Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers
Soapstone provides grants to support ad hoc events and short-term study groups that introduce or offer the opportunity to delve into the work of women writers. All events and study groups are open to the public. Events are free of charge; there is a small fee for study groups, with scholarships available.
Small Grants to Support Events and Study Groups
The application process is simple and the time between applying and notification short.
Upcoming study groups:
The fee for either one is $60; scholarships are available. The group is limited to 15. To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a check made out to Soapstone, 622 SE 29th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214.
Reading Leslie Marmon Silko
Led by Janice Gould
The weekend of November 4-6
We’ll focus on Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony, supplemented by her book of essays, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit. Contemporary Native American written literature is often beholden to tribal oral traditions. Silko’s masterpiece, Ceremony, is a case in point. Drawing on stories and concepts from both Pueblo and Navajo sources, and using the modernist device of the novel, Silko crafts a complex tale about the power and endurance of ceremony. We will explore this novel’s themes and structure. Is Ceremony a novel about identity? Is it an anti-war novel? Is it an ecological argument, a plea for the environment? Is Ceremony still a relevant piece of fiction? Silko’s first book of essays, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit provides us with some details about Silko’s life and helps us understand some of her thoughts as a writer, and as a mixed-blood woman of Native American (Laguna Pueblo) descent.
Friday, November 4, from 6:30 to 9:30
Saturday, November 5 from 10 to 3
Sunday, November 6, from 2:30 to 6:30
Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark.
Janice Gould is a poet and writer of Native American (Koyoonk'auwi) descent: “Silko was one of the first Native American authors I read, after reading N. Scott Momaday’s Pulitizer Prize-winning novel, House Made of Dawn. Silko’s short stories were familiar and approachable, contemporaneous. With humor and pathos, she draws a picture of Native American village life—of extended families, day-to-day work and activities, the importance of the natural world, and the presence of the oral tradition—stories and gossip, songs and prayers. While I grew up in California and not in New Mexico, I could still appreciate Silko’s sense of connection to place, and especially to the arid, rural landscape of her homeland. Silko’s novel Ceremony spoke to me powerfully; I read it while my mother was dying of cancer. It seemed to express the feelings of anomie, loss, and disorientation I felt during that time as I cared for my mother, and yet the message of love and connection permeated the novel too, and gave me solace. For this, and for other reasons, I have always loved this work.”
Reading Jane Austen (This is full with a short waiting list.)
Led by Annie Lighthart
Perhaps we shouldn’t find Jane Austen’s novels as fascinating as we do: people from another era sit quietly and talk. They politely drink tea. Characters take uneventful walks to neighboring towns. Yet the tensions, passions, and histories in that world of small gestures make the novels of Austen complex, astute, and, in a word, irresistible. This study group will look at four of Austen’s enduring novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion. We’ll consider the questions Austen’s work raises, especially her recurring and timely inquiry into whether the heart and mind stand a chance in a world dominated by status and money.
We’ll meet four Saturdays from 10:00 to 1:00: September 10th, October 8th, November 12th, and December 10th. Participants are asked to read one novel per session and join in a relaxed and friendly discussion. Since Austen’s characters valued good conversation over tea or a meal, we will too: please feel free to bring your lunch or pick up a cup of tea at the TaborSpace café.
Whether you are new to Austen’s work or a long-time fan, a reader looking to immerse herself in another world or a writer hoping to gain new insights from a past master, this study group welcomes you.
TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont.
Annie Lighthart is a writer, teacher, and the author of the poetry collection Iron String. Her work has been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye to be placed in Ireland’s Galway University Hospitals as part of their Poems for Patience project. She has taught at Boston College, with Portland’s Mountain Writers, and with community groups of all ages.
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For a complete list of grants awarded, please click here to see or download a PDF.