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 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 Claudia Rankine, a Study Group led by Sara Guest
January 21 / February 4 & 18 / March 4
Four Saturday mornings, 10 to 1
Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark
Rankine’s voice is powerful, singular, and nuanced. When we look back at this time in the American history of literature and discourse, there's strong evidence that Rankine's work will be included in the reckoning. Her work has already received much recognition, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the Forward Prize in England; in September she received a MacArthur “Genius” grant. This study group will look closely at her two most recent poetry collections, Citizen: An American Lyric and Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
There are many things to consider about these collections: their formal structures, their use of art as interstitial context and engagement, their definition of themselves as "American Lyric" and what this means in the context of each of those words independently as well as taken together, their publication as poetry when much of the material in them does not conform to traditional poetic rules or look/sound like other contemporary poetry, and the themes of these books--which are similar to each other, but also have distinct and interesting differences.
The study group would be a wonderful way to engage with contemporary texts that are relevant to our current conversations as Americans, especially those discussions that consider race and representation.
Sara Guest is a poet, essayist, facilitator, literary lecturer and careful reader. She has worked as a literature editor for Encyclopaedia Britannica and a producer for Harpo Studios and in various capacities as an editor or program, project or creative manager. She leads reading seminars with Literary Arts and the Portland Underground Graduate School and writing workshops with Write Around Portland.
Reading Leslie Marmon Silko
Led by Janice Gould
This study group is full; waiting list only.
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.”
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