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Writer Dana Stabenow Launches Campaign to Build Storyknife Retreat in Homer

First Phase of Campaign Aims to Raise $1 Million to Develop Alaska Retreat for Women Writers

 

HOMER, ALASKA (April 11, 2013) – Prolific author of the Kate Shugak series of mystery novels and Homer resident Dana Stabenow announced today the launch of her campaign to raise $1 million to build Alaska’s only retreat for female writers, Storyknife Writers Retreat.  Storyknife will be only the second residency of its kind in the world.

To kick off the campaign Stabenow is launching a crowd-sourced funding round on Storyknife’s website, www.storyknife.org, and on her fan sites.   The organization is accepting donations of all denominations but a list of specific funding levels and benefits is also available on the site.  

The $1 million fundraising campaign is the first phase in a much larger effort to raise a total of $21 million to cover the costs of developing the property and ensuring its continuing legacy through a $20 million endowment.

THE INSPIRATION

The first thing that Stabenow’s writing ever earned her was not the sale of an article or a book.  It was a residency at the Hedgebrook Farm retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island, Washington in Puget Sound.

The author calls her time at Hedgebrook the seminal moment of her writing career. “It was the first time anyone ever acted like writing was a real job,” she says. Stabenow’s vision for Storyknife is to pass that gift on to a new generation of female writers.

“So far as we can discover,” Stabenow says, “Hedgebrook Farm is the only writers retreat for women in existence.”  Storyknife will double the amount of residencies available for women writers worldwide, and give women writers a unique space and time to hone their craft.

The Retreat takes its name from the English translation for the Yupik word yaaruin or “storyknife.”  Traditionally, Yupik girls would use yaaruin made from wood, bone, antler or ivory, to carve stories in snow and in riverbanks to amuse and instruct their younger siblings.

Dana says, “I came across mention of storyknives in one of the early explorer diaries and I couldn’t rest until I knew more.  As a traditional Alaska Native vehicle for storytelling, it is the perfect metaphor for what we hope to accomplish at Storyknife. I’m hoping we get a lot of Alaska Native women writers applying for residencies at Storyknife, too.”

THE RESIDENCY

Writers will be admitted to the residency after a rigorous application process, including statements of need and samples of work.  Upon successful admission, writers will come to Storyknife for two-to-eight-week residencies to focus on their diverse projects in uninterrupted peace, an atmosphere made possible by the Storyknife endowment.  “Following in the tradition set by Hedgebrook,” Dana says, “Storyknife residents will not be allowed to wash so much as a teacup. Their job here is to write.”

With the exception of travel to and from Anchorage, all expenses for writers in residence will be covered, including a specially curated Alaskan adventure of each writer’s choosing.  Examples of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences include halibut fishing, ocean kayaking, bear viewing, and flight-seeing.

THE RETREAT

Located just outside Homer, the Storyknife Writers Retreat will boast six private cabins and a main house dotted around a six-acre property commanding 180-degree views of lower Cook Inlet.

Sustainability and supporting local economies will be an ongoing focus for the Retreat.  Meals will feature produce from the property’s own garden, with locally supplied moose and salmon as other culinary mainstays.

DANA STABENOW

Born in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1952, Stabenow is one of Alaska’s most prolific living authors.  Stabenow has written 29 novels, numerous short stories, several anthologies, and contributed the Alaska Traveler column to Alaska magazine for five years.

Throughout her career she has amassed critical, public and civic acclaim, most notably the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for A Cold Day for Murder in 1993 and being named Alaska’s Artist of the Year in the 2007 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. She won a 2012 Nero Award for literary excellence in the mystery genre for Though Not Dead.

 

About Storyknife Writers Retreat

Storyknife Writers Retreat is a non-profit organization with the mandate to build and operate a retreat and residency program in Homer, Alaska for aspiring female writers.  Its 501(c)(3) application is pending.  Founded by author Dana Stabenow, Storyknife will double the residencies available exclusively to women in the literary arts, from six cabins (Hedgebrook Writers Retreat) to twelve (Storyknife).  The organization is managed by a board of directors and is funded through the support of donors.  To make donations or learn more, visit www.storyknife.org.

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