R.Murray, 2017
Confetti. R.Murray, 2017

I’m writing at a long desk in a cottage with an arched wooden door, a wrought iron lever for a latch, surrounded by cedar and 200-foot-tall Hemlock and Douglas fir trees. River rock surrounds a small wood stove marked by the delicate image of fishers with a net full of salmon. This nurturing space, where today the wind is shhhing in the trees, is not sufficient to quiet the anxiety I have about writing. It seems that there must have been an error that allowed me to be here at Hedgebrook, one of forty selected from many, many more. The large number of applicants actually adds weight to the feeling.

We gather for dinner in a farmhouse where the library is filled with previous residents’ work, among them my literary friends and heroes, Naseem Rakha, Evelyn C. White and Dorothy Allison. The conversations between us, journalists, an eminent feminist legal scholar, an Africana studies professor, novelists and performers are welcome and illuminating.

The theme has been Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of the intersectionality of gender and race; we’ve spoken about family and heritage. I know my grandparents’ names and stories, but I can’t tell you a personal memory relating to any of them. They had all passed by the time I was ten, of fever in Santa Domingo, of throat cancer in Denver.

The tree trunks here on Whidbey Island near Useless Bay have a hide of bright moss, and alders are covered with starbursts of lichen. In slash piles of downed branches, the orange alder is visible beneath off-white bark. I’ve heard coyotes, owls, geese, sea gulls and eagles since I’ve been here, but seen no mammals beyond my human sisters. After two weeks of writing and conversing, the second of my month-long stay, black tail deer graze nearby. I trust my words more, and I feel at home.

March 8, 2017Permalink

Island Institute in Sitka

cobalt totes

A year ago I was preparing for a month-long residency at the Island Institute. I watched humpback whales feed during my residency in Sitka AK, April, 2015, called to alert bears as I walked to my cabin on a thimbleberry covered hillside. Sitka’s fishery was a reflection of the Columbia River before my time. Exploring and being welcomed by Blue Canoe writers and Mt Edgecumbe High School creative writers sustained me.

March 21, 2016Permalink

Wild in the Willamette


Mission reflected RM

See my entry on Willamette Mission State Park in Wild in the Willamette, Oregon State Press’s guide to exploring the Willamette Valley, published 2015. It’s obvious why the indigenous people and early missionaries found the fecund river bottom desirable. A shadow structure calls up the original mission building. Essays by Charles Goodrich and Kathleen Dean Moore. Edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger. All proceeds from the publication will be directed to Greenbelt Land Trust, a conservation organization working on protecting the mid-Valley’s natural areas, rivers, wildlife, and trails. More info: www.greenbeltlandtrust.org.




November 1, 2015Permalink

About Place

Northern California Osage Fall Meeting November, 2013



Using stories from Osage writers and friends, we created maps that focused details of home for poetry, prose and personal story. Photo: Adeline Choi’s memories of Gray horse, 1930s.


November 25, 2013Permalink

Port Townsend Writers Conference

The Best of Summer Work and Play


Whether I was offering workshops, listening to craft talks or other participants reading at the Port Townsend Writers Conference this year, I celebrated the work writers do, tracking that truest word, the deepest feeling we can channel.

My workshop “Listening Deep: Writing Real Life” aimed to capture tenderness and connection in the midst of alienation. Participants wrote powerful words, then in the spirit of writing together, shared first drafts. Impressive groups.

My new poet friend, Lucia Leao and her family came from Florida to celebrate our Conversations Across Borders collaboration and we read at Northwind Art Center.

Author and teacher Sam Ligon (Willow Springs editor) and Kate Lebo, Poet and Pie maker, hosted Pie and Whiskey, building community, sharing a physical manifestation of all of the creative energy around us.

Otter Family on Point Wilson
Otter Family on Point Wilson

Point Wilson marks the transition between the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet. We, Wah Zha Zhi of the Osage Nation, love river otters. These animals have made the transition from living in freshwater to this seawater environment and bring their families onto the beach, offering entertainment and inspiration.

I came home refreshed, convinced that it is when we slow down to render details that we communicate moments of greatest vulnerability to our readers.

July 23, 2013Permalink

Being Out as a Writer

The poetry of bridges, creativity and community.

Photo by Woody Munk

For National Poetry Month Seattle poet and playwright Ann Teplick invited friends to a daily poetry practice followed by a salon at her home. Ann Hursey, Esther Helfgott, Lyn Coffin, Carla Griswold, and I read poems–relating to Motown, Pendleton, Harborview and husbands–over poet Kate Lebo’s poetry-ready cherry pie.




Poet Sharon Wood Wortman, AKA the Bridge Lady, led bridge walks for the 100-year birthday celebration for the Broadway Bridge in Portland, OR which included an appearance by Christopher Luna, the poet laureate of Clark County Washington, who read poetry on the bridge and in the bridge tender’s office.

Tim, Bridge staff & Christopher Luna tender &

The language of bridges. The Broadway Bridge is a Rall-type bascule bridge. Bascule meaning seesaw in French. There are three basic types of movable bridges in the Portland, OR area; the bascule, the vertical lift and the swing bridge. Poetic. Read more bridge engineering at Multnomah County.

I read with the 29th Street Writers at Tabor Space for the first time, in an intimate setting on a balmy Portland spring night. Poet Ila Suzanne Gray emceed and shared her ekphrasis.

Photo by Kendall
Photo by Kendall







& I shared work in a daily practice with poet Lucia Leao, Brazilian writer and a translator living in Florida. Our inspirations spanned our respective trips to Rio and the Pillars of Rome in remote southeastern Oregon.


 Beijos a todos.



May 5, 2013Permalink