Saturday, October 3, 2009

Writers at Soapstone: Bette Lynch Husted

Bette Lynch Husted was awarded a two-week residency at Soapstone in 2002, during which time she completed her memoir, Above the Clearwater. During a second two-week residency in 2006 she worked on her poetry collection, At This Distance.

She wrote about her time in 2006:

“Something happens, I suppose, in any writing residency simply from having, at last, uninterrupted time. But Soapstone has, for me, a special magic. I feel as if I am inside my self—inside my head and heart, listening to that voice that comes through my fingers—and inside the world at the same time, not separated from the hummingbirds at the feeder or the deer wading up the creek or the thrushes calling from the elderberry bush. Somehow I am able to look more clearly at my writing, to see it from both inside and above, at the same time. As I walk to the Hatchery or on the beach, as I share and revise with the other resident in the evenings, even as we talk over dinner, the writing process goes on uninterrupted.

I’m grateful to have been at Soapstone in two seasons. Memories of fires (even when none are burning; it’s past the summer solstice), of sun and wind and hail, of conversations with other writers and friends, stay at Soapstone almost as physical presences.

I want the words I write to be as close as possible to the presence of what they represent. There is always a gap, I know. At Soapstone, the gap narrows, sometimes feels as if it closes altogether. And I can bring traces of that magic home with me, like the bottle of water I brought home from the McKenzie River after my first week at The Flight of the Mind, shaking my head yet finding myself unable to leave it behind.”

Bette Lynch Husted is the author of Above the Clearwater: Living on Stolen Land (OSU Press, 2004) which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and the WILLA Award in creative nonfiction; and a poetry chapbook, After Fire, published in 2002. Her poetry collection At This Distance will be published in fall 2010 by Wordcraft of Oregon. She received a 2007 Oregon Arts Commission fellowship and was a "Found at Fishtrap" fellow at Fishtrap's 2007 20th anniversary celebration. Her work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Northwest Review, Fourth Genre, Oregon Humanities and other journals.