The next deadline for submission
of a grant application is December 15, 2018.






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.

Click here for general information about the grants.
Click here for information about applying for an event grant.
Click here for information about applying for a study group grant.

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Upcoming study groups fall 2018:

Reading Virginia Woolf's Nonfiction, led by Judith Barrington
--waiting list only--
Four Saturday mornings, 10 to 1
September 15, 22, 29 and October 6
Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark

Reading Grace Paley's Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry, led by Natalie Serber
Four Saturday mornings, 10:30 to 1:30
October 20, 27, November 3 and 17
Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark

The fee is $75; scholarships are available. The group is limited to 16. To register, send an email to, and a check made out to Soapstone, 622 SE 29th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214.

Winter and Spring 2019

Reading Margaret Atwood, led by Trisha Snell
Four Saturday mornings, 10 to 1
Janaury 12, 26 and February 2 and 9
ArtSpace Room, TaborSpace, 55th & SE Stark

Reading Denise Levertov, led by Mimi Maduro
Four Saturday mornings, 10 to 1
March 9, 16, 23, and 30
ArtSpace Room, TaborSpace, 55th & SE Stark

Reading Lucille Clifton, led by Lois Leveen
Four Saturday mornings, 10 to 1
April 13, 20, 27 and May 4
ArtSpace Room, TaborSpace, 55th & SE Stark


Reading Virginia Woolf’s Nonfiction, led by Judith Barrington

You may know Virginia Woolf from one or all of her novels: perhaps you read To the Lighthouse in college or discovered Orlando by chance and with great delight. But do you know the enormous amount Woolf wrote apart from the ten novels? She revealed herself as an early feminist in work such as Three Guineas and the well-known A Room of One’s Own, and wrote numerous essays and short stories, many book reviews, and a constant diary that cannot be dismissed from a summary of her literary output. In this study group, we will jump into just a few of these offerings, and perhaps match up some of the writing with the letters Woolf wrote to her Bloomsbury contemporaries as well as to a wide array of writers and thinkers beyond her circle.

I grew up in Sussex and rode my pony on the Downs where Woolf often walked, thinking about her current project, while living at Monks’ House in Rodmell. She died three years before I was born and I knew nothing about her until later, when her work became important to me both as a feminist and as a writer, my sense of connection perhaps enhanced by having roamed that same patch of downland, often described in the diaries.

Whether you are a longtime Virginia Woolf fan, or are coming new to her work, you will find plenty to read, and always, thanks to the internet and the library, supplementary texts such as biographies and commentaries that have been written through the years since this astonishing body of work was published in the early twentieth century. Together, we will dip into it and discuss a selection of the short works.

If you want to get a sense of the author and her life before the study group begins (not at all required), I think the best biography is Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee.

Judith Barrington was born in Brighton, England, and came to Oregon in 1976. Her Lifesaving: A Memoir was the winner of the Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. She is also the author of the best-selling Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art and four collections of poetry. Her fifth poetry book, Long Love: New and Selected Poems, will be released by Salmon Poetry in June, 2018.She has been a faculty member of the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s low-residency MFA Program and gives workshops and readings around the U.S. and in Britain.


Reading Grace Paley's Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry, led by Natalie Serber

"When you write, you illuminate what's hidden, and that is a political act."
                                                                                             ~Grace Paley

The right book finds us when we need it. That was absolutely true for me as a young mother and beginning writer. A friend put a Grace Paley collection in my hands and there was something so accessible, so charming, insightful, funny and deceptively uncomplicated about Paley's voice that I felt known. Writer, mother, activist, always unapologetic, Paley said, "The outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are." Her book was an invitation for me to come to the page with my own voice.

Paley published only three slim collections of her wry and gossipy short stories. She also wrote essays and poems. In this discussion group we will be reading a good mix of her work. Women's lives, the joys and pressures of children, husbands, sex and work, aging parents, social justice, basically life in its messy glory is her subject.  Whether you are new to Paley or have been reading her your entire life, I look forward to taking a deep dive with you!

Paley, Grace. Just as I Thought, Farrar Strauss Giroux. NY 1998 
Paley, Grace. The Collected Stories, Farrar Strauss Giroux. NY. 1994 

Natalie Serber is the author of Community Chest, (Two Sylvias Press), and Shout Her Lovely Name, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) a New York Times Notable Book of 2012, a summer reading selection from O, the Oprah Magazine, and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Zyzzyva, The Greensboro Review, The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, Inkwell, and Hunger Mountain.  Essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, The Rumpus, Salon, and Fourth Genre.  She lives in Portland, Oregon.


Reading Margaret Atwood’s Poetry and Short Fiction, led by Tricia Snell

tell me
just as it was
from the beginning. — Atwood, 1967 

The parts of writers’ lives that are interesting are usually the part before they become a well-known writer. — Atwood, 2017 

Now I am a grownup
and literate
and I sit in my chair
as quietly as a fuse …Atwood, 1968

At the women’s marches of January 2017, several signs pled “Make Margaret Atwood fiction again!” Indeed! Well, this study group will attempt to do that—and more—by focusing on her deliciously direct, cut-to-the-core, yes-often-dark-but-frequently-very-funny early poems and short fiction, before she was thought of as the oracle of dystopia. We’ll also read and discuss a few recent poems and stories to see what connections we might uncover.

Our quest will be to revel in, or at least turn a few cartwheels inside, this earlier voice, and perhaps see how it compares to her current voice. We’ll also explore the world-view that blossomed into her marvelously varied and vivid body of work (by my count, she’s written 71 books of all kinds, as well as umpteen talks and articles and reviews).

I’m a Canadian who grew up in Atwood territory, literally in terms of geography, and literarily (yes it’s a word!) in terms of what I read as a young person (besides Atwood and a handful of other Canadians such as Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence, that early reading included a lot of British gothic and European social novels, with some James, Hemingway and Fitzgerald thrown in). Atwood’s worldview resonates with me in Old World-New World ways, with strong reverberations coming from the familial, tainted-love, power-structure dynamics of the Canada-U.S.A. relationship.

My hope is that excavating the origins of Atwood’s voice—or her many voices—will act as a launching pad for greater enjoyment of Atwood’s whole, vast body of work. Delight is the main goal. Along the way, I hope each of us as citizens of the Earth will gain insight into the sources of our own world views and voices.

One day you will reach a bend in your life.
Time will curve like a wind
and after that the young
will no longer be afraid of you
the way they ought to be …Atwood, 2007

Texts will include Eating Fire, Selected Poetry 1965-1995; selections from The Door (poems, 2007); and either Surfacing (a short novel, 1972) or Dancing Girls (short story collection, 1977). Confirmation of this will be sent out in good time prior to the first study group meeting. I’ll also show some early videos of Atwood reading her work.

Tricia Snell is a Canadian-American writer and flutist. She writes stories, poems, essays, reviews, and songs and is the author of the book Artist Communities (Allworth Press). Her writing has been published in Art PapersOregon HumanitiesThe Oregonian, and The Grove Review, and has been read by actor Barbara Rappaport on the National Public Radio show, The Sound of Writing. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, USA and an ARCT flute performance degree from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, ON, Canada. Tricia’s past roles include Executive Director of two arts nonprofits (Caldera and the Alliance of Artists’ Communities) and Writer/Project Manager for environmental organizations. She splits her time between Nova Scotia, Canada and Oregon, USA.


To be notified about these programs and those of many other literary organizations, sign up for ou bi-weekly community email announcements that come out every other week with information about readings, workshops and opportunities for readers and writers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

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For a complete list of grants awarded, please click here to see or download a PDF.