Workshop co-leader Elizabeth Young shared the following brief essay she wrote during the session, about writing with the women in the group:

“Why is it so comfortable with women?  Why can we talk together, strangers here, about the secrets we keep bottled inside? Remember Alice?  She finds the bottle, it says “Drink Me,” and she does, without fear.  In the world outside this room, would we drink something unknown, or would we be afraid of poison, of harm, of ever more abstract loss and destruction?

“This session feels like an Alice moment, when we’re fearless, ready to unbottle the secrets, to allow them out of the bottle and into the room.  There’s a bottle.  It’s small, thick blue glass with a wax seal holding the cork tight.  The label is attached with hemp string.  It’s linen paper, faded ivory.  The handwriting is curved and elegant.  It says, “Open Me.”

“This group is the liquid inside: each drop of female courage is what we, like Alice—and like Grace Slick, too—needs to drink.  One woman in the group starts it, uncovering loss, and we’re off, laughing as we encourage and daring ourselves to put the secrets into words.  I don’t remember what happens when Alice follows directions:  “Drink Me.”  She may become small first.  But I like Grace Slick’s version (sorry, Lewis Carroll, it’s a girl thing)— “Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall.”

“And that’s what happens, isn’t it, when we drink the bottle of courage?  We get big, and brave, and strong.  The minute we share with each other, woman to woman to woman, and we feel with love and joy each other’s drops of courage, we become ten feet tall.  I’m struck by how rare this is, a coming together to solidify female bravery, which takes the form of words and serves the functions of unlocking, creating, building, connecting.

““Drink Me.”  That’s what we hear the minute we’re out of the womb: a woman saying, “Here, baby, Drink Me.””

Festival Rep Betsy McTiernan, who attended this session, wrote:

“An inspiring evening. The first prompt–write a letter to a body part–got us off to a provocative start.  Everyone wrote; everyone read, and judging from the laughter, everyone had a good time. Angela and Elizabeth created a warm, welcoming atmosphere, including some great snacks. I missed WRites of Passage #1, but I’ll be returning on the 20th for WRites of Passage #3.”