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Blue Smoke

Erika Duncan

Founder and Artistic Director

Herstory Writers Network

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The notion of passing along the dare to care (the cornerstone of the Herstory approach) is simple. The ramifications are far reaching and profound, as we move out of silence into speech.


When we care deeply enough, we find words we didn’t know we had. Each of us has a “poetry of experience” hidden deep inside us, that can be called into being out of the stream of memories that bubble up to the surface from our hope and our anger and grief. When we dare to imagine that someone might hear us and care, bit by bit, we break out of the silence and isolation that is the fate of so many.

But what is caring, really? It is so much more than a feeling passed along to another, going nowhere. 

It is—and must always be—a very deep call to action. Otherwise, our belief in society’s capacity to protect us will die even before it is properly born.


Through bringing people into small writing circles and giving them the empathy-based tools to break silences together, we join hands to create a literature that will dare our larger community to care enough to take action, as we seek to find paths away from the cycles of poverty, violence, addiction, abuse and despair into which so many were born.

Erika Duncan

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