Portland-Area Resources to Support, Inspire, and Embolden Your Writing Endeavors
by Trista Cornelius
We live in a literature-rich town offering opportunities for readers and writers nearly every day of the week all year round. So, I asked a few writers about their favorites, did a little research of my own, and pared it down to a moderate list to get you started.
The most passionately recommended resource for writers was readings. Every writer I talked with said, “Go to readings!” Not only are you supporting the work of fellow writers, you are broadening your literary horizons by experiencing different voices, writing genres and styles, and immersing yourself in contemporary literature. You are also sitting next to other readers and writers inspired enough to be at an event in spite of crazy weather, a hard day at work, or hermit tendencies.
Next-most fervently suggested resource: local bookstores. Obviously, you can buy the books you love here while also supporting the local arts economy, but you can also connect to your local reading-and-writing community: aka rub elbows with other lovers of literature to talk craft, recommend favorite titles and authors, and be the kind of reader you want for your own work. Broadway Books is my personal favorite, and Annie Bloom’s Books hosts many events.
The rest of what Portland has to offer writers could be its own book (and should be a book if any of you feel ambitious enough to write it). Hopefully Powell’s has long been on your reading-and-writing radar for its shelves of books and opportunities to meet authors from near and far. You probably know of Literary Arts for its Portland Arts and Lecture series, but visit its website to learn about classes, free readings, and more. A few other resources for you to explore:
- Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC): for five dollars an hour, you can scan, copy, bind, cut, and even letter press your way to publication. Watch a video tour of the space on their website and visit the “information desk” link for an overview of what IPRC can do to help you get your words (and images) to your audience.
- Reading Frenzy is not just a bookstore but “an independent press emporium” that provides independent and alternative literature and art. To spark your imagination and see what other artist-writers have brought to life, peruse the shelves at Reading Frenzy. You can also visit the “detours” link on their website to get an idea what they stock on their shelves and display on their walls.
- Visit the Multnomah County Library to check out everything from novels to zines. They have also culminated a page of links to Portland-area resources for writers here: “Local Resources for Writers.” The Central Library downtown offers the Sterling Room for Writers, a “relatively quiet” place for writers to focus on a project with large tables to spread out the work and outlets to power your writerly gadgets.
- Soapstone, Oregon Writers Colony, and Willamette Writers are all examples of organizations supporting writers with events, conferences, retreats, readings, and more. Sign up for newsletters, follow them on Facebook, or attend one of their events to learn more.
- Both Cari Luna and Susan DeFreitas mentioned the Unchaste Reading Series, which is definitely something to know about because it is for “women reading their minds.” You will find interviews, events, and opportunities on their website.
- There are so many more resources and opportunities to explore, like LitHop and Late Night Library.
If you’re overwhelmed by Portland’s abundant literary wealth, begin by exploring a couple of resources each week or each month, depending on your writing and life schedule, until you find a few that feel like the right fit for you. Bring a writer-reader friend along with you to an event and spread the wealth, both for fellow writer-readers and to help support these artist-centered resources that open their doors (virtual or actual) to the writing community in Portland, which Cari Luna accurately described as “incredibly inclusive and supportive.”
As you engage in this literary scavenger hunt, please post comments here with recommendations of other places and sites that serve writers well. We would love to know about your favorite writerly places and spaces.
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This article concludes Trista Cornelius’ column for VoiceCatcher, “Dotting Your Ts and Crossing Your Eyes.” The column comprises 24 articles about the writer’s craft and the writing life, specifically geared for the VoiceCatcher community. The editors deeply appreciate Trista’s commitment to authoring the longstanding column, as well as her talent, skill and willingness to share her knowledge and experience. Thank you, Trista!
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Punctuation have you perplexed? Seeking wise counsel on how to be grammatically correct? Send your questions for Trista to the VoiceCatcher website editors. If she selects your question to answer in a future article, you may receive a bonus: a free copy of a VoiceCatcher print anthology!
Trista Cornelius authored VoiceCatcher’s longstanding monthly column, “Dotting Your Ts and Crossing Your Eyes,” about the writer’s craft. Trista is currently on a leave of absence from Clackamas Community College where she has been teaching writing, literature and food studies. Follow her writing, reading and eating adventures here.