Between 2005 and 2010, Mountain Writers Series was a leading literary sponsor at the annual Wordstock Book Fair, hosting dozens of poets and featuring Oregon's Poet Laureate, as well as presenting numerous fiction and nonfiction readings, special events and literary panels.
During those six years Mountain Writers Series presented over half of the 550 authors who appeared at Wordstock -- among them both prize-winning poets and writers -- Kim Barnes, Ron Carlson, David James Duncan, Donald Hall, Edward Hirsch, William Kittredge, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dana Levin, Vern Rutsala, Dennis Schmitz, Joseph Stroud, Robert Wrigley -- as well as emerging writers or those with regional significance.
To hear readings by poets and writers reading in those years, link to the Oregon Poetic Voices site.
Mountain Writers Series hosted nearly 300 writers on its stages during the first six years of the Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon. In addition to readings, Mountain Writers Series scheduled panels and multi-arts performances, featuring writers performing their work with musicians.
In October 2010, Oregon Poet Laureate, Paulann Petersen, gave the following opening remarks as introduction to the events on the Mountain Writers Series stages for Wordstock 2010.
Remarks at the Opening of Wordstock, 2010
It’s a delight and an honor to help launch the Mountain Writers’ readings at Wordstock 2010. Two stages. Two days. Sixty writers. Remarkable.
Mountain Writers has been a fixture at Wordstock since its inception. Over 300 writers have appeared on the Wordstock Mountain Writers stages since 2005, and Mountain Writers has been the force establishing and sustaining poetry’s presence at this festival. For that, I give particular thanks to the entire Mountain Writers’ board of directors and staff.
Orchestrating over 60 writers on two stages for two days is a formidable undertaking. But it’s only one of Mountain Writers’ ongoing programs. Mountain Writers sponsors the monthly Press Club readings on Clinton Street in Southeast Portland. Third Wednesdays. Mountain Writers offers the bi-annual Columbia Gorge Writers’ Conference, which—in June of 2011—will feature on its faculty Annick Smith, William Kittredge, Barbara Drake, Vern Rutsala, and Gerald Costanza. And that’s only what MW is doing currently.
Established in 1973, Mountain Writers has spent 37 years enriching our region with visits, readings, and workshops by many of the world’s finest writers. The list of writers who have given readings and workshops and talks under the aegis of Mountain Writers and its partners includes W.S. Merwin, Rita Dove, Sherman Alexie, Lucille Clifton, Czeslaw Milosz, Jamaica Kincaid, Charles Simic, and Derek Walcott. The whole list is hundreds of names long.
I took workshops led by Sharon Olds, Martin Espada, and Carolyn Forché, thanks to Mountain Writers. I heard C. K. Williams, Eavan Boland, Jane Hirschfield, and Galway Kinnell give readings, thanks to Mountain Writers. My West Linn High School creative writing students had workshops led by Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, Agha Shahid Ali, and Cornelius Eady, thanks to Mountain Writers.
For decades, through its Northwest Regional Residencies Program, Mountain Writers toured stellar writers through Oregon and Washington. For years, Mountain Writers opened the doors of its Center (on Milwaukie Boulevard, in Portland), inviting the public to readings, workshops and gatherings.
Am I listing all of MW accomplishments? No. I’ve mentioned only a fraction of them. The 37 years of Mountain Writers’ existence hold a remarkable variety and number of programs. But there is one constant in the Mountain Writers’ story.
Sandra founded Mountain Writers in 1973. She’s been, all along, its sustaining force, its guiding vision. What our community of readers and writers owes to Sandra Williams is immeasurable. Offering Sandra our praise and gratitude today is a pleasure.