Trend / Remembering Raymond Carver: Return of the Clatskanie Writing Festival | News


In honor of National Poetry Month, the Clatskanie Arts Commission and the Clatskanie Library will revive the famous Clatskanie Festival which attracts fans and biographers from around the world.

The Raymond Carver Writing Festival returns to the Clatskanie Cultural Center at 75 Nehalem Street on Friday May 20 and Saturday May 21.

The two-day event is sponsored by the CC Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Each year beginning in 2007, the Clatskanie Arts Commission and Clatskanie Library have hosted the Raymond Carver Writing Festival in honor of the short story writer and poet, known as one of “American literature’s most significant contributors”. writing.

Clatskanie Arts Commission organizer Elsa Wooley said the event was formed by the Friends of Clatskanie Library and discontinued in 2012 after the volunteer group disbanded.

“I think it just took its course,” she said.

Wooley said a conversation with Clatskanie mural artist Jeremy Furnish inspired the arts commission to bring the festival back.

“Furnish approached us and asked if (we) would be willing to continue with the mural project, which we were very interested in. So we were working with him, and the next mural is of course the Raymond Carver mural,” Wooley said.

Calling it “the perfect marriage of two activities,” she added, “we took a great interest in Raymond Carver and found ways to educate our community about who Raymond Carver is and why our community should be very proud. from him”.

Event organizers met on Tuesday, April 5 to discuss plans and preparations for the poetry contest and upcoming event activities.

Clatskanie Library director Maryanne Hirning said she had already started notifying library patrons of the Raymond Carver writing festival.

“What I mostly did was create a lot of the platform on our website, the library website,” she said. “Lots of info on this, I’ve embedded this wonderful presentation and uploaded it to Vimeo and made it available on our website, as well as created a little RSVP document which we hope will give us a clue as to how many people are going to be involved.

Friday’s reception from 6 to 8 p.m. will be followed by an informative presentation by Deborah Hazen of the Clatskanie Historical Society and remarks by Peninsula College professor and Raymond Carver podcaster Michael Mills.

On day two of the event, Mills will give an overview of Raymond Carver, followed by a presentation by poet Elaine Nussbaum.

Lyricist Dr. Margaret Trenchard-Smith and composer Kevin Bryant Lay will also co-star at this event.

Check the Clatskanie Library District website for the full schedule of events.

The library also organizes a poetry contest for young people aged 8 to 18 from the Clatskanie school district. The last call for entries is at 5 p.m. on April 30, and judges will score poems based on specific criteria, including poetic elements, grammar, attention to theme, and creativity.

Regarding the timing, Hirning said, “I think it’s such a good time with Poetry Month. If you’re a homeschooling family or in the school district itself, this is a great way to get that hands-on ability to create while learning different types of poetry.

The judges will announce the poetry contest winners at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at the Birkenfeld Theater, where each winner will have the opportunity to read their poem on stage.

There will be two winners selected from four different age groups. A $50 prize will be awarded for first place and a $25 prize will be awarded for second place.

Poetry contest submissions may be emailed, dropped off, or mailed. Check the Clatskanie Library District website for detailed information.

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie and moved to Yakima, Washington where he spent his childhood. He studied at Chico State University in Chico, California with John Gardner and received his BA from Humboldt State College in 1963.

Some of Carver’s critically acclaimed short story collections include Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976), What are we talking about when we talk about love (1981) and Cathedral (1983).

Carver’s stories reflect his understanding of lower-middle-class reality, according to the Poetry Foundation website.

“[Their surroundings are] not for them a picturesque wonderland still untouched, but a place where earning a living is as difficult and the texture of life as dull, for those who have no money, as everywhere else,” the reviewer wrote. literary Thomas J. Edwards in his analysis of Carver. written.

Although Carver died of lung cancer in 1988, his memory lives on in Clatskanie.

One of the most visible examples is the Clatskanie fresco painted along the old hospital building in Nehalem Street. The mural was launched in April 2021 by Furnish, who issued a call for artists/request for design proposals for their project.

The winning submission, created by Seaside resident Dylan Eckland, features a larger-than-life sculptor alongside Beaver Falls and a quote from Carver’s poem, “Where Water Comes Together with Other Water.”

Clatskanie fresco

This is the concept drawing for the Nehalem Street Mural depicting Raymond Carver.

The quote reads: “I’ll take as long as I please this afternoon before leaving my place along this river.”

Another visual observation by Carver is a sculpture, located in Clatskanie Library Park, that honors the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, commissioned by the Friends of Clatskanie Library.

As Carver’s birthplace attracts visitors from around the world, bringing valuable tourism to Clatskanie, Wooley has identified what she believes is a more powerful driving force behind the writing festival.

“Raymond Carver, in all his biographies, commentaries and interviews, always said he was born in Clatskanie, Oregon. He was proud of that, even though he didn’t live here for a very long time,” said Wooley.

“He always acknowledged that was where he was born,” she added. “So I think he deserves this recognition from us.”


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