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Press Release

Clatskanie Hosts Raymond Carver Writing Festival May 17-18;

“Where I’m Calling From” Theme of April Poetry Contest


“Where I’m Calling From,” the title of both a short story and a collection of stories by Raymond Carver, the world-renowned writer born in Clatskanie, is the theme of the annual Raymond Carver Writing Festival May 17-18.


Prior to the two-day festival, the Clatskanie Library again is sponsoring a poetry contest during April “Poetry Month.”


Poems brought to the Clatskanie Library at 11 Lillich Street or emailed to by April 30, will be judged in the following categories: young people who live within the Clatskanie School District boundaries in four age group divisions, 8-10, 11-12, 13-15, 16-18, and adults, open to adults throughout the Lower Columbia River region. Cash prizes for the first two places in each category will be awarded. 


Carver, who was called by novelist Stephen King “surely the most influential writer of American short stories in the second half of the 20th century,” was born on May 25, 1938 in the brick building on Clatskanie’s North Nehalem Street which served at the time as Dr. James Wooden’s hospital. Named Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr., after his father who was employed as a saw filer at the Wauna paper mill, Ray spent only the first two years of his life in the Clatskanie area before the family moved to Yakima, Wash.


Carver returned to Clatskanie only once, in 1984, the same year he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Accompanied by Tess Gallagher, who would become his second wife, Carver stopped at the Clatskanie Library where he signed copies of his book; visited the Flippin Castle and signed the Dr. Wooden Baby Book; lunched at Hump’s Restaurant; then he and Tess read some of their poems aloud in the Evergreen Shopping Center/Safeway parking lot. Carver died of lung cancer in 1988 at the age of 50.


The 2024 Raymond Carver Writing Festival will begin Friday, May 17, at 5 p.m. at the Clatskanie Cultural Center, 75 S. Nehalem Street, with a publishers and writers fair, followed by a reception beginning at 6 p.m. featuring Chad Wrigelsworth of The Raymond Carver Review. Keynote presenter at the reception will be Kim Stafford, a poet and essayist from Portland, former Oregon Poet Laureate, and the son of the late William Stafford, also a renowned poet and a U.S. Poet Laureate.


Robert Michael Pyle, an ecologist and the author of 28 books, is the featured poet for the festival. He will lead a poetry reading on the opening evening at Flowers ’n Fluff,, 45 E. Columbia River Highway. Story-telling at Fultano’s, 770 E. Columbia River Highway, will follow. The evening will conclude with readings and open mic at Colvin’s Pub & Grill, 135 N. Nehalem Street.


Kim Stafford will open the second day of the festival, Saturday, May 18, with a morning writing warm-up at the Clatskanie Cultural Center, followed by workshops organized by novelist Marianne Monson of the Astoria Writers Guild.


Attendees and participants of the free writing festival are encouraged to Explore Carver in Clatskanie at several locations around the community on Saturday afternoon where there will be readings and presentations. In commemoration of Carver’s visit to Clatskanie 40 years ago, Parking Lot Poetry will be read at the Evergreen Shopping Center/Safeway parking lot, 401 W. Columbia River Highway. The Clatskanie Library, 11 Lillich Street, will offer writing prompts for those who wish to steal time for writing.


Readings of their poetry by the youth winners of the Raymond Carver Writing Festival Poetry Contest is set for 4:30 p.m. in the Birkenfeld Theatre at the Clatskanie Cultural Center.


A dinner will be hosted by the Clatskanie Farmer Collective at 6 p.m. at the Food Hub, 80 NE Steele Street. Cost is $20 per plate. Dessert will be a potluck of pies - Carver’s favorite dessert. After dinner, winners of the adult poetry contest will be introduced and asked to present their poems, followed by an open mic poetry session hosted by Joseph Green, a Longview poet and retired Lower Columbia College professor.

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