Clatskanie's Raymond Carver Writing Festival begins with April poetry contest


March 16, 2023

The revived Raymond Carver Writing Festival (RCWF) is back for its second year with an emphasis on poetry.

Located in Clatskanie, Oregon where the world-famous poet and short story writer Raymond Carver (1938-1988) was born, the two-day festival, May 19-20, will be preceded by a poetry contest in April “Poetry Month” with the theme from Carver’s poem Happiness: “Happiness. It comes on unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really, any early morning talk about it.”

The contest will kickoff with Poetry and Pie (Carver’s favorite dessert) from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, at the Clatskanie Library, 11 Lillich Street.

Poetry from youth living within the Clatskanie School District boundaries and adults from throughout the Lower Columbia region will be judged in the following categories: Youth (ages 8-10, 11-12, 13-15, 16-18); Adults: Published and Non-Published, and Haiku: Open to both youth and adults. Entries are limited to two poems per poet. Cash prizes will be awarded.

More information will be available at or prior to the April 1 start of the poetry contest. Participation in both the poetry contest and the May 19-20 festival events is free.

Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani will be the featured presenter at a reception on Friday, May 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Clatskanie Cultural Center, 75 S. Nehalem Street. The reception also will feature speakers on Carver’s connection to Clatskanie, local authors, and refreshments. There will also be a commemorative bookmark printing in collaboration with the C.C. Stern Type Foundry.

Prior to the May 19 evening reception, a pop-up poetry booth will offer readings of Carver poems beginning at 1 p.m., festival information, maps for a self-guided walking tour of Carver’s birthplace, mural and sculpture, and the Clatskanie Historical Museum at the Castle where Carver memorabilia is on display. Also available for purchase will be keepsake posters and t-shirts, while supplies last.

A free showing of the 1993 movie, Short Cuts, based on Carver works is set for 2 p.m. May 19 in the Clatskanie Cultural Center’s Birkenfeld Theatre. The movie is R rated. Free popcorn will be available.

On the schedule for Saturday, May 20, will be workshops by Mojgani, Michael Mills, host of the Raymond Carver Podcast; Marianne Monson, a leader of the Astoria Writer’s Guild, and Cathlamet poet Dayle Olson. More details about the workshops soon will be listed on

Presentations of awards and readings by youth winners of the poetry contest in the Birkenfeld Theatre at the Cultural Center is set for 4:30 p.m. on May 20, followed by dinner in the ballroom, at 5:30 p.m. Cost of the chicken fettuccini dinner and pie dessert is $20. Reservations are required and may be made online at

After dinner, the winners of the adult categories in the poetry contest will read their winning poems, followed by an open mic poetry jam.

The Raymond Carver Writing Festival is sponsored by the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Historical Society, State Historical Preservation Office, Columbia County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, Clatskanie Foundation, Clatskanie Library, Wauna Credit Union, Writers Guild of Astoria, C.C. Stern Type Foundry, Clatskanie Arts Commission, and Jerome White.


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