History of Writers On The Edge, Inc.

Northwest Coast Magazine
Spring 2009 issue
Writers On The Edge article

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The Writers' Series began in Yachats in June 1997.

Friends of the Yachats Commons and the owner of  Dancing Moon Press, Carla Perry, obtained a grant to pay featured authors $25 each, with lodging and meals. During that first year and a half, fifty-one authors read their work to room-capacity audiences. Due to the program’s success, the Writers Series moved thirty miles north to Newport in 1999 in response to an offer by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts to hold events at the Performing Arts Center. In honor of that site's historic bohemian location, the series was renamed the Nye Beach Writers' Series. By 2002 it was necessary to create a separate nonprofit so the program could apply for grants and expand programming to include in-school and after-school youth workshops, adult workshops, and special events.

 

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The Nye Beach Writers’ Series has become a renowed  literary program of readings held monthly, year-round, in Newport, a city of around 10,000 on the Central Oregon Coast. The Series presents a diversity of writers and writing forms to an enthusiastic community with a love of live literary culture. Featured authors represent journalism, science fiction, literary non-fiction, Oregon history, poetry, nature writing, memoir, songwriting, and playwriting. Featured authors are selected based on quality of writing, not their fame. Events feature a mix of writers from those beginning their literary careers as well as famous authors.

Event format with open mic.  Literary events are considered entertainment. Most events are held at the Newport Visual Arts Center the third Saturday of each month. Special events are held at various locations depending on anticipated audience size.

At 7 p.m., the emcee greets the audience, thanks the local sponsors, and thanks the community for leaving the comfort of their armchairs and TVs to attend live culture. An original and personal introduction of the night’s guest is presented, and the featured author reads for thirty minutes followed by a fifteen minute Q&A. After intermission, during which the audience can purchase books, imbibe and socialize, the open mic takes place. The open mic is limited to the first ten people who sign up; each can read original work for up to five minutes. The open mic atmosphere is exciting, experimental and motivating, especially for youth who test their public voices. People who write lyrics are invited to bring instruments; all participants are encouraged to promote and sell their books and CDs. Authors, both featured and open mike, receive 100 percent of their book sales dollars. Admission is kept deliberately low to cultivate attendance. Students in all area high schools and colleges always receive free admission to all public events.

Audience size varies from 45 to more than 150 depending on name recognition of the featured author, competing Newport events, and winter storms. The object is not only to present quality writing, but also to encourage the audience to go home and do their own writing.

Workshops and Special Events. Workshops for youth are held in-school, after-school, and summers. In most cases, an anthology of student work is published and books are available for sale at a reading where the public is invited. All participants always receive full scholarships to attend. Free, nutritious lunches or dinners are also included because we believe it is difficult to be creative on an empty stomach. Adult workshops and special events are held as opportunities arrive, usually in conjunction with the presenter’s reading at the Saturday night Writers’ Series. These workshops and special events have been made possible by grants from local organizations including but not limited to Confederated Tribes of Siletz and more. 

Collaborations have taken place with support from the University of Oregon in Eugene, KBOO radio, Mountain Writers Series, Community of Writers, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Newport Public Library, Lincoln County School District, Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, City of Newport, Oregon Council for the Humanities, Bob’s Beach Books in Lincoln City, Nye Beach Books in Newport, Rattapallax Press of New York City, Ernest Bloch Music Festival, and Carried Voices, a federal program. The local hotel and motel industry graciously provides donated rooms for all our featured authors each month.