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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AUDIO: KCUP News/Talk (1230 AM & 100.7-2 HD FM) - Making a Difference: Interview with WOE Founder, Carla Perry (click segment to listen)


AUDIO: KCUP News/Talk (1230 AM & 100.7-2 HD FM) - Rebecca Cohen Interviews Matt Love, Carla Perry, and Dennis Jones (click segment to listen)

The Writers' Series began in Yachats in June 1997. Carla Perry, the Series' founder, with the sponsorship of Friends of the Yachats Commons, obtained a grant to pay featured authors $25 each, with lodging and meals provided in Perry's home. 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, Perry renamed the program 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.

As the founder and volunteer executive director of the Nye Beach Writers' Series and Writers on the Edge for 14 years, Carla Perry received the Stewart Holbrook Special Award at the 2002 Oregon Book Awards for her outstanding commitment to Oregon's literary community. In 2003, she received the Oregon Governor's Art Award for her extraordinary efforts regarding Nye Beach Writers' Series. As of 2014, the Writers' Series has hosted more than 400 authors at its monthly events and workshops.

The Nye Beach Writers' Series has become a respected 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 nonfiction, Oregon history, poetry, nature writing, memoir, songwriting, and playwriting. Since the beginning, Perry and the WOE directors who have succeeded her have selected featured authors based on the quality of their writing and their ability to connect with an audience, not their fame. Events feature a mix of writers from those beginning their literary careers to authors of national renown. Among our past presenters have been Chuck Palahniuk and Cheryl Strayed, who have gone on to become best-selling authors.

Most events are held at the Newport Visual Arts Center the third Saturday of each month. Special events, including workshops for adults and young writers, 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. The featured author reads for 30-45 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 those testing their public voices for the first time. 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 mic, 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 35 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.

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. Local hotels and motels graciously provide donated rooms for all our featured authors each month.

In recent years, Carla Perry has passed the administration of Writers on the Edge and the Nye Beach Writers Series on to an all-volunteer board that keeps her dream going. After seventeen years, we're still going strong and looking forward to many more years of literary greatness.