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Oregon Writing Festival 

Join us on Saturday, May 7, 2022 for the 37th Annual OWF


The Oregon Writing Festival takes place annually each spring, co-sponsored by Portland State University College of Education and OCTE.  Writers in grades 4-12  from across the state of Oregon gather in small groups, listen to published authors talk about their craft, share their work with peers from other schools, and compose new pieces in workshops run by local authors and teachers. Parents can also attend a workshop aimed at support budding writers at home.

The goals of the Writing Festival are

  • Cultivating a love of writing in students and teachers
  • Honoring the work outstanding student writers
  • Connecting student writers with Oregon authors and other student writers
  • Helping to hone students' writing skills

Get Involved

You can be involved in this energizing event by serving as a Day Group Leader, which involves escorting a group of 10 students at the 4 - 5, 6 - 8, or 9 - 12 level throughout the day and facilitating the session where students read the writing sample they brought for critique by the group. Interested?  Contact Janice Bahns at grandmabahns@yahoo.com.

Or, you can also engage as a Workshop Leader. As a Workshop Leader, you prepare a writing activity for a group of 15 - 20 students that takes about 2 - 3 minutes to introduce; the students write for 30 - 35 minutes and then they share their work for 15 - 20 minutes (total session time: 1 hour). Workshop Leaders teach two one-hour workshops (sometimes spaced between morning and afternoon) to two different groups of students at one of these grade levels: 4 - 5, 6 - 8, or 9 - 12. As a Workshop Leader, you'll earn a $50 stipend, breakfast and lunch, the much-coveted holy grail of writing: the Oregon Writing Festival coffee mug, and the chance to hear wonderful keynote authors. You can access the Workshop Leader proposal form on the OCTE website  or contact Maika Yeigh at myeigh@pdx.edu .

‚ÄčWorkshop Proposal Guidelines

Workshops are designed for students to write under the guidance of experienced teachers. Please prepare a writing activity, introduce it briefly (no more than 2 - 3 minutes), and allow maximum time for students to write; then share their work in a read-around, with brief comments by the Workshop Leader. The purpose of the workshop is to assist and encourage the students' writing. They benefit from active involvement in writing.

Workshop Proposals are due by mid-April.  Contact coordinator Maika Yeigh at myeigh@pdx.edu if you have questions.

Adult Workshop

An adult workshop will be offered for parents and teachers, conducted by Laurie Dougherty (Seaside School District) and Karen Johnson (Tigard-Tualatin School District), both past presidents of OCTE.

Student Writing Sample Guidelines

The general guideline for students' work is that it be a quality, finished product of their finest writing. They should bring writing that has been revised (based on some response from teachers, or parents, or other students), proofread, and put together in a polished final form The Festival is a celebration of the best work of our participants, and we expect them to bring work of the highest standards.

Students may write in any form or genre they choose, because the Festival is a celebration of all forms of quality writing--e.g., poetry, short stories, personal narratives, science reports. Writing should be school-appropriate to grade level--no gratuitous violence, language, or explicit sexual content.

Final drafts may be handwritten, typewritten, drawn, calligraphed, or word processed by their authors. The writing may be illustrated. Again, the main standard is quality.

Length: Up to 5 pages, but the reading aloud of it cannot exceed 4 minutes; longer pieces should summarize the rest.

Students should practice reading their pieces aloud with feedback from teachers or parents--so they will be prepared to give a stimulated, clear reading in their sharing groups.

Writing samples (bring 12 copies) should include the author's name, school and address, and grade.

Rick Hardt, Festival Chair

Student Registration Form available through School District contact only.

For additional information please contact:

Barbara Wiegele, OCTE


 Rick Hardt, Festival Chair


2021 Author Participants announced soon!

2020 Author Participants

Jane Kurtz grades 4-5

Jane Kurtz was born in Portland but spent most of her childhood in Ethiopia, which has become a rich source of her writing, as has living in six states before her return to Oregon. Kurtz has published more than 30 books--stories of family, friendship, immigration, community and caring for the environment. “I constantly think about writing and reading and what it means to tell compelling and zingy stories,” she says. The result is many huge awards for her “very likable, one-of-a-kind characters that dazzle with originality and witty dialogue.”

Roland Smith for grades 6 - 8

Roland Smith was born in Portland and as a young man worked with big cats and other animals at the Portland Zoo for more than 20 years. His work with animal rescue and conservation has taken him all over the world. Not surprisingly, his stories usually include animals. Smith has published more than 50 non-fiction and young adult books, and he has a long list of enviable awards. Among his latest books are Above, an adventure series that started with Beneath; and Mutation, which completes his Cryptic Hunters series; and Alcatraz, which completes his wildly popular young adult fiction mystery book series, I. Q.

Emily Suvada for grades 9-12

Portland author Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia where she spent her childhood reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. At university, she studied mathematics and astrophysics. And after some years at Reed College, helping students with their quantitative skills, she returned to her love of reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. But much more than that: She has published an award-winning trilogy about gene-hacking, books the New York Times describes as “unputdownable.” Suvada describes her technique as “peaks, promises, and bombshells” that make her books move at breakneck speed, exhausting but thrilling to devour.

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