Ooligan Press Statement

Ooligan Press stands in solidarity with the entire PSU community in calling for justice and accountability in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more. Black lives matter.

We commit to doing our own work to better our practices as a publisher to amplify BIPOC voices in a systematic and accountable way. To that end, we commit to acquiring at least 25 percent of our titles from Own Voices writers each year. We will begin this work immediately, knowing that publishing books is a long arc with powerful results.

For the time being, Ooligan Press social media platforms will be used to share BIPOC voices, resources, books, authors, and direct calls to action. We commit to using our platform in this way beyond the current moment, and to amplifying Own Voices wherever possible.

Write Around Oregon: A Quick Overview of Writing Conferences within the State

When thinking about a writing career, the first words that come to mind are usually not “conferences” or “networking.” While it’s a romantic notion to imagine authors holed up in cabins producing great works of literature all on their own, the truth is that the writing community is vibrant, collaborative, and surprisingly social. Writing conferences in particular have become an indispensable resource for anyone looking to stay connected to what’s current in the industry. Literary culture is constantly evolving, and conferences and other large-scale gatherings offer writers, publishing professionals, and other producers a chance to connect and learn from each other. Listed below are some of the great writing conferences around the state that Oregon authors should be sure to check out.

  • Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference: For writers looking for something different from the usual large-scale conference atmosphere, the Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference is a perfect fit. The Oregon Writers Colony is a community of writers that provides workshops, advice, companionship, and access to a writing retreat on the Oregon Coast. The annual conference is held in spring every year. This year, the 2017 conference took place on May 5–7 at the author-centered Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Check out their website for more information.
  • South Coast Writers Conference: Located in Gold Beach on Oregon’s southwestern coast, the South Coast Writers Conference celebrated its twenty-second anniversary in February of 2017. It is described as an “eclectic” gathering of writers of all genres and experience levels. The conference is cosponsored by Southwestern Oregon Community College and the Gold Beach Visitor Center. Organizers work to schedule this two-day conference each year during Presidents’ Day weekend, but keep an eye on the Southwestern Oregon Community College website for updates about next year’s event.
  • Terroir Creative Writing Festival: Sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County, Terroir Creative Writing Festival aims to build a strong local literary presence while also making connections to the broader writing and publishing community. With writing and publishing workshops, speakers, readings, and a festival bookstore, all those interested in contemporary writing are encouraged to attend. The 2017 festival took place on April 22 at the Yamhill County Campus of Chemeketa Community College; information about the 2018 event will be updated on the Terroir website once available.
  • Willamette Writers Conference: Because Willamette Writers is the largest writers organization in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that this annual conference gathers writers of all kinds—including fiction, nonfiction, memoir, stage, screen, and web—for a three-day conference in Northeast Portland. Whether a writer is new to the scene or a seasoned veteran, the event offers programming varied enough to appeal to the different stages of a writing career. The Willamette Writers website outlines the schedule in detail, but writers can expect to meet with teachers, speakers, authors, agents, editors, and producers that can advise them on their work and the writing process as a whole. The 2017 Willamette Writers Conference will be held from August 4–6 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel in Northeast Portland.
  • Wordstock: More than just a conference, Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival is a celebration of books, authors, and bibliophiles in general. The festival is hosted by Literary Arts, an invaluable hub for the literary community in the Pacific Northwest. According to the Literary Arts website, last year’s festival featured more than one hundred authors presenting at various onstage events, pop-up readings, and workshops. With food, drink, live music, a large bookfair, and so many events, Wordstock is proof that literary culture is not only alive in Oregon but flourishing. The 2017 Wordstock festival is slated to take place on November 11 in and around the Portland Art Museum in downtown Portland.
  • Write to Publish: Hosted by Ooligan Press—the student-run, nonprofit press affiliated with Portland State University’s publishing program—Write to Publish is centered around “demystifying” the publishing industry for emerging professionals looking to get their work out in the world. Though the event touches on the craft of writing and hosts various workshops and panels, the spotlight is on helping new publishing professionals, writers, and other artists learn to successfully navigate the publishing industry. The 2018 conference marks the tenth annual installment of Write to Publish, so attendees can be sure to expect big things from next year’s event. Write to Publish 2018 is projected to take place next spring in downtown Portland, but be sure to keep checking its website for updates.

As evidenced by the number of large writing events held around the state, Oregon’s literary culture truly thrives in a social setting. Beyond conferences, authors can connect with other writing professionals on a smaller scale through opportunities such as workshops, residencies, and writing groups. Even the most solitary of writers can benefit through collaboration, and the Oregonian writing community is here to help.

Did we omit an important Oregon writing conference from this list? Email the details to oregonauthors@ooliganpress.pdx.edu!

W2P 2017: The Final Countdown!

Write to Publish (W2P) 2017 is so close, but there’s still time to get your tickets—which will give you access to all of the panels, workshops, and extras we have planned for Saturday! Our vendors and sponsors have really stepped up and are offering a wide range of goods and services to everyone who stops by. The vendor fair is open to the public, so we encourage everyone to visit Smith Memorial Student Union at PSU to shop with some of Portland’s best publishing houses and services in one location!

One of the most exciting aspects of our conference is the Pitch to a Professional event in which you, as aspiring authors, get a five-minute window to “pitch” your manuscript to a publisher or agent. The publishing professional you are pitching to will provide you with feedback on your pitch content and technique, giving you an inside look at the pitch process—and concrete experience in doing so! This is an educational experience that allows aspiring authors to hone their presentation skills. It’s an action-packed seven minutes that often turns out to be the most memorable experience of the entire conference for authors. But there is a catch to this awesome opportunity—you have to purchase your admission ticket by Tuesday, January 31, because the limited sign-up list will go out on February 1, and it’s a first-come, first-served registration process. Further sign-up details and the list of professionals who will be evaluating your pitches will be introduced in an email sent to our registered attendees next week. Buy tickets now so you don’t miss out on Pitch to a Professional!

We’re really looking forward to meeting all of the aspiring authors who want to get an inside peek at the publishing process on Saturday, February 4, at Smith Memorial Student Union on the beautiful Portland State University campus!

A Game of Genres

It was my first day of a graduate level course, and I found myself staring down at the same question that I’d seen since I was old enough to read, what is your favorite book? Immediately I felt my heart sink and my palms begin to sweat. The question was no less impossible at that moment than it had been when I was younger. It wasn’t just the issue of having too many favorites to choose from, but also it was the need to make a good impression. I felt pressure to write down a work of literature like Atlas Shrugged or Things Fall Apart or Grapes of Wrath. These were all books that I had enjoyed, but none of them were my favorites. Instead, I ultimately went with the truth and jotted down my favorite fantasy and science fiction novels.
Since the day I selected Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman as a book report topic and was told to choose something more serious, I realized that in the literary world, genre books fall on a lower rung than general fiction. People denounce genre as childish and therefore inconsequential. Despite fantasy having roots in some of the very first literary works, Matt Sanchez points out on his website that “high school and college English teachers dismiss it as a popular diversion that lacks substance.” Horror and science fiction get treated similarly, although to a lesser degree than fantasy. These stigmas tend to cling to books of genre, causing many to publish in other fields just to be taken seriously.
But there are just as many things to learn from books classified as genre as there are in literary fiction. The Two Towers made me laugh for the first time since my grandfather died and taught me that even in the midst of tragedy, there is always something to smile about. Allegiance, a book in the Star Wars series about stormtroopers who defect from the empire to help those they had wronged, made me revisit stories of the Holocaust and wonder what it was like to choose between obeying the law and standing up for what you believe in. Death Gate Cycle made me realize that everyone is the hero of their own story, but the villain of someone else’s. The only difference in how these lessons are taught is the creative approach they take. As Sanchez notes, “The situations and emotions would ring true for the reader, once he or she got past the strange and unimaginable.” More than anything, the genre books that I’ve read are studies in humanity. They look at how the choices we make in our lives define who we are both to others and ourselves.
These lessons are often the same ones we study in other, more “reputable,” areas. The only difference is the lens that genre uses to look at the world. But I would argue that this lens sometimes gives us the distance we need from an issue in order to see it more clearly, making genre an invaluable asset to the world of literature.