The Blue River Writers Gathering is a biennial gathering at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest intended to be an inspiring and restorative weekend for Northwest nature writers — a chance to meet one another, share our stories, give each other courage in difficult times, and find solace and insight in the deep streams and ancient forests of the Blue River watershed in Oregon. Our Gathering is a companion to two others: Glenbrook, in the Vermont hills, and Crestone, which draws writers from the Rockies and Great Basin, both inspired and originally organized by J. Parker Huber, Thoreau scholar and long-time editor of the newsletter Nature's Writing. We held the first Blue River Writers Gathering in 2006.
Our purpose is to take counsel from each other and from the forest, to deepen our sense of community with other writers and with the natural world, to walk, to talk, to read aloud, to inhabit that seam between the world’s deepest need and our own sources of gladness, and find ways to sow with our works effective seeds of hope. The invited writers all have two things in common — geography and grounding. We all come from the Great Northwest, from wherever the Salmon swim, from the Yukon to the Sacramento and deep into the interior, right to the edge of the Great Basin. And we all ground our work in careful attention to the environment. This attention takes many forms — from writing about environmental justice and decolonizing science to poetics about natural history and place.
Past special guests have included Ursula K. Le Guin (writer, 2006), John Keeble (writer, 2008), Sarah Van Gelder (editor of YES! magazine, 2010), Jennifer San (editor of Orion, 2012), and Kim Stafford (poet laureate of Oregon, 2018).
If you would like to attend the next Blue River Writers Gathering, please contact us to find out more.
A note about the 2020 Blue River Writers Gathering during the pandemic:
We have been hosting the Blue River Writers Gathering since 2006 at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest where we can hike among the old-growth trees, dip our feet in the cold creek, see each other's faces in the firelight, and linger in conversation around the dinner table. But this year is different. We are going to gather virtually on Zoom. While we will miss the forest, we hope there will be some upsides to coming together online, including making the gathering accessible to people who usually can't travel. We are planning an engaging afternoon and evening on September 26. We look forward to offering inspiration and solace to each other, even from a distance. Please email Carly Lettero for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Tom Jay Memorial Scholarship
Tom Jay was a long-time participant in the Blue River Writers Gathering, as well as a highly regarded bronze sculptor in the Northwest, poet, essayist, salmon restorer, wise elder, and a beloved community activist in his home of Chimacum, Washington. He cared deeply about words, language, and place. In his essay “Familiar Music: Reinhabiting Language,” he wrote: “We must reinhabit our language as well as our ecologies….Then our reality might once again resound with ancestral echoes and the myriad voices of the weather and the land.” The Tom Jay Memorial Scholarship will be offered annually to two writers to attend the Blue River Writers Gathering. Learn more about Tom and the scholarship.