New York to Portland

by: Sarah Daus

Moving from New York City to Portland on a whim was pretty exciting but also scary. I didn’t really have a plan. I had been interning at The Overlook Press in Manhattan, and one of their editors, Aaron Schlechtor, gave me the names of people I should try to get in touch with in the literary scene once I got here. Through a chain of e-mails from different helpful people, I discovered Literary Arts.

In September, I began my stay with them, working mostly with Mary Rechner and the Writers in the Schools program. My first day, I rode in a car with Wally Lamb to Madison High School to watch him talk to the kids. It was pretty amazing to begin my time in such an exciting way, especially since one of my college graduation gifts was a copy of I Know This Much Is True.

During my time at Literary Arts, I was able to learn a ton about nonprofit organizations, and began to really appreciate how much work done by people who are so passionate about writing and reading. I attended numerous readings, from published authors to teenagers just beginning to crack open their imagination with writing. I was inspired by Lydia Davis’ unapologetic non-conformity, Turiya Autry’s fiery stage presence, and the passionate determination of Wilson High School’s ESL students.

After being in Portland for a few months, I decided to apply to some Creative Writing MFA programs for fall of 2010. So far I’ve been accepted at Naropa University and The University of New Orleans, but I’m still waiting to hear from my first choice, PSU.

Overall, my experience with Literary Arts has been informative and fun. As I  learned new things, I was also getting more excited about writing, and going back to school to work on my craft. The people here are wonderful and what they do is so important. I’m glad to have been a part of something so great for the past five months.