• June 13, 2024
          Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam (Prelims)
          June 14, 2024
          Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam (Prelims)
          June 15, 2024
          2024 Bigfoot Poetry Festival
          June 19, 2024
          One Page Wednesday- June
  • Box Office

Our Story

For 40 years, Literary Arts has built community around literature, books, and storytelling, and the essential ideas and issues they raise.

Literary Arts is a nonprofit literary organization based in Portland, OR. Our mission is to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.

Literary Arts operates on the unceded land now known as Portland, Oregon. The Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Watlala bands, the Tualatin Kalapuya and many other Indigenous nations of the Columbia River occupied this land long before western colonizers arrived, and many continue to do so today. Despite attempts of removal and erasure, these nations remain a strong and vital part of our region. Literary Arts recognizes that this acknowledgement is only a small step in affirming the ongoing presence and contributions of native communities, and we commit to engaging with these communities more fully as we fulfill our mission

Literary Arts began in 1984 as Portland Arts and Lectures, an event series designed to bring leading authors and cultural thinkers to Portland. Now a Portland tradition, the series brings the world’s most celebrated writers to present original talks about their art, as well as the most compelling political, social, and cultural issues of our time, before one of the largest literary lecture audiences in the nation.

Portland Arts & Lectures merged with the Oregon Institute for Literary Arts (OILA) to become Literary Arts. OILA was dedicated to supporting Oregon’s writers and publishers through grants, awards, and public recognition. The mission of OILA lives on through the Oregon Book Awards and Literary Fellowships program, which honors and supports Oregon writers and publishers through fellowships and awards.

In 1996, we launched Writers in the Schools (WITS), which employs local writers to teach semester–long writing workshops in all local public high schools and several alternative programs. Today, our Youth Programs serve over 4,000 students annually through transformative literary experiences, from the classroom to the concert hall. 

Our radio show and podcast The Archive Project debuted on local NPR station OPB in 2012 and the podcast began in 2014. The Archive Project features the most sought-after recordings from more than 37 years of events. Each week, new lectures are available to stream for free. Episodes also air every Sunday at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific) on OPB Radio.

In 2014, Literary Arts officially acquired the Wordstock festival, a nine-year-old program that was created by the Portland-based organization Community of Writers. The Festival, renamed the Portland Book Festival in 2018, brings thousands of readers and writers of all ages together to share in and exchange stories.

In 2021, Literary Arts purchased a historic building at 716 SE Grand Ave., Portland, OR, which will become the new, permanent headquarters for the organization. The building will include a bookstore and cafe and is expected to open in the fall of 2024.

Strategic Framework

Literary Arts is committed to remaining a dynamic and responsive organization that will continue to evolve with our community’s needs and deepen our equity work across all our programs. The Literary Arts Strategic Framework will guide the organization’s decisions through 2022 and beyond.

Read the Strategic Framework and find a full Program Assessment.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We at Literary Arts recognize that a public commitment to equity is crucial to both our own growth and that of the Portland arts and culture ecosystem.

It is our hope that by addressing racial inequity in our community, we will create a space in which readers, writers, and youth of any and all identities feel welcome.

We commit ourselves programmatically to:
  • Define our mission broadly to include all forms of literature and storytelling.
  • Support more writers of color and highlight their stories.
  • Build a diverse, intergenerational audience for literature.
  • Create equitable access to our programs.

 We commit ourselves administratively to:
  • Create a staff, board, and volunteer base reflective of our community.
  • Apply the best practices and tools to ensure that the organizational systems are equitable.

In all of the above, we strive to work with humility and in collaboration with our community to be adaptable and responsive, and to better accomplish these important goals. We are committed to doing this work for the long term. 

Latest News

Stay up-to-date on our latest news and happenings in your community.

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Our programs create opportunities for readers and writers of all ages and walks of life to engage with books and stories. Join us and explore our programming in concert halls, in classrooms, in our community space, and on the radio.

Our Supporters

Thank you to our supporters! Our programming is made possible by support from individuals, foundations, and businesses.

View Our Supporters