“The most valuable part of the Workshop was that I got to live in a community of writers.”—Josh, grade 10
“I have learned that my heart is deeper and fuller and richer than I thought it to be.”—12th grader
Important note for summer 2021:
We are planning a special virtual (online) Workshop this summer.
During the two-week summer program, students will participate in writing Workshops guided by published faculty members teaching at the college level and, for the first time at Fir Acres, receive one week of individual one-on-one creative writing mentoring from a faculty member.
To better build our community, there will also be intimate conversations with distinguished visiting writers such as National Book Award-winning poet Mary Szybist as well as Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of the novel The Descendants, which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film. As usual, there will be a faculty reading, two community readings, and planned events outside class times, like an open-mic and other Resident Advisor-led social gatherings.
The Fir Acres Writing Workshop Program
Fir Acres Writing Workshop is a premiere, established summer writing program open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders who are eager to practice writing in its many varieties.
For two weeks, students join approximately sixty peers, accomplished faculty, Resident Advisors, and distinguished visiting writers to write and study fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction among a lively community of artists. What binds our community is the quest to find our voices as writers, to experiment as often as possible, and to practice and promote the habits of reading, writing, and daily artistic observation.
At the closing of each week, faculty and students gather for a community reading, where every participant, including faculty, reads aloud from their work. On three separate evenings, Fir Acres welcomes distinguished visiting writers to campus to discuss their work and meet with students.
Students at the Fir Acres Writing Workshop come from a range of backgrounds. In the past, Fir Acres welcomed writers from throughout the United States and international students from countries including Canada, Indonesia, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
As a member of our community, each student writer gets a preview of college life in an on-campus residential setting and gains writing experience in and around the city of Portland.
The Workshop Sessions
We understand the importance of a small, focused classroom setting. Workshop classes are intimate—twelve or fewer students.
Workshops are led by experienced faculty and informally assisted by Resident Advisors. Inside and outside the Workshop, students receive meaningful feedback on their work from their instructors and from one another. Through careful reading, sustained experiments with style and form, and robust discussion, writers hone their craft and develop their own voices.
During the two weeks, participants assemble portfolios containing informal writing, works in progress, and finished pieces. After compiling each portfolio, students meet one-on-one with their Workshop faculty leaders to receive comments and suggestions. Midway through the first week, students choose an elective to explore during the second week. Participants also contribute their work in a final anthology.
These portfolios, readings, and anthology provide opportunities for students to share what they have discovered about their voice and their writing during the Workshop.
The Fir Acres Creative Community
At Fir Acres, we aim to model excellence, creative experimentation, and fun inside the classroom and on the page.
Our local and national faculty, all authors, with graduate creative writing degrees, recognize the value of mentoring young students and the importance of encouraging each student’s creative energies. The program’s Director, an author and Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, also understands how the experience of working with generous faculty mentors has the power to change young lives. We aim to do just that.
For the 2020 summer session, our faculty—poets, novelists, essayists—share a commitment to investigating and teaching the many ways the creative process can challenge us and transform us. Each faculty member is excited to instruct and explore and write alongside students this summer!
Writing and Exploring Portland (and Beyond)
Along with daily Workshop Sessions, classes venture “off the hill” with faculty and Resident Advisors to write and practice “the habit of art” in the city of Portland. In 2019, class visits included trips to the Portland Art Museum, Powell’s City of Books, Taylor Electric Portland Street Art, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the International Rose Test Garden, Tryon Life Community Farm, and the neighborhoods of Mississippi Avenue, Alberta Arts, Sellwood, and Hawthorne Avenue. The favorite trip, among the students, was the day they explored, as a community, the beautiful Oregon Coast.