Tracy Daugherty

Local literary talent blooms in ‘Paper Gardens 2019’

More than 50 Yamhill County writers of poetry and prose are featured in the collection that recently hit bookstore and library shelves

Over the past couple of decades, Yamhill County writers and arts advocates have developed an infrastructure to assist their own, and the most visible of those efforts — a published volume of local prose and poetry — recently hit the shelves in libraries and bookstores.

Paper Gardens 2019 is a 116-page collection featuring work by more than 50 writers of all ages. They were among hundreds who submitted work in the categories of traditional poetry, free verse, haiku, fiction, and nonfiction. Two professional judges (one for poetry, one for prose) narrowed the field, and the book featuring their selections was released at a ceremony at the Chehalem Cultural Center earlier this year.

More so than live theater, music, or visual art, a region’s literary scene can be tough to track. The work is produced largely in isolation, often by those who are disinclined to call attention to themselves, and only a few of whom reach a level where the resources of a major publisher or magazine are brought to bear in nudging an author’s work into full public view.

The Arts Alliance of Yamhill County has published Paper Gardens 2019, featuring the prose and verse of more than 50 Yamhill County residents. The cover art is by Jeanne Cuddeford.
The Arts Alliance of Yamhill County has published “Paper Gardens 2019,” featuring the prose and verse of more than 50 Yamhill County residents. The cover art is by Jeanne Cuddeford. Photo by: David Bates

Paper Gardens, sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County and made possible with sponsorships by McMinnville Kiwanis and McMinnville Noon Rotary, has (with other events) helped raise the visibility of such writers.


The Magic Barrel: A reading to fight hunger

In Corvallis, the writers gathered to read their work to help Linn Benton Food Share


There are plenty of good reasons to go along to The Magic Barrel, an evening of readings from Oregon writers that takes place in Corvallis every October. There’s the worthy cause, of course, with all the evening’s proceeds going to raise money for Linn Benton Food Share. There’s also the high quality of readers, which this year includes Corvallis resident Tracy Daugherty, whose recent Joan Didion biography has been rave-reviewed in the national press. Then there’s the venue, the Whiteside Theatre, a Corvallis gem from the 1920s with Italian Renaissance décor intact. But the kicker for me is that it’s billed  as “the Mid-Willamette Valley’s premier literary event,” and any claim that manages to be at once grand and endearingly modest is one I’m going to want to check out.


Taking the stage on Friday October 23rd in front of a packed house, the host for the night is Elena Passarello, an essayist and OSU professor quickly making a name for herself as the most edgy and provocative literary emcee in the Willamette Valley. Earlier in the day Elena tweeted, “I just jury-rigged a brassiere to fit a roll of calculator tape for my opening monologue @magicbarrelread tonight. So yeah. I’m going HAM.”