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Women writers meet, greet in Hillsboro

Women writers are taking the stage in Hillsboro next week, sharing some of their work and discussing pertinent issues in the writing field.

Conversations With Writers, a Hillsboro group that invites writers to read and tell about their work and writing methods, will present writers from VoiceCatcher from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, April 28, at the main Hillsboro Library, 2850 Brookwood Parkway.

VoiceCatcher is a nonprofit community that connects, inspires and empowers women writers and artists in the greater Portland and Vancouver areas. A member of the Oregon Cultural Trust, the organization has six published anthologies of poetry, prose and visual art.

Monday’s event will feature three well-published poets: Carolyn Martin, Annie Lighthart and Darlene Pagán. In addition to reading and discussing their personal stories, they will also talk about the new world of online publishing, its advantages and disadvantages, and the need to adapt to it.

Lighthart was inspired to begin writing poetry after her first visit to an Oregon old-growth forest. “Iron String,” her first book of poetry, was published in 2013 by Airlie Press.

Her poems have appeared in “The Greensboro Review,” “Hunger Mountain,” “Cimarron Review” and other journals.

Lighthart has taught at Boston College, as a poet in the schools and for community groups of all ages. She holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Lighthart believes that poetry “gives what might otherwise be quiet voices a chance to be heard and understood,” she said. “I’m troubled by the fact that many women’s voices aren’t yet heard, aren’t yet valued.”

Though Lighthart appreciates the ease of sharing the written word through online media, she believes “there is no replacement for the beautiful objects that are good books. It’s my hope that books and online works can live side by side.”

Darlene Pagán, Ph.D., teaches writing and literature at Pacific University. Her chapbook, “Blue Ghosts,” was published by Finishing Line Press, and a full-length collection, called “Setting the Fire,” is forthcoming from Airlie Press.

Pagán’s poems have appeared in journals such as “Field,” “CALYX,” “Hayden’s Ferry Review,” “Poet Lore,” “Hiram Poetry Review,” “Lake Effect” and “Hawaii Pacific Review.” Her essays have earned national awards and appeared in venues such as “Memoir,” “Brevity,” “The Nebraska Review” and “Literal Latté.”

Pagán’s first poem was also about nature, albeit wheat fields, not trees. Her return to poetry was spawned by a 3 a.m. session rocking a colicky baby.

“I looked out the window and I wondered how many other mothers around the globe were rocking back and forth like I was, trying anything to soothe an inconsolable baby,” Pagán said. “I have a vivid memory of standing outside in the dark, and feeling a sense of community.”

Carolyn Martin, Ph.D., is president of the board of VoiceCatcher. An award-winning poet, Martin’s work has appeared in publications such as “Stirring,” “Persimmon Tree,” “Ekphrastia Gone Wild” and “Becoming: What Makes A Woman.”

Martin’s first collection of poems, “Finding Compass,” was published by Queen of Wands Press in Portland in 2011.

Martin said VoiceCatcher began in 2006 when a group of six women writers, editors and teachers got together and decided some of their writing and some of their students’ writing was as good as anything they were reading elsewhere.

“We started to put together an anthology to capture the literary landscape of women in the Portland area,” says Martin.

Following the sixth volume, it was apparent something had to change. The price of printing was skyrocketing and the group was burning out their editors. The women began to search for a way to save the cost of human capital as well as monetary capital. The first online literary journal was published in October 2012, and the group is currently reading for the fifth edition.

The move to online publishing has changed the dynamics and reach of the group.

“When we were publishing the paperback anthologies, we were able to distribute 400 to 450 copies, and that was good,” Martin said. “With the online journals, the first four to date have had 16,000 first time visitors.”

Those interested in learning about the move to online publishing, or meeting the poets, are welcome to attend the free event. For more information, visit voicecatchers.org.



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