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Words, words, words fill downtown Hillsboro

A vibrant literary arts scene is thriving in Hillsboro, particularly in its historic downtown.

From critique groups to writer’s forums and beyond, new events are catering to local writers, poets, playwrights, academics and other word-lovers.

“We are incubating a new generation of authors,” said Thomas Christian, a Hillsboro resident who also coordinates Westside Writers, a fiction critique group that began around 2007 and now meets twice monthly in the Reedville area. The demand for this type of group has grown so much, Christian said, that a spinoff group recently began meeting in the Hillsboro Main Library.

In downtown Hillsboro, aspiring and established writers, poets and playwrights have a host of opportunities to test new material, share ideas and find potential readers.

The Walters Cultural Arts Center at Fifth Avenue and Main Street hosts a monthly Open Poetry Night at 7 p.m. every second Tuesday and, at 7 p.m. every third Tuesday, a Spoken Word Series that draws notable speakers from around the Northwest.

Two blocks west, at Influence Music Hall and Gallery on Third Avenue, “Conversations with Writers” hosts a symposium on the last Monday of each month, featuring a particular poet, author or academic who speaks and reads and fields questions.

A block further west at Second Avenue and Washington Street, the Hillsboro Artists’ Regional Theatre (HART) launched “Page to Stage” last year as a showcase for local playwrights. HART will host the second installation of Page to Stage this fall, culminating in the production of one of the plays.

Another relatively new group is the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA), which is planning its first major symposium and conference for the Hillsboro area in February 2014.

Several energetic NIWA members live in Hillsboro and have created new events that are now staples of the scene, such as weekly “Write-Ins,” where writers gather to practice their craft at Primrose & Tumbleweeds, a restaurant and wine bar on Main Street.

Primrose also hosts the “Bards & Brews” series, which gives local authors 15 minutes to share their latest work. The free event, held on the last Friday of the month, features both indie and traditional authors.

Across the street from Primrose, readers can find a wide selection of local literature at Jacobsen’s Books & More.

Owner Tina Jacobsen celebrates local book launches, offers writer’s workshops, runs a monthly book club in the non-summer months and recently launched a “Load Local” program that lets readers upload local independent books to e-readers. Starting in June, she’ll host author signings during Saturday’s Hillsboro Farmers’ Market.

“We can grow more when we come together,” said Tonya Macalino, a Hillsboro resident, author, and vice president of NIWA. “There are a ton of more authors out here, and I would love to see them come forward and get involved.”

Others agreed.

“People feel a need to be involved in some form of art, even if it means just coming in and looking,” said Fred Melden, a co-director of Conversations with Writers. “There are a lot of ways art can be expressed.”



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