Mission Statement, History, and Activities

OPA Mission Statement

The mission of the Oregon Poetry Association is to:

  • build and sustain a diverse community of Oregon poets
  • provide Oregon poets opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from one another
  • further the appreciation of poetry throughout the state
  • raise awareness of Oregon poets.

OPA History

Founded in 1956, the Oregon Poetry Association (OPA) OPA is Oregon’s oldest literary organization, and with over 350 members, we are Oregon’s largest literary organization. OPA was a state-wide outgrowth of Portland’s Verseweavers Poetry Society, which was founded in 1936. The OPA constitution and by-laws were created in April of 1956, and the first annual meeting was held in April of 1957.

David Hedges, who was OPA President from 1982-1983 and 1997-2002, revitalized the organization during his second term. He initiated the Student Poetry Contest, Poetry Day readings at book stores, and the Family Poetry Workshop Project. He was instrumental in the society’s success.

In 2011 our name changed from the Oregon State Poetry Assocation (OSPA) to the Oregon Poetry Assocation (OPA).

OPA Members

We welcome all poets, regardless of publishing history, academic background, and writing experience. Our membership includes winners of the Oregon Book Award (Ingrid Wendt, Willa Schneberg, Penelope Schott and Judith Montgomery), Pushcart Prize nominees, Academy of American Poets award winners, journal editors, and small press editors, as well as beginning poets, poets with a recent first chapbook publication, and experienced poets with no publication history. Our past board members include former Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford, and the current Oregon Poet Laureate, Paulann Petersen, is an OPA member. Our members reflect the variety of poetry writing in Oregon.

For membership information, visit our Membership page.

Contests

  • OPA sponsors annual spring and fall adult poetry contests (entry fee discounted for members), and a free annual poetry contest for children (K-12)
  • The student contest culminates in a student awards ceremony which includes readings by the winners and a reception for the young poets and their guests
  • Winning students receive a certificate, a monetary prize, and a copy of Cascadia which contains the winning poets’ poems
  • The adult contests include monetary prizes for placed winners, and a copy of Verseweavers which contains the winning poets’ poems (published the year following the spring/fall contests). The contests always include a category just for New Poets (those poets who have never before received a monetary award for their poetry)

Conferences

  • OPA hosts an annual conference each fall at a variety of Oregon locations. The conference includes a variety of sessions related to poetry, a membership meeting, and a luncheon
  • Conferences are open to OPA members and non-members; registration is discounted for members
  • Session leaders at OPA conferences include visiting and local poets
  • Conferences include readings by OPA contest winners and an open mic or two

Units

  • OPA supports regional units which host a variety of activities
  • Unit activities include critique groups, hosting visiting poets, visiting local schools, and doing readings in their areas
  • See our Contacts page to locate a unit

Activities

  • OPA has partnered with the Oregon State Library in establishing and maintaining the Oregon Poetry Collection now held at University of Oregon’s Knight Library, and now containing over 1,100 titles
  • OPA publishes Verseweavers, which contains poems from the adult contests, and Cascadia, which publishes the winning poems from the annual student contest