Writing Program

Community Writes

North Coast Squid

Word & Image

Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize

Writing has been an integral part of the Hoffman Center for the Arts from its earliest days. We welcome writers of all interests and skill levels to be a part of our diverse and thriving community.

Our programming includes writing workshops, author readings, publications and a writing lounge as well as other opportunities for creative expression and inspiration.

COMMUNITY WRITES is seeking submissions to engage writers with strong ties to the north Oregon Coast.  Whether you live here all year or visit regularly, we invite our community members to write short pieces inspired by the topics below. Entries may be poetry, fiction, non-fiction or memoir and will be published on this page. There is a $5 fee per submission.

There will also be an opportunity for writers to read their pieces at periodic Open Mic events.

The current prompt for April through June 2024 is Emerge. The prompt for July through September 2024 is Pets.

Community Writes

Current Postings

North Coast Squid

The North Coast Squid, A Journal of Local Writing, was first published in 2012 in collaboration with The North Coast Citizen and is now published by the Hoffman Writing Program. This literary magazine offers local writers and artists—as well as those who have a strong connection to the north Oregon coast—a way to share their work in print.

Submissions for the 9th edition of magazine were accepted during June, 2023. The publication will be released on November 3, 2023.

Where Can I Buy The North Coast Squid?
The North Coast Squid can typically be found at select local and regional bookstore and merchant partners.  But get your copies early, as they do sell out. Net proceeds from the cover price go toward the cost of producing future editions.

Manzanita: Hoffman Gallery, Cloud & Leaf Bookstore, Manzanita News & Espresso, Wild Manzanita Grocery & Cafe’
Nehalem: Wild Coast Goods
Wheeler: The Roost
Garibaldi: Maritime Museum
Tillamook: Tillamook Country Pioneer Museum
Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach Book Company, Cannon Beach Art Gallery
Seaside: Beach Books
Astoria: Lucy’s Books, Salty Siren Bookstore

Or you can purchase a copy online.

Word & Image

Word & Image takes the Greek tradition of Ekphrasis — which is writing in response to art, and turns the tables to include art in response to writing. The combinations of word and image that result often reveal surprising new layers of meaning, and give both artists and writers the rare opportunity to see their art reflected in the work of another’s.  Writers and artists are randomly paired and have approximately six weeks to create new work. The paired pieces are exhibited in the form of broadsides in the Hoffman Gallery and also collected in a keepsake book, both of which are for sale. Word & Image is produced in even-numbered years.

Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize,

Winners for the 2024 Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize have been announced.

Astoria poet Florence Sage won first place with her poem “Goodbye: The Second Law of Thermodynamics.” Second place went to Marianne Monson, “Stillicide”, and third to Garth Upshaw, “Crocodile Rock.” Read the winning poems below.

All three winning poets will read their work at a special Hoffman Center event on April 14th, which will celebrate the launch of new poetry collections from Airlie Press.

The contest judge this year is Logan Garner, the 2023 winner of the Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize. He lives and writes on Oregon’s north coast at the mouth of the Columbia River. His first poetry collection, Here, in the Floodplain, was published by Plan B Press in 2023, and his work has appeared in the Elevation Review, Flying Island, the North Coast Squid and others. He’s currently working on two more poetry collections. 

Submissions for the next Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize will be accepted in January 2025.

Astoria Poet Florence Sage is current MC and a regular reader at the monthly Ric’s Poetry Mic in Astoria, a poetry event presenter, and recent poetry columnist for HIPFiSH Monthly. For 25 years she was a founding production crew member for the annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria.

Sage has two Master’s degrees and has been an award-winning daily newspaper feature writer-editor in Montana, an Oregon-licensed counselor, and most recently a social sciences and philosophy college teacher. As a poet, she has been the subject of several stage and radio interviews and feature articles in the region.

Losses have given her an interest in the physics of change. 

Her full-length poetry collections are: Nevertheless: Poems from the Gray Area (2014); The Man Who Whistled, The Woman Who Wished: A Polish-Canadian Story (2021); What to Do with Night: Poems (2023). All are at RiverSea Gallery, Godfather’s and Time Enough Books, and in Astoria and Warrenton libraries.

Photo Credit: David Lee Meyers

The contest judge, Logan Garner, commented “The collection of images in this piece, both elegy and love poem, hold up entropy as a mirror (or perhaps an explanation) for loss, aging and loneliness—topics we tend to avoid, yet which are unavoidable.  At once fatalistic and grateful for the present, Goodbye reminds us that, in spite of the inevitable—whether we can truly prepare for it or not—we are yet part of a greater, magnificent whole, just enough comfort to bear it all. I read this poem on a loop for several minutes, just for it not to come to and end. But, as the narrator so beautifully teaches, it must.”


The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Not solid after all, the rings of Saturn,
but gasses and dispersing
under the law of loss
to someday leave the planet bare
while already giant Titan speeds away
from all the other moons, oh Saturn.

Even Earth can’t hold our moon for good
as it inches each year from our grasp
until our only nighttime company is gone
and anyway the moon is shrinking now,
the surface caving in, as faces do,
buckling and crumpling into dips and crags
until the contours disappear
that give us the man in the moon.

But long before physics dismembers the sky
to leave Earth lonely in the dark
you will lose me
and I will lose you
no matter how much we try
so kiss me goodbye every night
while we can.


Little Frida Magdalena Carmen,
            How preciously you paint on uneven legs
            dabbling so sweetly with spider monkeys and parrots

Playing out your bloody fantasies,
            the pink of your painkillers, the orange of overdose,
            the leg amputations and gangrenous toes

How darling, adorable of you
            to trace La Llorona, murderer of children.
            For, of failed abortions and miscarriages
            How much can you know?

Of a pelvis impaled by a handrail of iron,
            Of corsets fashioned from plaster and steel?
            You, satin ribbon wrapped round a bomb,

You, dove chained in marriage to an elephant,
            whose night trysts with your sister bring
            children to dandle on your knee

Delicate mestiza flower,
            What can you know of art, trapped there behind an easel
            strapped to your bed in La Casa Azul?

Where you peer in that mirror,
            at a life lived while dying,
            dipping brushes into peasant clothing—
            huipils, rebozos and Aztecan legends

Paint with your own eyes and nothing more, my dearest darling
            Sketch skeletons and black angels to watch
            from the length of your four-poster bed

Use paint as a pain killer, oh precious one.
            And when you are gone, we will bury you sweetly
            beneath a girlish flag of communist red


Marianne Monson is the author of twelve books for children and adults, with an emphasis on frontier-era women’s history. Marianne holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts is founder of a literary nonprofit, The Writer’s Guild, and writes from a 100-year-old house in Astoria, Oregon.


Crocodile Rock

I remember when —
I remember when I was twelve
And danced with Dan
In my Grandmother’s basement

To Elton
Over and over
Plucking the needle off the vinyl
And oh-so-lightly nestling the sharp point back in the groove

We constructed hot-wheel race tracks
And played pool
And thought we had discovered the
Magic of music

I lost touch with Dan when
My family moved to Arizona
A thorny desert
And decades later, when I tracked him down

His confused grammar and jumbled stories
Of manic fixations and desperate lows
Were so different and strange
And not the boy I remembered

That I stepped away
And when he sent a card saying he
Was running for president
I sent him a twenty dollar bill


Garth Upshaw lived in Portland for 37 years and Astoria/Warrenton is where he spends much of his vacation time. His sister-in-law lives in Warrenton, and a dear artist friend lives in Astoria. He feels a strong connection to the river and the ocean and loves camping in Fort Stevens.

Connie Soper, “The Language of Solitude”
Karen Keltz, “Studying War”

Wonder Garden Poetry Post

Submissions open for the next Wonder Garden Poetry Post May 1 through May 31st, 2024.

Submit your work on the theme of “Seasons in the Garden” for display in the Wonder Garden’s all-weather, all-seasons poetry post. We seek poems that reflect the experience of the garden, not only in summer’s colorful bloom, but all year long.

Poems should explore place, environment, and/or the relationship between humans and the garden.

Poets will be notified on June 15th and will be posted for one month in the Wonder Garden, and on the website afterwards.