First Draft Writers’ Series
Third Thursday of each month, always FREE

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Check out the list of esteemed writers who have headlined First Draft since 2013.
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Ursula LeGuin reading at First Draft.

The First Draft Writers’ Series brings authors and poets of note to the Pendleton stage to share new work. On the third Thursday of each month people who love the written word gather at the PCA’s Pearson Auditorium to hear our featured authors as well as three to five minute open mic readings by local emerging writers.

“Truly, [First Draft] was one of the best adventures of my writing career, right up there with winning the PNBA awards and being interviewed by Studs Turkel.”   – Craig Lesley

The First Draft Writers’ Series is focused on encouraging discussion around issues within the community, the region and beyond. Notices about upcoming featured readers will be accompanied by a question or theme the audience and our Open Mic readers are asked to consider. Themes will be inspired by the featured writers’ work. Past featured writers have tackled a wide range of issues, including domestic violence, preservation of natural resources, poverty, and gardening. Look for themes or questions here and our social media posts. There’s a special Facebook page just for First Draft. 

Looking for some writing workshops this winter/spring? Our pals over at Fishtrap have a great selection of offerings. Check them out HERE. 

Open Mic

While we love our featured writers, the Open Mic readers are really the lifeblood of this event. Whether you’re a professional, emerging literary artist, amateur or just get a burst of inspiration to write one thing, we’d love to have you read your original 3-5 minute piece for the audience. Up to ten people can sign up each month to share their work after the featured author and a quick Q&A. Just send us a note in the Zoom chat that you’d like to read.


Andrea Carlisle’s reading has been rescheduled for June 20.

We’ll see you in March for Bette Husted’s reading on March 21, 2024.

Andrea Carlisle taught fiction and nonfiction for the Oregon Writers’ Workshop and other writing organizations in Oregon and Washington. Her work has been published in literary journals, newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and by independent presses. Go Ask Alice . . . When She’s 94, her popular blog, focused on her mother’s aging, on the deep and often funny intergenerational exchanges between mother and daughter, and on caregiving. Andrea has received fellowships from the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. For more information, see

Q&A with Andrea Carlisle

Are there specific themes that run through your work? 

If there’s a theme that runs through THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN  it is to question our assumptions about old age itself and what our own old age means or will mean. Every person ages differently and so does every generation. So much of what we think we know about old age comes to us with bias. The book questions this bias, which we now have a name for: ageism. But the book is not a diatribe. It’s an invitation to look into where the assumptions come from and what they do to us if we accept them.

I explore what old age is actually turning out to be for me and for others I know. We’ve been led astray by images, especially of the old woman, in art, literature, children’s stories, movies, television dramas and comedies. The theme I return to over and over is the gap between what those images and stories tell us about growing older versus what actually happens. What is the truth about old age and what falsehoods about it do we need to reject?

Any interesting anecdotes that would give a feel for your point of view? 

An old friend and I met for coffee yesterday. We soon found ourselves immersed in a conversation about our mothers’ deaths. Hers had died recently; mine nearly ten years ago. We also compared some health notes of our own and mutual amazement at the passage of time. In this case it came up around the fact that her daughter is about to graduate from law school.

This was the sort of conversation I recall my mother and my grandmother having with old friends, and I was determined never to have anything like it myself. No “organ recitals” for me. No open grieving. But there we were, two women who had been young women together, and this was the stage we had stepped onto at this time of our lives. The surprise is that it’s important to talk about these things. It’s a relief to be open and inquisitive instead of alone and stuck in stoic resistance to what’s happening. These subjects are critical elements of still knowing one another, diving in to what matters. But this was not the whole conversation. We talked about books, movies, politics, food, travel plans, funny things that had happened to us, events we looked forward to filling our calendars.

My error as a younger person was to hear the conversations of my mother and grandmother through a filter that limited their humanity and the extent of the depth of those old friendships. The subjects change; the sense of traveling through life together – and all that life holds – does not.

Why should someone who doesn’t know much about personal essays experience your work? 

Because they give a very close-up view of a life and the questions raised in that life, personal essays can challenge and expand our thinking. They can provide comfort, wit and compassion with regard to a range of topics. They bring a fresh point of view, insight, and hopefully a depth of understanding on subjects the writer has had a chance to  explore, while the reader may not have had the time to do the same.  In that sense, they do a lot of work for us. They’re like having your own investigator go out with her tools to dig in to something you want to know more about. When she comes back, there’s a good chance that she’ll bring you what you wanted to know, along with stories to illustrate what she found and where she found it.

Coming Soon:

March 21, 2024


April—Rebecca Clarren (Zoom only)
May—Penelope Scambly Schott
June—Charles Goodrich

July— TBA
August—Joe Wilcox

This program is made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statement nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program. The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.






We’re proud of the generous support we receive from the Red Lion of Pendleton. They host all the First Draft authors, and are ready to serve you too.