The next deadline for submission
of a grant application is December 15, 2020.






Leanne Grabel to Receive the Soapstone
Bread and Roses Award

International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020

click here for full details.
click here
to read Like Butter: Using Metaphor for Personal Narratives in
Local Treatment Center Language Arts Classrooms

2019 award: Barbara LaMorticella
Click here for full details.


Everyone is welcome: women, men, and, of course, those who do not identify with those genders. To register for a study group send an email to, and a check made out to Soapstone, 622 SE 29th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214.

Study Groups Fall 2020

Because of COVID-19 all the fall study groups will be online using ZOOM.

Reading Carolyn Forché, led by Kirsten Rian
Eight Sunday Mornings, 10:30 to 12
Oct. 4 through Nov. 22  
via Zoom
$75, scholarship are available
Limited to 16 participants

Forché has been a beacon for voicing contemporary and political issues, and for utilizing her flexibility as a writer to relay her messaging and view of the world eloquently, directly, and every way in-between. From studying her seminal book on El Salvador, The Country Between Us, to looking at other writers who have inspired her with their courage to write about hard things, we’ll explore her style, and the role of the writer to witness and document in this tumultuous, beautiful world. The primary texts will be The Country Between Us and The Blue Hour, with additional poems, essays, and writings provided as PDFs. Participants will read assigned sections prior to our gathering and engage in discussions. 

I’ve worked for years in war photography, and with refugees and immigrants. I currently lead a conversation group with refugees and immigrants weekly through Multnomah County, and have travelled on assignment to places like post-war Sierra Leone to produce an anthology of war-survivor poems. I discovered Forche first through The Country Between Us, and her seminal poem, “The Colonel,” hit me then, and still hits me, with its brutal honesty. She pays attention to the world around her. And cares. And then uses her voice to try to do something about it. Her anthology Against Forgetting is a book I return to again and again, both for myself, as well as to reference for my PSU students. 

Kirsten Rian’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications. She has been awarded artist fellowships, grants, and international residencies from the Oregon Arts Commission, RACC, and elsewhere, leading creative writing workshops in locations like northern Iceland, post-war Sierra Leone and refugee relocation centers in Finland, using creative writing as a tool for literacy, community, and peacebuilding. Her newest book, Life Expectancy, was released in 2018 as part of the Pacific Northwest Writers Series through Redbat Books. Her anthology of Sierra Leonean poets and their accounts of the civil war, Kalashnikov in the Sun (Pika Press), is in every classroom in Sierra Leone. She teaches at Portland State University and was the poetry editor and a book reviewer at The Oregonian for five years. She has also taught extensively throughout the Northwest at places like Fishtrap, through Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools program, and workshops through Multnomah County and others. She has maintained a concurrent career as a fine art and photography curator and has coordinated over 350 exhibitions, and picture edited or written essays for over 80 books and catalogues.

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To be notified about these programs and those of many other literary organizations, sign up for our bi-weekly community email announcements that come out every other week with information about readings, workshops and opportunities for readers and writers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. If you only want to hear about the study groups, sign up here.

For a complete list of study groups, events and grants awarded, please click here to see or download a PDF.


Soapstone provides grants to support ad hoc events and short-term study groups that introduce or offer the opportunity to delve into the work of women writers. All events and study groups are open to the public. Events are free of charge; there is a small fee for study groups, with scholarships available. The application process is simple and the time between applying and notification short.

Click here for general information about the grants.
Click here for information about applying for an event grant.
Click here for information about applying for a study group grant.