Tucked away beyond a small forest in Tigard is a sprawling log cabin with octagon-shaped windows that overlook nine acres of rolling grass, a fruit orchard, gardens and a small marsh. Inside this magical house are two separate residential wings that meet in the Great Room; knotty pine walls and cabinets add to the rustic atmosphere.
Currently living in the house are two of the luckiest writers in the world: Patrycja Humienik, the daughter of Polish immigrants who is a writer, editor and teaching artist from Seattle working on her first book, “Anchor Baby;” and Sadia Hassan, an award-winning poet who is currently working on a collection of poems about girl children and women prophets.
The women are recipients of Portland Community College and its Humanities & Arts (HARTS) Council’s 2023 Carolyn Moore Writing Residency, which is the first of its kind to be hosted by a community college in the United States. The residency was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of poet and educator Carolyn Moore (1944-2019).
“The house and endowment are the single largest gift that the PCC Foundation has ever received,” said Justin Rigamonti, the Writers House program coordinator. “Carolyn’s legacy is truly amazing and already making a profound difference in the lives of PCC students. I’m so proud to be charged with carrying it forward.
“There is not a program like this anywhere in the country or in the world. PCC is all about accessibility, and a wonderful program like this would usually only be available to elite universities. I am so passionate about this.”
Before Moore’s death, she was planning for her house and land to benefit a literary institution and charged her trustees to complete the task, according to Rigamonti. A call for proposals went out, and a number of local colleges and universities applied.
A group of 13 PCC faculty worked with the PCC Foundation “to come up with this fantastic proposal,” Rigamonti said. “We didn’t have the infrastructure in place. The learning curve was steep.”
PCC made the winning proposal and was awarded the house and endowment. The end result was a program offering residencies consisting of three- to eight-week terms at the Writers House offering writers concentrated time to focus on developing a written work while also providing PCC students with the opportunity to meet and interact with them.
The writers-in-residence visit in-session PCC classes either virtually or in person, give readings for the PCC and greater metro-area community, and host small groups of creative writing students in the house’s Great Room. They also receive a stipend of $400 per week delivered in full upon arrival.
The first residency took place in the fall of 2021, and in January 2022, “Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani came here and kicked it off,” Rigamonti said. “We have had 15 writers since then.”
The program runs from October to June each year and is open to all community college students, with the endowment budgeted to last for 20 years. “And we will do some fundraising along the way,” Rigamonti said.
The house is a testament to Moore’s life, with photos of her on her world travels and some of her antique furniture and personal items on display, plus her love of octagons is reflected in such elements as an octagon-shaped clock in the Great Room and the ceiling in one of the kitchens.
“I like to think that Carolyn’s peaceful and generous spirit is still here,” Rigamonti said. “Carolyn died not knowing what a great legacy she was leaving. This has been a labor of love.”
Moore was born in a Marine Corps base hospital in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and moved around with her family while her dad Gordon Moore was an active Marine. When his tour of duty ended in 1953, they moved to Lake Grove, where they lived for six years before moving to the Moores’ hometown of Tigard.
When Moore was a teenager and attending Willamette University, from which she graduated in the early 1960s, she worked during the summer breaks as a sportswear model, waitress, movie extra and a wrangler at a dude ranch. She initially majored in math but fell in love with poetry and literature early on and switched to an English major.
But Moore’s interests were wide and varied. Rigamonti lauded her “interdisciplinary legacy as a creative writing, literature and critical-thinking instructor (she taught for 20 years at Humboldt State University, now California State Polytechnic University) with an interest in science along with her passion for social and environmental justice.”
She returned to Tigard in the early 1990s to take care of her aunt and parents, who were living in an old house on the family land off Walnut Street. The old house was torn down and replaced with the log house that stands today.
Moore wrote the prize-winning book, “What Euclid’s Third Axiom Neglects to Mention About Circles,” that was published in 2013; and a collection of her poems, “The Great Uncluttering: The Collected Poetry of Carolyn Moore,” co-edited by Rigamonti, was published posthumously as PCC’s first literary publication.
For more information on PCC’s writers residency program, contact Rigamonti at firstname.lastname@example.org.