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The Nature of Words Festival 

Where writers are rock stars and prose reigns supreme

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Anyone under the impression that every event in Bend involves lightning-fast athletes or souvenir beer-sampling mugs, hasn’t spent enough time investigating the Nature of Words, a five-day celebration of all things literary.

The annual festival runs from Nov. 7 through 11, with a packed schedule of events featuring authors, poets, essayists and storytellers from all walks of life. If attendance from previous years is any indication, many events are likely to sell out.


From bookworms looking to round out their reading list, part-time poets and bards aiming to polish their prose, and even accomplished wordsmiths attending to find inspiration and motivation—there is something for everyone here.

Because few of us can dedicate five full days—no matter how much we appreciate the written word—here is a guide to the don’t-miss highlights for every type of literati.

A WORD WITH ROBERT MCDOWELL

This year is the eighth annual Nature of Words Festival, but the first for Executive Director Robert McDowell, who recently took the reins from Nature of Words founder and local author Ellen Waterston.

“I think of the festival as our way to celebrate the additional programs we run over the year, and a way to thank our community for the support we receive,” said McDowell.

Other Nature of Words projects include Words Without Walls, a writing residency program, The Storefront Project, an after-school writing program for youth, and SpeakNOW, a spoken word competition for teens. Sharing stories makes a community stronger, said McDowell, and that is the overarching theme of all Nature of Words projects.

He stresses that writing programs can change kids’ lives, and hopes the festival brings exposure to the in-school and after-school programs.

“We work in the trenches and we work in the clouds,” said McDowell, describing the day-to-day efforts.

While McDowell is enthused about the line-up of award-winning writers in this year’s festival, he is looking forward to two moments in particular.

The first is presenting author Jean Auel with the Caldera Award, a special recognition for writers with Oregon roots. Auel’s Earth’s Children series has sold over 45 million copies worldwide.

Second, McDowell looks forward to the sessions with Michael Meade, whom he considers one of the greatest storytellers alive today.

Be a part of these Bend literary moments yourself by visiting TheNatureOfWords.org for scheduling information. (SJ)

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