Sallie Tisdale named RACC’s 2013 Literature Fellow

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce its 2013 Literature Fellow: Sallie Tisdale. This fellowship honor carries a cash award of $20,000.

“Sallie Tisdale is a pillar of the writing community,” said Eloise Damrosch, executive director of RACC. “Her work is honest, authentic and clear, and she doesn’t waste a word. We are thrilled to recognize her as a master of her craft, and to honor her with this award.”

Tisdale has written everything from short memoirs to books, from personal poems to complex essays. She has already compiled a mature body of work which has appeared in the finest magazines in the country (The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and Salon). She has published seven books, including Stepping Westward which was named to two best nonfiction book lists of the West. Her other books include Women of the Way, The Best Thing I Ever Tasted, and Talk Dirty to Me. She has received various awards including an NEA Fellowship in Belle Lettres, the James Phelan Award for Creative Fiction and a Pushcart Prize. She has taught or presented at New York University, Northwestern University, Omega Institute, University of California-Davis, and Antioch University. She has also taught writing at prisons, elementary schools and churches. In addition to her writing career, Tisdale has worked as a nurse and raised a family. More information can be found at her website

Tisdale has been working for some time on a book about our reflex toward charity – what it means to do good, how one knows what good is, how many ways it can go wrong – in the context of a small clinic in Africa founded by Oregonians. She also has several essays in various stages of completion.

“RACC’s Fellowship will give me the gift of time to pursue this long and complicated work,” Tisdale says. Her goal is to write free of commercial or contractual demands over the next year. “The energy to write is powerful,” she says, “the curiosity to explore and get lost and find my way out again is as strong as it has ever been. What I need is time.”

The RACC Artists Fellowship Award, established in 1999, is one of the largest and most prestigious grants to individual artists in the Pacific Northwest, supporting exceptional artists who enrich the communities in our region. One fellowship is awarded each year, rotating through four artistic disciplines.

To be eligible for consideration, professional artists must have worked in their field for 10 years and have lived in the Portland tri-county area for five years. Applications, which include three narrative questions, artist resumes, two letters of recommendation, and examples of the artist’s work, are reviewed through a panel process of community representatives from the discipline being honored.

Dan DeWeese, Kathleen Holt, Karen Karbo, Flavia Rocha, and Elizabeth Woody served as panelists for the Literature Fellowship this year.

Tisdale joins a prestigious group of local artists who have been named RACC Fellows in the past, including Mary Oslund, Obo Addy, Christine Bourdette, Terry Toedtemeier, Jim Blashfield, Michele Glazer, Tomas Svoboda, Keith Scales, Judy Cooke, Michael Brophy, Chel White, Craig Lesley, Thara Memory, Henk Pander, Joanna Priestley, Kim Stafford, Robin Lane, Eric Stotik and Lawrence Johnson. All RACC fellows are listed at