A Little About Me…



I’m an essayist, biographer, fiction writer, poet, journalist, editor, teacher, and writing consultant based in Seattle, WA. Professor emeritus in English and Creative Writing at Portland State University, I hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in New York and a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon.

My essays, articles, short stories, and poems have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Tin House, Orion, Poetry, Utne Reader, StoryQuarterly, The Seattle Review, Image, Notre Dame Magazine, The Crab Orchard Review, The South Dakota Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Poets & Writers, The Writers’ Chronicle, American Theatre, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Carve, Inkwell, Portland Magazine, Portland Monthly, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Quarterly, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Oregon Arts Watch, The Merton Seasonal, The Merton Quarterly, and The Merton Annual. I’ve also contributed chapters to The Dictionary of Literary Biography; The Oregon Encyclopedia; Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers; and Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler.

My first book Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, published in 2015 by Fordham University Press, received an Excellence in Writing Award from the Association of Catholic Publishers and was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award in Biography/Memoir and a Catholic Press Association Book Award in Biography. In 2016, the American Association of University Publishers named it one of the year’s 10 best university press books in American Literature for libraries.

In December 2021, I was chosen to be the 2022 Donald J. Sterling, Jr., Senior Research Fellow in Pacific Northwest History. The fellowship, awarded by the Oregon Historical Society, will fund research for a biography of a prominent NW figure.

My other writing awards include two Notable Essay designations in Best American Essays, a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, the Oregon Literary Arts Leslie Bradshaw Fellowship in Nonfiction, the Daniel Curley Award for Short Fiction, an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, a Walden Residency Fellowship, an Image Artist of the Month selection, and the Kilian McDonnell Fellowship in Faith and Culture. During my teaching career, I received the John Eliot Allen Award as the PSU English Department’s Outstanding Teacher five times.

In 2017, I was honored with the prestigious Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY, and gave a keynote address at the International Thomas Merton Society’s biannual conference. In the fall of 2018, I was selected to be one of eight international writers in residence at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. And in 2012 and 2019, I was a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute at St. John’s University in Minnesota.

In addition to interviews on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and local radio programs such as Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud,” I’ve done podcasts for Poetry magazine, Late Night Library, City Lights Bookstore, and Urban Roots. I’ve also spoken on aspects of writing, peace and justice, and other subjects at many conferences, including the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, the International Thomas Merton Society Conference, the Building Cultures of Peace Conference, the Northwest Independent Scholars Association Conference, the Ooligan Press Write to Publish Conference, and the Portland Book Festival.

As a journalist, I’ve covered theater and other arts for the Oregonian and Seattle Weekly, reviewed dozens of books for various publications, published hundreds of freelance articles, and worked as the Asia reporter for a relief and development magazine. I’ve also served as editor-in-chief for three magazines, including Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and was the first nonfiction editor for the Oregon Literary Review. Currently, I edit and write for the websites WritingtheNorthwest.com and RobertLax.com.

In addition to serving as a mentor for emerging writers and a summer writing coach for the Collegeville Institute, I work as an independent writing consultant. My work with individual writers has led to the publication of numerous books, articles, and prize-winning essays. In 2021, I helped with the translation of the German version of Robert Lax’s 33 Poems.

Before turning my attention fully to writing and teaching, I worked as a wildland firefighter, lecturer/guide for European tours, and small-business owner. I’ve served on the Advisory Committee for the Oregon Book Awards and Fellowships, Portland theater’s Drammy Awards Committee, and the International Thomas Merton Society Board of Directors. I’m currently a member of PEN, Biographers International Organization (BIO), the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), and the International Thomas Merton Society.


To contact me with thoughts about my writing, queries about future appearances, or possible consulting on your writing, please use the form below.

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Olya Pimenova
Olya Pimenova
1 month ago

I created this calligraphic portrait of Robert Laх in 2022. used spencerian script. Initially, I planned to create a portrait using 4 tones, but for more detailed detail, which requires a similar format, I had to increase the number of tones. ARTISTICO FABRIANO paper, walnut ink, size 22,44х 30,70 in

Лакс 2  мал.png
Last edited 1 month ago by Olya Pimenova
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