For Martha Gies the habit of writing began at age ten, when she unlocked a new green leatherette diary on the first of January and recorded the principal affairs of the day. Living isolated in rural Oregon, she soon found writing to be a source of discovery and a remedy for loneliness. It was two more decades before her work went out into the world, first as profiles of musicians and filmmakers and later, upon reading and studying with Raymond Carver, as stories and essays. That work appears in many literary quarterlies, including Gettysburg Review, The MacGuffin, Notre Dame Review, Orion, The Sun and Zyzzyva, and in various anthologies.

Photo: Owen Carey

Photo: Owen Carey

In 2004, Oregon State University Press published Up All Night, her portrait Portland told through the stories of 23 people who work graveyard shift. This book was selected by both Salem’s Statesman Journal and Portland’s Oregonian as one of the Ten Best Regional books of the year. Gies has received grants and awards from PEN, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Literary Arts, and Sundance Institute.

In addition to her literary work, Gies has contributed to Oregon newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, often returning  themes that have preoccupied her for years: the human cost of gentrification in Portland’s downtown; the methodical displacement of African Americans from their Northeast Portland homes; the media’s misunderstanding of the Black Panther Party, which was active in Portland for a decade; and the shame of Guantánamo, along with the “war on terror” waged against U. S. citizens. She has been a frequent contributor to Women’s Review of Books; for twenty years supported Portland’s local street newspaper with contributions of journalism; and was, in her Seattle days, a stringer for Variety.

Along the way she has taken great joy in teaching others--at Marylhurst University for twenty years, in the graduate writing program at Lewis and Clark for seven, and in Antioch’s Individualized MFA program for two. For twenty years, she produced the annual Traveler’s Mind workshop abroad, taking writers to Veracruz, Valparaíso, Jodhpur, Havana, Calcutta, Cádiz and elsewhere. She has also taught workshops in California, Montana and Washington, and regularly teaches two classes privately each year in Portland, Oregon, where she lives.

She is a member of St. Andrew Catholic Church, a faith community that honors diversity, and whose parishioners are committed to work with the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed for the liberation of all.

Copyright Martha Gies, 2019. No portion of this site may be used without written permission.