Friday, November 22, 2013

Portland Writers, The Ones to Watch

The high-fiving has to be hot and heavy this week as Portland poet Mary Szybist wins the National Book Award for poetry. The Lewis and Clark prof joins her predecessor William Stafford to claim the honor. I highly recommend reading this Q&A with Mary on the Oregonian's website. Her perspective is grand and angular.

Poets and writers make Portland a rich place to live. Between Powell's bookstore, scores of literary events and a thriving creative culture (not SUBculture), it's hard to go amiss here. I've been thinking that Portlanders are a practical people, but they also are seekers of the strange and thought-provoking. This place is their buffet. Need a person who knows how to write an elegy poem and speak Russian? Got ya covered. Want an expert on small presses who also writes books with pornography in the title (though not necessarily in the text)? Here's the guy.

This summer while trying to promote my book idea at a downtown event, I ran into an interesting fellow who'd decided to go to graduate school at Portland State, which has a well-respected program on publishing arts. He was a writer for a small magazine in New York, and he was remarkably candid about how New Yorkers and the NY literati felt about Portland. According to my acquaintance, there's a bit of jealousy brewing. As he put it, "Portland is the place New Yorkers want to go in the afterlife." Well, Big Apple types, don't wait until you're dead. Just get yourselves out here, find yourself a bicycle and snuggle in. Plenty of words to go 'round.

The Attic
Literary Arts
Late Night Library
Oregon Writers Colony
Willamette Writers
Independent Publishing Resource Center
Bitch Magazine


  1. I was so thrilled to hear that a Portland received the prize. It has been a lot of fun hearing the coverage from the award's ceremony and the awards themselves. I have a lot of new material to read now!

    1. Great boost for all us Portland word hacks. Oh, and I forgot to include the name of the book which earned her the prize: Incarnadine. Buying my copy soon.


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