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LitWatch: A new reading and writing year begins

In January, writers write and readers read and the twain often meet. LitWatch has some ideas about where and when.


The following quote from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life is my advice to you in this new year. With 2020 but a memory now, it seems only fitting to be mindful in the present—finding gratitude for all that flows from our ‘wells’ and following our joie de vivre with open arms, wherever it may lead.

One of the things I know about writing is this:
 spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, 
every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a 
later place in the book or for another book; 
give it, give it all, give it now. 
The impulse to save something good for a better 
place later is the signal to spend it now. 
Something more will arise for later, something better. 
These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.” 

It is in this spirit, amid the New Year’s resolutions and excitement of creative projects to come, that the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling presents its online workshop, The Writer’s Notebook: A Blueprint for the Day. A two-day, 11-hour-long creative workshop hosted by Street Books founder and Lewis & Clark MFA professor Laura Moulton, this course invites participants to consider the choices made when it comes to how we spend our time.

Laura Moulton will lead a workshop centered on the writer’s notebook/image courtesy of Lewis & Clark College

Utilizing journaling and notebooks as writing tools to generate new literary work, Moulton intends to create an atmosphere that invites reflection and release of old ideas. By creating “sturdy refuges inside the notebook(s),” workshop attendees will be faced with the opportunity to expel that which no longer serves a purpose for their year ahead. This workshop will take place over two separate days, once on January 23 and again on February 13, 2021, from 9 am to 2:30 pm via Zoom. 

A particularly poignant Annie Dillard quote from within the workshop’s course description reads, “How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.” This sentiment, I have discovered, is one of the most genuine lessons that I can take with me from last year’s series of difficult events, as they unfolded seemingly one after another. Whether we as artists and as individuals have faced times of trying hardship or times of metamorphic delight over the past 12 months, it is with great optimism that I implore us all to breathe a sigh of relief and reach to our writing utensils, for a gleaming new year has arrived.

Week 1: January 1-7

You Are A Writer: A Career & Craft Workshop Series
Presented by PEN America
Wednesdays, Jan. 6-27
5-7 pm
Hosted Virtually
Free Event


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PEN America presents a series of online workshops about the business of writing inspired by the Lost Angeles-based Emerging Voices Fellowship, which provides tools to marginalized writers within the LGBTQIA+ communities as well as people of color, women, and immigrants. In this workshop, participants will receive an introduction to four of the major topics important to launching a career as a writer.

Livestream Reading: Jason Tanamor with Grace Talusan
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Thursday, Jan. 7
7 pm via ZOOM

Jason Tanamor, the critically acclaimed author of Anonymous and Drama Dolls, joins Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers, in conversation about his new novel Vampires of Portlandia. This urban fantasy about Filipino folklore, known as aswang, is aimed to excite young adults and adult readers alike.

Week 2: January 8-14

Livestream Event: Let’s Dish with Carly Knowles MS, RDN, LD
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Monday, Jan. 11
7 pm via ZOOM

After living in a rural village in Peru, Carly Knowles realized that food truly is the best form of holistic medicine. After setting her path to becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, she earned a Master of Science in nutrition from Bastyr University and began working as a dietitian in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Join West Linn Public Library as Knowles discusses her new book, The Nutritionist’s Kitchen: Transform Your Diet and Discover the Healing Power of Whole Foods, a science-based guide to support optimal health and wellness through everyday meals, with The Oregonian food writer Grant Butler.

Livestream Reading: Lori Tobias with Laura Stanfill
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Thursday, Jan. 14
7 pm via ZOOM


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Lori Tobias will read from her new book, “Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast.”

Annie Bloom’s Books presents Oregon author, journalist and Oregon ArtsWatch contributor Lori Tobias for a reading from her new book, Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast. This book draws on Tobias’s long career as the Oregon Coast staff writer for The Oregonian as she witnesses the “rugged, beautiful place known for its dramatic landscapes and fierce storms.” Examining the decline of journalism in the modern age, the learning curve of living life on the coast, and the newsworthy incidents that dot her prolific journalistic career, Tobias tells a compelling story of “a land that many visit but few truly know.” Tobias will be in conversation with Portland publisher and writer of Sad House: Parenting, Grief, and Creativity in the Coronavirus Crisis, Laura Stanfill.

Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Featuring Christopher Gonzalez
Hosted by Christopher Lunda, Toni Lumbrazo Luna, and Morgan Paige
Thursday, Jan. 14
7 pm via ZOOM
$5 suggested donation

Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic is a self-proclaimed LGBTQ+ friendly, pro-science, anti-fascist, all-ages, uncensored reading. This month’s reading features Christopher Gonzales, an educator, journalist, playwright, poet, musician, and creative-collaborator based in Portland, Oregon. Gonzales has performed alongside International Slam Champions Saul Williams and Shane Koyczan, and his first book, water or bread, was published by Human Error Press in 2017. Email christopherjluna@gmail.com no later than 3 pm on January 10 to indicate your interest in sharing one poem of three minutes or less during the open mic reading. In the subject line, write “reading” or “just listening,” and you will receive instructions for how to join the meeting.

Week 3: January 15-21

Livestream Reading: Jack Estes
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Tuesday, Jan. 19
7 pm

Annie Bloom’s presents a livestream reading of Searching for Gurney with Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and essayist Jack Estes. Estes’s essays have been featured in The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chicago Tribune, and his new novel has been praised by author Tim O’Brien as being “tender, convincing, sometimes harrowing, and wonderfully written.” Exploring the lives of two United States Marines and one North Vietnamese soldier during the late 1960s, Searching for Gurney is promised to be a heartfelt tale of trauma and courage.

Week 4: January 21-31


Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon

The Writer’s Notebook: A Blueprint for the Day
Presented by the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling
Saturdays, Jan. 23 and Feb. 13
9 am-2:30 pm
Hosted Virtually
$150 general, $40 student

Hosted by Street Books founder and Lewis & Clark MFA professor Laura Moulton, this workshop utilizes journaling and notebooks as writing tools to generate new literary work while inviting participants to consider the choices made when it comes to how we spend our time. Presented by the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, this course will take place over two days and is open to students, alumni, and the general public.

Two Rivers Virtual Book Club
Presented by Two Rivers Bookstore
Tuesday, Jan. 26
6:30-8 pm
Hosted Virtually
Free Event

Two Rivers Virtual Book Club presents a special end of the year event. This month, the book club is BYOB, meaning Bring Your Own Book, where participants are encouraged to bring along their favorite book of the year. Each person in attendance will get the chance to speak about their choice and are even invited to bring a book they disliked about which they can openly share their grievances. Books of all genres and lengths are welcome.

Livestream Reading: Waka T. Brown with Rebecca Petruck
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Tuesday, Jan. 26
7 pm via ZOOM

Join author Waka T. Brown as she talks about her debut memoir, While I Was Away, with the writer of Boy Bites Bug, Rebecca Petruck. In While I Was Away, a young Brown must come to terms with the reality of culture shock as she is sent from middle America to live with her strict family in Tokyo, Japan. Her home life and school life turned upside down, Brown explores the meaning of ‘home’ and how to find it.

The Heartfelt & Heartbroken: Writing Evocative Love Poems
Presented by Caesura Poetry Workshop
Friday, Jan. 29
1:30-4 pm via ZOOM

This workshop is perfect for those of you already pining for Saint Valentine’s Day by mid- to late January. In The Heartfelt & The Heartbroken: Writing Evocative Love Poems, you will be led in a generative exploration of the many facets of writing poems of love. After analyzing poems from other contemporary poets and participating in hand-on writing activities, the attendees will discover unique ways to share their emotions of affection through poetry, without getting stuck in the sentimentality of their feelings.


Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon

Submit your literary events, workshops, and readings to the calendar. Send your event information and press materials to Amy Leona Havin at amyleonahavin@gmail.com.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Amy Leona Havin is a writer, choreographer, and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based multi-media dance company The Holding Project. Her works can be read in Humana Obscura, San Diego Poetry Annual, The Dust Magazine, The Chronicle, Mountain Bluebird Magazine, and others, and she has been shortlisted for the Bridport International Writing Competition Prize in Poetry. Havin’s artistic process is rooted in classical and somatic movement practices, non-fiction writing, and honoring the landscape of the natural world.

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