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LitWatch February: Love poems, Cheryl Strayed, and a return to Waco, Texas

Love is in the literary air at several readings this month, and Literary Arts looks toward spring with its announcement of 2023 Oregon Book Award finalists.

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Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett (soon to be Browning) courting.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

February is traditionally the month of love, and whether you prefer Shakespeare or Neruda, Yeats or Rumi, Brontë, Browning, or someone else (I’m partial to e.e. cummings’ [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]), there’s no doubt that poets say it best when it comes to matters of the heart. Love is among the universal topics for writers, and the beauty of the season is that love poems don’t need to be reserved for romantic love.

Love can extend to professional passion, or present as empathy in certain situations, as depicted in poet Willa Schneberg’s new book, The Naked Room. A collection that combines her experiences as a psychotherapist and as an artist, the book examines her professional practice and the inner lives of her patients, and comments on the difficult and dangerous methods formerly used in the field and the effects on those involved. Schneberg will be joined in conversation by local licensed psychologist Robin Bagai for The Naked Room’s book launch at 6 p.m. Feb 6 at Portland’s Broadway Books.

Poet Willa Schneberg will read from her new collection Feb. 6 at Broadway Books.

If you’re looking for something a little more participatory, head to Mother Foucault’s Bookshop at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 for a 30-minute reading called OPP, or Other People’s Poems. Anyone can participate by signing up day-of to recite a poem from memory. The only catch? It can’t be your own. I suggest reading up on your favorite love poem, but all poetry genres are welcome at this free event.

Speaking of poets, Literary Arts last week announced finalists for the 2023 Oregon Book Awards. In addition to handing out awards in seven categories, Literary Arts will honor poet Gary Miranda of Redmond with the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award. The awards will be presented at an April 3 ceremony in Portland.

Week 1: Feb. 1-7

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Love Poetry Slam
Presented by Roundabout Books
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7
Roundabout Books and Cafe
900 N.W. Mt. Washington Drive, No. 110, Bend
Free

If you’re in the mood to celebrate Valentine’s Day early, head to Bend for a Love Poetry Slam. Poems about “romance, friendship, heartbreak, passion, loss, or anything else the heart desires” are all welcome with a time limit of 5 minutes to read one to three poems. Advance registration is requested and can be done at events@roundaboutbookshop.com.

Week 2: Feb. 8-14

Author Jeff Guinn will discuss his new book, “Waco,” on Feb. 8 at Powell’s Books

Jeff Guinn: Waco
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Jeff Guinn, the author of literal cult books Manson and The Road to Jonestown, presents Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage. Guinn will read first-hand accounts from FBI agents who participated in the raid of the Branch Davidians’ base 30 years ago and discuss unfortunate decisions that led to tragedy on all sides. Signed editions of Waco can be preordered.

Live Wire Radio 2023 Season Kickoff
Presented by Live Wire Radio
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9
Alberta Rose Theatre
3000 N.E. Alberta St., Portland
$30 general admission, $45 preferred seating

Live Wire Radio kicks off its 19th season with an all-star group: Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things; singer-songwriter Margo Cilker, an NPR Oregon Artist to Watch; Michelin-star chef Iliana Regan, author of Fieldwork; and stand-up comedian Joey Clift. Tickets for individual shows and Spring 2023 Season Passes are now available.

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In-Store Reading: Tina Tau: Ask for Horses
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland
Free

Tina Tau, Portland-area educator, bookbinder, poet, and author of The Golden Tree, will read from her newly released memoir, Ask for Horses. In what poet Kim Stafford calls “a memoir like no other,” Tau recounts how listening to her dreams finally helped her settle down, stop running away, and begin to heal from her past. Tau encourages saying “yes” more often to learn about the compass of the inner self. Signed and personalized copies are available for preorder.

Week 3: Feb. 15-21

Grace M. Cho will read from her National Book Award finalist, “Tastes Like War

Author Talk with Grace M. Cho
Presented by Jackson Country Library Services: Ashland location
10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, via ZOOM
Free

Author and sociology professor Grace M. Cho will broadcast virtually from the Ashland library to discuss her memoir, Tastes Like War. A combination of food writing, sociopolitical examination, and family drama, Cho’s book invites the reader to find gratitude for the positive family figures in their lives.

Kate Nason in Conversation with Whitney Otto
Presented by Broadway Books
6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16
Broadway Books
1714 N.E. Broadway, Portland
Free

Kate Nason will read from her new memoir, Everything is Perfect. She will be joined by the author of How to Make an American Quilt, Whitney Otto. After discovering that her second husband has been unfaithful, Nason found herself in the middle of a national scandal surrounding her husband’s mistress. She learned to navigate heartbreak and humiliation in the public eye while her world crumbled. Through her memoir, she explores the role of women in media and society as well as how we all have the power to move on.

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Erica Berry in Conversation with Casey Parks
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Erica Berry will talk about her new release, Wolfish, a scientific, historical, and culturally critical examination of the bias humans have against wolves. The book looks at myths about wolves and tracks OR-7, a wolf from the Wallowa Mountains that turned into a local legend. Berry will be joined by Portlander Casey Parks, author of Diary of a Misfit and a 2023 Oregon Book Awards finalist.

Week 4: Feb. 22-28

Jake Bittle in Conversation with Monica Samayoa
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Author Jake Bittle will be joined by Monica Samayoa, OPB climate and environmental journalist, to speak about his newest book, The Great Displacement. Considered one of the first books to deeply examine climate migration and the individuals affected, The Great Displacement looks at how climate chaos and global warming are creating flooding, drought, hurricanes, and fires in Louisiana, California, and Florida, and what residents are doing to try to get away. 

Barbara Mossberg, a professor at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College, will give a short reading of her poetry on Feb. 25 at Tsunami Books.

Book Signing and Meet and Greet with Barbara Mossberg
Presented by Tsunami Books
2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25
Tsunami Books
2585 Willamette St., Eugene
Free

Eugene-based professor, author, and California Laureate/City Poet Emerita Barbara Mossberg will read from her most recent book, Here for The Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Imperfect, Live from the Poet’s Perch. The book is a combination of poems, stories, memoirs, elegies, speeches, tributes, love songs, cooking instructions, and more, and considers her adventures through California, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Amy Leona Havin is a poet, essayist, and arts journalist based in Portland, Oregon. She writes about language arts, dance, and film for Oregon ArtsWatch and is a staff writer with The Oregonian/OregonLive. Her work has been published in San Diego Poetry Annual, HereIn Arts Journal, Humana Obscura, The Chronicle, and others. She has been an artist-in-residence at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Archipelago Gallery, and Art/Lab, and was shortlisted for the Bridport International Creative Writing Prize in poetry. Havin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based dance performance company, The Holding Project.

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