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LitWatch May: Thich Nhat Hanh disciple Cuong Lu visits Broadway Books

Tom Hanks comes to Portland to talk about his first novel, poet Jessica Mehta heads to Cannon Beach, and Oregon Book Award recipients go on tour.

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“If you think you have nothing to give, it isn’t true. Be generous. No one is too poor to give.”Cuong Lu, from “Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair”

After witnessing a horrific shooting while fleeing his home in Vietnam, Buddhist scholar and author Cuong Lu decided to dedicate his life to peace and the service of others. In 1993, he was ordained a Zen Buddhist monk at Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery in southwest France after studying as his 18th disciple. In 2000, Lu was recognized as a teacher in the Lieu Quan line of the Linji School of Zen Buddhism before founding the Mind Only School, an institution in the Netherlands that focuses on teaching Buddhist philosophy and psychology, combining Yogachara Buddhism with the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) School of Nagarjuna.

In 2018, Lu wrote his first book, The Buddha in Jail: Restoring Lives, Finding Hope and Freedom, sharing his experience working with prisoners as a prison chaplain. Three years later, he released Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair, a humble guide to finding stillness, silence, and connection. In his newest book, Happiness Is Overrated: Simple Lessons on Finding Meaning in Each Moment, Lu uses vignettes of his life as Thich Nhat Hanh’s student to help readers discover mindfulness and realize meaning in every moment.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, Lu will appear at Broadway Books to read from his newest release joined by Brian Lindstrom, Portland-based documentary filmmaker and director of Finding Normal and Lost Angel: The Genius of Judee Sill.

Week 1: May 1-7

Portland writer Jan Baross will read from “Bye-Bye Bakersfieldon May 4.

Reading: Jan Baross: “Bye-Bye Bakersfield”
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Thursday, May 4
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland
Free

Jan Baross moved to Bakersfield, Calif., with her family during the 1950s when she was a young girl. Upon their arrival, Baross’ mother instructed her not to tell anyone their political persuasion, and especially never tell anyone that her family was Jewish. Baross’ newest novel, Bye Bye Bakersfield, deals with these issues through humor and wit, following a young Jewish girl coming of age as an outsider in a town where being different was not necessarily seen as a good thing.

Sponsor

Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon

Peter Wohlleben in Conversation With Dave Miller
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Friday, May 5
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees, returns with his newest book critiquing and exposing the sectors in charge of forestry management and the exploitation of old growth forests. The Power of Trees focuses on the devastating effects of forest mismanagement and warns that cut-and-plant schemes could damage important ecosystems for plants, animals, and humans. Wohlleben will speak with Dave Miller, host of OPB’s Think Out Loud.

Week 2: May 8-14

David Schmader: “Filmlandia!”
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Friday, May 12
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton
Free

David Schmader, author, culture writer, and film connoisseur, has compiled more 200 short pieces and essays to create Filmlandia!, a book about the film culture of the Pacific Northwest. Illustrated by Ashod Simonian, Filmlandia! takes a look at iconic TV and movie moments, from Twin Peaks and Portlandia! to works by Gus Van Sant and Lynn Shelton, created in Seattle, Portland, and surrounding areas.

Dan Kaplan and Mary Rechner
Presented by Mother Foucault’s Bookshop
7 p.m. Saturday, May 13
Mother Foucault’s Bookshop
523 S.E. Morrison St., Portland
Free

Dan Kaplan, Portland-based poet and editor of Burnside Review Press, will read from 2.4.18, an erasure of the Feb. 4, 2018, edition of The New York Times. He will be joined by Mary Rechner, author of the novella The Opposite of Wow and the forthcoming Marrying Friends.

Sponsor

Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon

NW Authors Series Presents Jessica Mehta
Presented by Cannon Beach Library
2 p.m. Saturday, May 13
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock, Cannon Beach
Free

Jessica Doe (née Mehta, Tyner), poet, multi-disciplinary artist, and Fulbright Senior Scholar, will appear at the Cannon Beach Library as part of the 2023 NW Authors Series. Mehta, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, will read her poetry and discuss her doctoral work focused on eating disorders in female poetry. She will also discuss how “space, place, and ancestry” fuel her practice and how “decolonization on a global scale” is a large focus of her latest work. The reading is a hybrid event: Participants can attend live or online at www.cannonbeachlibrary.org.

Week 3: May 15-21

Reading: Margaret Chula and Marilyn Stablein
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 16
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland
Free

Margaret Chula, author of 14 collections of poetry, will read from her newest collection, Firefly Lanterns: Twelve Years in Kyoto. The book, composed of prose and haiku, is a homage to Japanese history and Chula’s time living in Japan. Chula will be joined by Marilyn Stablein, teacher and author of 13 books, reading from Houseboat on the Ganges: Letters from India & Nepal, 1966-1972. The book chronicles Stablein’s experiences traveling across India, Nepal, and Tibet during the ‘60s and ‘70s and the spiritual and life lessons she learned along the way. 

Tom Hanks in Conversation
Presented by Literary Arts
7:30 p.m Thursday, May 18
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 S.W. Broadway St., Portland
$90 plus fees

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Coriolanus Portland Oregon

Superstar Tom Hanks talk about his first novel, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, with novelist and screenwriter Jon Raymond. The book is about making a multimillion-dollar superhero movie, the comic book that inspired it, and the effects of World War II on America. The ticket price includes a copy of the book.

Slamlandia
Presented by Literary Arts
7 p.m. Thursday, May 18
Literary Arts
925 S.W. Washington St., Portland
Free

Slamlandia, the monthly open-mic poetry reading, is open to both experienced and novice poets and will be hosted by Julia Gaskill, poet and co-creator of the Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam.

Week 4: May 22-31

Oregon Book Awards Author Tour: Sindya Bhanoo and Eric Tran
Presented by Literary Arts and Corvallis-Benton County Public Library
6 p.m. Tuesday, May 23
Corvallis Public Library
559 N.W. Monroe Ave., Corvallis
Free

The 2023 Oregon Book Awards are heading on tour. Sindya Bhanoo, winner of the 2023 Ken Kesey Award for Fiction for Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, and Eric Tran, winner of the 2023 Stafford/Hall prize for Poetry for Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke, will read from their award-winning works at the Corvallis Public Library. After the reading, the authors will participate in an audience Q&A.

Reading: Laura Read and Emily Kendal Frey
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Thursday, May 25
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland
Free

Sponsor

Portland Opera Puccini in Concert Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon

Laura Read, Seattle-based poet and former poet laureate of Spokane, will read from her newest collection, But She Is Also Jane. The poems explore the everyday lives of women, aging, sexism, and nostalgia. Read will be joined by Emily Kendal Frey, a Portland-based psychotherapist and author of Lovability, an emotional dialogue of freedom and inner self.

Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander will visit Powell’s Books on May 30.

Kwame Alexander in Conversation with Gregory Gourdet
Presented by Powell’s Books
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland
Free

Kwame Alexander, Newbery Medalist and author of Why Fathers Cry at Night, will read from his experimental new memoir. The non-traditional collection of poems, recipes, prose, and letters comprises a whirlwind of family, marriage, relationships, recklessness, hopes, and love. Alexander will be joined by Gregory Gourdet, chef and founder of Portland Haitian restaurant Kann and author of Everyone’s Table.

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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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Portland Opera Puccini in Concert Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon
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