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LitWatch Monthly: Mystery and Metaphysics

August offers a virtual poetry open mic, a mystery-novel release, and a lecture on the metaphysics of deep gossip.

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If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a hundred times: “If a movie is great, it’s probably based on a book.” While this definitely isn’t always the case, we often find that our favorite films, musicals, and television shows have at least some roots or inspirations embedded deeply in the literary world. From J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George R.R. Martin’s ever-popular Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) television adaptation to lesser-known gems like Ukranian-Jewish author Irène Némirovsky’s French novel Suite Française (an excellent film adaptation set in 1940s France featuring Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Margot Robbie), books have and surely always will be asserting their way onto the big screen.

An excellent example of television providing popularity for a book series is the Sookie Stackhouse novel series (The Southern Vampire Mysteries), more widely known as HBO’s television hit True Blood. What quickly became an eagerly watched program with a cult following was originally a twist on a classic vampire tale written by mystery author Charlaine Harris. 

Another Kind of Eden courtesy of Simon & Schuster

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 18, Harris will join featured author James Lee Burke to speak about Burke’s newest release, Another Kind of Eden (Simon & Schuster). A true Western love story riddled with twists and turns including confrontations with drug-addicted cult members and school professors, shady businessman figures, and gruesome murders amid idyllic countryside landscapes, Another Kind of Eden promises all the excitement, suspense, and enticement of your favorite gripping mystery. Register online to attend this virtual event, which is presented by Powell’s Books.

Week 1: August 1-7

Richard Zenith in Conversation With Patricio Ferrari
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, August 4
4 p.m. via Zoom
Free

Joined by translator and poet Patricio Ferrari, Richard Zenith discusses his new biography of the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa is known by critics as a literary genius who was seldom able to be chronicled by biographers of his day. His essence is powerfully captured in Pessoa: A Biography (Limelight).

Week 2: August 8-14

Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Featuring Leah Mueller 
Hosted by Christopher Luna and Morgan Paige
Thursday, August 12
7 p.m. via Zoom
$5 suggested donation

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

Indie writer and Bisbee, Arizona, resident Leah Mueller will be featured in the upcoming Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Reading Series. Mueller will read from some of her newest works, including Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press) and Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press). To participate in the open mic portion of the evening, email christopherjluna@gmail.com by no later than 3 p.m. August 12.

Joni Renee Whitworth courtesy of www.jonirenee.co

2021 LAMBDA Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices Reading Series
Presented by LAMBDA, Sponsored by Books Are Magic
Friday, August 13
5:30 p.m. via Zoom
Free

Portland poet, producer, curator, and founder of the community arts organization Future Prairie, Joni Renee Whitworth will be featured in this LAMBDA reading as part of the 2021 LAMBDA Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ voices. Whitworth will be featured alongside 11 other writers from across the country in this digital culmination of the retreat.

Week 3: August 15-21

Superdoom: Selected Poems courtesy of Tin House

Melissa Broder in Conversation With Katherine Morgan
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, August 17
5 p.m. via Zoom
Free

Combining sections from four noteworthy releases, Superdoom (Tin House) by Melissa Broder is “essayistic and surreal, bouncing between the grotesque and the transcendent.” Joined by Katherine Morgan, a bookseller and recent author of the chapbook No Self-Respecting Woman, Broder will discuss her new release along with her previous books Milk Fed and The Pisces.

James Lee Burke in Conversation With Charlaine Harris
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, August 18
5 p.m. via Zoom
Free

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

James Lee Burke will speak about Another Kind of Eden (Simon & Schuster). See details above.

Week 4: August 22-31

Nick Flynn in Conversation With Melissa Febos
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, August 24
5 p.m. via Zoom
Free

In This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire (W. W. Norton), Nick Flynn examines his difficult childhood, including the traumatic event of his mother setting fire to his home. A memoir full of self-reflection and difficult questions involving a therapist who tells Flynn his ethics are “the ethics of a drowning man”, this book promises an honest look at a truly challenging upbringing. Flynn will be joined in conversation with Girlhood and Whip Smart author Melissa Febos.

Jaime Lowe courtesy of NPR website

Jaime Lowe in Conversation With Jeff Sharlet
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, August 25
5 p.m. via Zoom
Free

New York Times writer Jaime Lowe examines the harsh conditions of inmate firefighters in Breathing Fire (MCD). During a time when “fire season” has become its own yearly weather expectation, especially in California, Lowe reports on the realities of life as a woman inmate of the California Correctional Camp system and what it’s like to “put their lives on the line, while imprisoned, to save a state in peril.” Lowe will be joined by Jedd Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

On the Metaphysics of Deep Gossip: Bagley Wright Lecture Series
Presented by Literary Arts
Wednesday, August 25
7-8:30 p.m. via Zoom
Free

Sponsor

CMNW Summer Festival SB FIXED #1, TP, Top

Presented by Literary Arts, Lisa Jarnot will give a talk about the New York poetry scene, sacred practices of urban mindfulness, and the “deeper mystery that is passed down as a liturgy of ecstatic connectedness.” Jarnot, author of Black Dog Songs (2003), Night Scenes (2008), and Joie De Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012 (2013), is a minister at Safe Haven United Church of Christ and a visiting professor at Naropa University, Brooklyn College, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Submit your literary events, workshops, readings, and book releases to the Oregon ArtsWatch LitWatch Monthly calendar. Send your event information, press materials, and book review inquiries to Amy Leona Havin at amyleonahavin@gmail.com.

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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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