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LitWatch November: Here Comes the Portland Book Festival

Other events include author readings from the Coast to Eastern Oregon, Anthony Doerr at Portland Arts and Lectures, and the reopening of Multnomah County Central Library.


The Portland Book Festival will include pop-up events in the Portland Art Museum, pairing authors with works of art. Last year, Brittney Corrigan was paired with paintings by Isaka Shamsud-Din. Photo courtesy: Portland Book Festival
The Portland Book Festival will include pop-up events in the Portland Art Museum, pairing authors with works of art. Last year, Brittney Corrigan was paired with paintings by Isaka Shamsud-Din. Photo courtesy: Portland Book Festival

It’s November, and to many Oregon readers that undoubtedly means Portland Book Festival time! The festival celebrating books, authors, nationally celebrated writers and local literary talent alike is back, and this year marks the first full-scale in-person event in two years. During the 2020 pandemic, Portland Book Festival went virtual and returned in 2021 with a hybrid event offering a partial-capacity festival in downtown Portland, in addition to online workshops, readings, and more.

The festival is back to its full glory with more than 70 authors including headliners Selma Blair and Taylor Jenkins Reid, who will appear Nov. 5 in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Organizers are also trying something new — a community event in the spirit of Lit Crawl Portland, according to the Literary Arts website. Cover to Cover will begin Monday and continue through Nov. 6 across the city at sites including Annie Bloom’s Books, Broadway Books, Rose City Book Pub, PNCA Gallery, Third Eye Books, Tin House, and Portland Art Museum. These locations will host free readings, book releases, and events, among them “Poetry Karaoke with Mule on Fire,” “Poetry Speed Dating,” “Write a Renga, Save the World,” “Book Launch for A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940,” and “Big Cheese/Small Cheese.”

Other festival events that should not be missed include the Friday Night Book Market (purchase an additional pass to beat the Saturday crowds and shop early for books by local presses); “Designing Women: Tayi Tibble & Shelley Wong” at the Portland’5 Brunish Theatre; “Intimate Apocalypse: CJ Evans & Saeed Jones” discussing their poetry collections A Penance and How We Fight for Our Lives, Prelude to Bruise; “National Anthems: Juhea Kim and Lidia Yuknavitch” discussing their books, Beasts of a Little Land and Thrust, in the Portland’5 Winningstad Theatre; and “Food Is a Weapon: Ghetto Gastro with Gregory Gourdet” at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.

Besides festival happenings, our calendar this month is full of exciting readings, book releases, lectures, and the reopening of Multnomah County Central Library downtown.

Week 1: Nov. 1-7

multnomah County Central Library
This is what Multnomah County Central Library looked like before its opening in 1913. The beloved downtown building reopens Nov. 1 after three months of renovations. Photo courtesy: Multnomah County Library

Central Library Reopening
Presented by Multnomah County Library
Tuesday, Nov. 1
Central Library Branch
801 S.W. 10th Ave., Portland

The Central Library Location is scheduled to reopen after being closed three months for renovations, including new outdoor public terraces, increased ADA-accessible landscaping, upgraded shelving, new electrical units, and more.


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Fishtrap Fireside Reading
Presented by Fishtrap: Writing and the West
7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4
Fishtrap at The Bowlby Building
107 W. Main St., Enterprise

Join Wallowa County writers Kirsten Rohla and Dustin Lyons for a first Friday reading presented by Fishtrap. They will be joined by Fishtrap’s Fall Writer-In-Residence, Liza Birnbaum. The writers will share prose, poetry, and short fiction.

The special Portland Book Festival edition event will feature (from left) George Saunders, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Saeed Jones, and Samantha Crain.

Live Wire Radio at Portland Book Festival: George Saunders, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Saeed Jones, and Samantha Crain
Presented by Literary Arts
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5
Alberta Rose Theatre
3000 N.E. Alberta St., Portland
Tickets: $20-$45; $5 Arts for All

In honor of the Literary Arts Portland Book Festival, Live Wire Radio will host a live event featuring festival authors George Saunders, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Saeed Jones, with singer-songwriter Samantha Crain. The event takes place the same evening as the Portland Book Festival, but tickets must be purchased separately.

Week 2: Nov. 8-14

Leanne Grabel, Brontosaurus: Illustrated reading, with Joanna Rose and Sherri Levine
Presented by Broadway Books
6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9
Broadway Books
1714 N.E. Broadway St., Portland

Leanne Grabel, author of the memoir Brontosaurus and new graphic novel Brontosaurus: Illustrated will discuss her book, which is based on true events. The story features drawings, straightforward prose, tales of challenge, and recollections of resilience. She will be joined by the author of A Small Crowd of Strangers, Joanna Rose, and Sherri Levine, author of the poetry collection Stealing Flowers from the Neighbors.


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Book Release: The Jew Girls Adventure Series: You Can Call Me Andy
Presented by Bubbelah Press
2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
South Beach Community Center
3024 S.E. Ferry Slip Road, Newport

Carla Perry, award-winning writer and founder of Writers On The Edge and the Nye Beach Writers’ Series, will be joined by Jess Bondy and Sarah Lou Heimlich to discuss their book, The Jew Girls Adventure Series: You Can Call Me Andy. The book considers topics of cultural heritage, current social and environmental problems, and Nancy Drew-like mysteries, featuring a loyal dog named Andy and the wacky adventures that ensue.

NW Authors Series Presents Ellie Alexander
Presented by Cannon Beach Library and NW Authors Series
2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach

Mystery series author Ellie Alexander will be featured as part of the NW Author Series at the Cannon Beach Library. She will discuss her bestselling works, including the Bakeshop Mystery Series, Sloan Krause Mysteries, Pacific Northwest Mystery Series, and others. There is no ticket charge, but donations to the library are always welcome.

Week 3: Nov. 15-21

Author Event: Brown Neon by Raquel Gutiérrez
Presented by Roundabout Books & Cafe
6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15
Roundabout Books & Cafe
900 N.W. Mt. Washington Drive, No. 110, Bend

Join the author of Brown Neon, Raquel Gutiérrez, in conversation with Kaui Hart Hemmings, writer of The Descendants. They will discuss Brown Neon, which has been called “a work of Latinx mysticism” by writer Myriam Gurba, author of Mean. Books will be available for purchase at the reading.


MYS Oregon to Iberia

Portland Arts and Lectures: Anthony Doerr
Presented by Literary Arts
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 S.W. Broadway, Portland
Season tickets: $88-$340

Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award finalist Anthony Doerr will appear in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to discuss his recent novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, as part of the 38th Portland Arts and Lectures series. Single tickets to the event will not be sold; series tickets for four lectures can be purchased via the Literary Arts website.

Week 4: Nov. 22-30

“Seaside Sundial Postcard, c. 1944” from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education archive (OJM02926).

Listen to the Past, Stories from OJMCHE’s Oral History Collection: Vacations
Presented by Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
Noon Wednesday, Nov. 30, via ZOOM

Center archivist Alisha Babbstein, Curator of Collections Anne LeVant Prahl, and Director Judy Margles will meet via ZOOM to talk about “vacation” as it pertains to Jewish Oregonians. They’ll discuss their favorite oral history clips and why they are important.

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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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