Oregon Cultural Trust

October LitWatch: Welcoming Fall

October is ripe with virtual readings, workshops, and Lan Su Chinese Garden's Autumn Poetry Series.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

—October by Robert Frost, published in 1913

Robert Frost. Photograph from The New Yorker archives.

Make the day seem to us less brief,” beckons American poet Robert Frost of the month October. “Beguile us in the way you know.”

October, as Frost suggests, is indeed one of the most wonderfully beguiling seasons. In the Eastern states, days grow short and pool with golden light. In the South, college football marks the start of harvest season. For Southern Californians, October sets the tone for cooler mornings beset with marine layer fog and 72-degree afternoons where pumpkins and palm trees line the streets, side by side.

In the Pacific Northwest, however, October is particularly magical. Each October morning shines through with a dramatic arrival, promising a wonderland of orange, crimson, and yellow leaves swirling overhead as a crisp chill settles throughout a city that’s ready to hunker down for autumn. From visiting pumpkin patches and picking up our last year’s knitting projects to strolling through Lone Fir Cemetery on All Hallow’s Eve, every Oregonian knows that literature is in the air when it comes to Octoberthe perfect month for reading books.

Whether you plan on cozying up with a hot apple cider or a pumpkin ale to enjoy your read, I highly recommend also grabbing your blanket, putting on some warm socks, finding a comfortable spot by the window, and tuning in to the great selection of virtual events coming up. For those who like to step out on the town for sweater weather in your boots and beanies, pay close attention to a few live events coming up in the next few weeks.


Washougal Art & Music Festival

Week 1: October 1-7

Thor Hansen, courtesy of Powell’s Books

Thor Hanson: Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid

Presented by Powell’s Books
Friday, October 1
5 p.m. via ZOOM

Hanson, the uthor of Buzz, The Triumph of Seeds, and Feathers, will speak about his newest book, Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid (Basic), during a virtual presentation hosted by Powell’s Books. This timely tale of the awe-striking and disastrous effects of climate change takes a deep dive into how plants and animals must adapt to survive in this changing world. “Brown pelicans move north, and long-spined sea urchins south, to find cooler homes,” says Hanson. “And when coral reefs sicken, they leave no territory worth fighting for, so aggressive butterfly fish transform instantly into pacifists.”

Miriam Toews in Conversation With Laura van den Berg
Presented by Powell’s Books
Monday, October 4
5 p.m. via ZOOM

Miriam Toews will be joined in conversation with Laura van den Berg to speak about Toews’ new book, Fight Night (Bloomsbury), in which a young protagonist contacts her father through letter-writing at the request of her strong and resilient grandmother. Written in honor of the matriarchs who raise their families, this story is a dedication “to all the women who know what it costs to live in this world” (Powell’s).

Ben Hodgson & Laura Moulton in Conversation With Omar El Akkad
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, October 5
5 p.m, via ZOOM

Laura Moulton, founder of Street Books; Street Books reader Ben Hodgson; and Omar El Akkad, author of American War, will converse about Loaners: The Making of a Street Library (Perfect Day), Hodgson’s and Moulton’s true story about their meeting, reconnection, and friendship. A witty, sometimes humorous, and candid look at homelessness in Portland, the book also acts as a do-it-yourself street library how-to guide.


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Week 2 October 7-14

Autumn Poetry Series: Doug Stone
Presented by Lan Su Chinese Garden
Saturday, October 9
2-3 p.m. at Lan Su Chinese Garden
Live event; masks and social distancing in practice
Free with Lan Su membership or admission purchase

According to Lan Su Chinese Garden, “poetry is one of the five elements necessary for a comprehensive Chinese garden.” Join fourth-generation Oregon poet and Pushcart Prize nominee Doug Stone for an ambient outdoor reading and Q&A as part of the garden’s Autumn Poetry Series. Winner of the Oregon Poetry Association’s Poet Choice Award, Stone has written three collections of poetry, including Sitting in Powell’s Watching Burnside Dissolve in Rain

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon.

Writing Characters Who Take Up Space
Presented by Literary Arts
Sundays, October 10-31
10 a.m.-noon via ZOOM
$190, access program rates available

Jaye Viner, author of Jane of Battery Park (Red Hen Press), will lead participants in an exploration of writing bodies into space in this four-session workshop hosted by Literary Arts. Using Amy Cuddy’s Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges and Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps Score, writers will learn new methods of presenting characters in their environments.

Daniel James Brown Photograph from danieljamesbrown.com

2021/2022 Portland Arts and Lectures: Daniel James Brown
Presented by Literary Arts
Thursday, October 14
7:30-9 p.m. at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Live Telecast Event
$29; ticket included in series subscription

Literary Arts presents an in-person telecast of Daniel James Brown, author of The Indifferent Stars Above and Under a Flaming Sky, at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Brown will be telecasting from Seattle, and participants will gather to watch him speak virtually about his work, including New York Times bestselling book The Boys in the Boat. Masks and social distancing are required as per county regulations.

Week 3: October 15-21

Sallie Tisdale in Conversation With Bernard Cooper
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, October 19 
6 p.m. via ZOOM


CMNW Summer Festival SB FIXED #1, TP, Top

Tisdale, author of Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them), will be joined in conversation by Bernard Cooper, author of My Avant-Garde Education, to talk about Tisdale’s newest book The Lie About the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze (Gallery). Here, Tisdale examines a world becoming increasingly overrun with conspiracy theories, misinformation, and fake news, in an attempt to find truth in the current American climate of ideas. Through the lens of reality television and CBS network’s Survivor game show, Tisdale makes poignant cultural comments based on her experience as a superfan.

Rebecca Evans and “If You Ever Meet a Skeleton.” Photograph courtesy of Green Bean Books

If You Ever Meet a Skeleton: Virtual Story Time with Rebecca Evans
Presented by Green Bean Books
Tuesday, October 19
11 a.m. via ZOOM

This event is for the little ones!–perfect for families with young readers. Join Rebecca Evans in a festive virtual reading of her Halloween-themed children’s book If You Ever Meet a Skeleton, illustrated by Katrin Dreiling. A funny and mysterious tale about a skeleton who comes dressed as himself to a Halloween night costume party, it’s likely to give your kids a giggle. Costumes and at-home dress-up encouraged.

Week 4: October 22-31

Maggie Chula

Autumn Poetry Series: Maggie Chula
Presented by Lan Su Chinese Garden
Saturday, October 23
2-3 p.m.
Live event; masks and social distancing in practice
Free with Lan Su membership or admission purchase

Lan Su Chinese Garden offers its second Autumn Poetry Series of the month, featuring Maggie Chula, poet of Firefly Lanterns: Twelve Years in Kyoto. Past president of the Tanka Society of America and poet laureate for Friends of Chamber Music, Chula is on the Advisory Committee for the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University. Having lived in Kyoto, Japan before relocating to Portland, Chula’s work explores the connection between nature and one’s daily life as well as the traditional art of printmaking.

Livestream Reading: Sallie Weissinger
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Thursday, October 28
7-8 p.m. via ZOOM
Signed books available with optional book purchase

Portland author Sallie Weissinger will read from her newest book, Yes Again: Misadventures of a Wishful Thinker, a comic, honest, and tear-inducing memoir about dating online as a widow in the 2000s. Exploring her experience with loss, her road to becoming ready to meet someone new, and her connection to her community of friends and dogs, Wissinger paints a hopeful picture for those learning how to start anew.


Washougal Art & Music Festival


Submit your literary events, workshops, readings, and book releases to the Oregon ArtsWatch LitWatch Monthly calendar. Send your event information, press materials, interview requests, 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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