Metropolitan Youth Symphony Music Concert Rooted Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

Portland Book Festival: Our guide to four days of literary indulgence

Literary Arts' celebration of authors, writing, and books returns to downtown Portland in full force, with headliners Selma Blair and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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Book lovers shop the book fair at the 2021 Portland Book Festival. This year, the festival had added a Friday Night Book Market for readers who just can't wait until Saturday. Photo courtesy: Literary Arts
Book lovers shop the book fair at the 2021 Portland Book Festival. This year, the festival has added a Friday Night Book Market for readers who just can’t wait until Saturday. Photo courtesy: Literary Arts

Saturday’s weather forecast is mild and a little damp, and you know what that means – perfect weather to curl up with a book, or better yet, go to the Portland Book Festival and listen to authors, shop for books, catch a pop-up event, or hone your skills in a writing workshop.

The festival, presented by Literary Arts, has returned to full in-person programming after two years of virtual and hybrid virtual events due to the pandemic. 

“It feels great to be fully in person this year,” said Amanda Bullock, director of public programs for Literary Arts. Although everyone has their favorite authors (see some of our picks, below), “I always encourage attendees to be open to the unexpected and to check out authors and genres that might be new to them,” Bullock said. “Also, make sure you visit the book fair. It’s a really lovely place to spend some time and to get a feel for our regional publishing landscape.”

The heart of the festival is Saturday in and around downtown Portland’s South Park Blocks. The daylong event includes author discussions, writing workshops, pop-up readings, kids’ activities, a book fair, food trucks, and music. Programming begins at 9 a.m. and continues until 6 p.m. 

If that’s not enough literary fun, you can extend your bookish fix beyond Saturday’s events. On Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, Cover to Cover features readings, workshops, and hands-on events – most of them free of charge – at bookstores and other spaces throughout the city. 

Tickets to Saturday’s festival are $15 in advance, $25 day of event (free for veterans and age 17 and under) and include a $5 voucher good for the book fair. Eager book buyers with general admission tickets can get a jump on their purchases during the first Friday Night Book Market; for an additional $15, they can beat the crowds and shop the night before the main event. 

Two Saturday events – headliners Selma Blair and Taylor Jenkins Reid – each require an additional $5 ticket.

Sponsor

Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

Poet Matthew Dickman appears at the festival with Emiko Jean at 1:45 p.m. Saturday.

Among other Saturday highlights: Rafael Agustin, writer for TV’s Jane the Virgin and author of Illegally Yours, will join Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of The Man Who Could Move Clouds, at 12:15 p.m. in the Portland Parks Foundation Tent for a bilingual event called “La Familia.” At 1:45 p.m. in Portland’5 Brunish Theatre, poet Matthew Dickman, author of Husbandry, and Emiko Jean, author of Mika in Real Life, will participate in “Generations.” And if you’re interested in “Boys & Girls in America,” catch authors Melissa Febos and Hua Hsu at 3:15 p.m. in the Portland’5 Winningstad Theatre.

You can purchase tickets and view the complete schedule through the Literary Arts website, and check out our abridged festival calendar below.

Thursday, Nov. 3

Cover to Cover: In-Store Reading: Rosanne Parry, Trudy Ludwig, Mark Fearing
7 p.m.
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy.
Free

Cover to Cover: Poetry Karaoke with Mule on Fire
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Literary Arts
925 S.W. Washington St.
Free

Cover to Cover: Poetry Speed Dating hosted by Airlie Press
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Blackbird Wineshop
4323 N.E. Fremont St.
Free

Friday, Nov. 4

Sponsor

Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington

Friday Night Book Market
6 to 8 p.m.
Portland Art Museum
1219 S.W. Park Ave.
$15 plus general admission festival pass

Cover to Cover: Wild Rose: Poetry and Story
7 p.m.
3244 N.E. 64th Ave.
Free

Cover to Cover: “The Bookstour”: Literary Documentary and Bookseller Panel Moderated by Mason Engel
8 p.m.
Rose City Book Pub
1329 N.E. Fremont St.
Free

Saturday, Nov. 5

Actor Selma Blair will talk about her memoir, “Mean Baby,” at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Mean Baby: Selma Blair with Esmé Weijun Wang
10 a.m.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 S.W. Broadway
$5 plus general admission festival pass

Life Story: Jon Mooallem and Casey Parks
10:45 a.m.
Portland Art Museum, Whitsell Auditorium
1219 S.W. Park Ave.
General admission festival pass required

Food Is a Weapon: Ghetto Gastro with Gregory Gourdet
11:45 a.m.
First Congregational United Church of Christ
1126 S.W. Park Ave.
General admission festival pass required

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

Think Out Loud: Kate Beaton’s Graphic Memoir Ducks
12:15 p.m.
Portland Art Museum, Whitsell Auditorium
1219 S.W. Park Ave.
General admission festival pass required

Making Picture Books: Cathy Camper, Nora Ericson, Sabrina Moyle, Carrie Tillotson
3:45 p.m
Portland Parks Foundation Tent
1010 S.W. Park Ave.
General admission festival pass required

Sunday, Nov. 6

Cover to Cover: Voices Like Thunder: An Afternoon of Poetry with the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation
2 to 4 p.m.
Portland Art Museum, Fields Ballroom
1119 S.W. Park Ave.
Free

Cover to Cover: Tin House Autumn Workshop Showcase
7 p.m.
Tin House
2601 N.W. Thurman St.
Free

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Amy Leona Havin is a writer, choreographer, and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based multi-media dance company The Holding Project. Her works can be read in Humana Obscura, San Diego Poetry Annual, The Dust Magazine, The Chronicle, Mountain Bluebird Magazine, and others, and she has been shortlisted for the Bridport International Writing Competition Prize in Poetry. Havin’s artistic process is rooted in classical and somatic movement practices, non-fiction writing, and honoring the landscape of the natural world.

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