David Abel

No news like good news

ArtsWatch Weekly: I Am MORE, Broadway Rose's 'Story of My Life,' PDX Jazz Fest, art around Oregon.

A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO MY FRIEND (AND OCCASIONAL ARTSWATCH CONTRIBUTOR) STEPHEN RUTLEDGE, who writes the Born This Day column and other stories for The WOW Report, sent along a YouTube link to an old clip of Sam Cooke singing Good News on American Bandstand. Along with the link he sent high praise for the recent movie One Night in Miami, a fictional imagining of an actual meeting in a Miami hotel in 1964 of Cooke, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and football star Jim Brown to celebrate Ali’s heavyweight-championship victory over Sonny Liston. Rutledge’s note reminded me that, yes, even in traumatic times there is good news, it’s worth singing about, and its triumphs so often are the result of hard creative work and leaps of the imagination.
 

S. Renee Mitchell (left) and, from left, Jeanette Mmunga, Justice English and Johana Amani of I Am MORE.

In Building Resiliency with the Arts, the latest chapter in our occasional series The Art of Learning, Brett Campbell relates another story of Good News, one with deep Portland roots. The poet, activist, and former Oregonian newspaper columnist S. Renee Mitchell, he writes, “had been recruited to Roosevelt High School to teach journalism. But she also helped mentor students with their personal issues; brought in fruit, day-old bagels and cream cheese; revived the Black Student Union; created a Black Girl Magic Club, and invited in community members to perform, speak, encourage and share their wisdom with the school’s low-income students.”

Continues…

Poets helping dancers: It’s one of the benefits

A Poet’s Benefit for Linda Austin’s Performance Works Northwest celebrates 20 years of dance and literature

“Beneath the ivy are the brambles / beneath the brambles are the needles… Beneath the dirt is the water / beneath the water is the rock… Beneath the bones are the seas / beneath the sea is the glass…”

These were some of the words recited over a Zoom call by poet Chris Ashby, who wore a deep blue flannel shirt and gazed down at what he referred to as “a medley of geographic water poems.”

Performance Works Northwest’s Linda Austin

Ashby let flow a series of sea-driven passages, all paralleling the abundant yet shifting state of Oregon’s poetry community today, one full of writers eager to share their words while limited to the virtual boundaries of a post-pandemic world. Ashby was one of more than 12 poets who took part in A Poet’s Benefit for PWNW: The dance moves on and prose limps hopelessly behind, a virtual literary fundraiser presented by Spare Room and Passages Bookshop on January 31.

This event, originally created during the summer of 2020 in honor of the 20th anniversary year of Linda Austin’s Performance Works Northwest, also marked 19 years of the Spare Room Reading Series, hosted by David Abel. While the original live event concept had to be virtually revived due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the online aspect of the evening allowed for all five founding members of the Spare Room Reading Series to be joined by poet performers in Oakland, Arizona, and Toronto, in addition to Portland.

Continues…