Portland Artists Celebrate Judy Blume

For 'Blumesday,' a bevvy of Portland artists, including China Forbes, Courtenay Hameister, and Laura Gibson, and B. Frayn Masters, recount their most awkward experiences with the oft-censored writer's books on June 17.

By Claire Gordon June 12, 2013

Inspired by the Joycean holiday of Bloomsday, Blumesday is a tribute to Judy Blume—the venerated, celebrated, and sometimes banned young-adult author. The event was founded in 2007 by Heather Larimer and Joanna Miller. It moved to Los Angeles the following year, but returns now to Portland, just in time for the release of the movie adaptation of Tiger Eyes

Secret Society Lounge
June 17

This year's lineup includes local literary ladies Emily Chenoweth, China Forbes, Courtenay Hameister, Laura Gibson, B. Frayn Masters, Sarah Grace McCandless, and Andi Zeisler. These performers will share their most profound, awkward, and titillating experiences with the oft-censored books of Blume. Performances will include excerpts from some of Blume's most popular works, such as: Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; and Forever. The evening will conclude with an audience-participation game, "Name that Blume."

As a preview, we asked some of this year's performers, as well as Blumesday's founders, to share their favorite Blume passages:

B. Frayn Masters

All of Frayn's quotes are from Forever, which is about a 17-year-old girl named Katherine who is "experimenting with" (i.e; having) sex for the first time. Not surprisingly, Forever has been a target of censors since it was published in 1975, appearing on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 at number seven.

“I don’t know exactly how to do it… satisfy you, I mean.” “It’s the easiest thing in the world,” Michael said, loosening his belt.

“Did you know that soft mattresses are no good for making love,” Michael said. 

“I love to look at the stars.” “I love to look at you.” (friendly punch) “Oh Michael… come on.”

Heather Larimer: Blumesday co-founder/co-producer/co-host

"Like Peter Hatcher (the protagonist/narrator in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing) I had a much younger brother. I felt that my brother’s existence grossly infringed on the lifestyle my parents and I had established. But my parents didn’t seem to agree—they thought Nick was hilarious.

"This book was a total epiphany. I wasn’t evil for resenting my brother. Or if I was evil, I had good company in Peter Hatcher."

My favorite quotes:

For once my brother got what he deserved. And I was glad!

I was about ready to kill my brother. He bent down and kissed me. That's what he does when my mother's angry at him. He thinks nobody can resist him when he makes himself so lovable.  And a lot of times it works with my mother. But not with me!

 Nobody can stop me from thinking. My mind is my own.

Joanna Miller: Blumesday co-founder/co-producer/co-host

"If I had to pick a VERY favorite JB book (this is difficult), and definitely with regard to sheer number of times that I read it, it must be Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself. It's Blume's only book not written in a contemporary setting (she says it's her most autobiographical—based on her own life). 

"The book opens on an afternoon in August, 1945—the day that WWII ends. It then takes place over the course an entire year in 1947—when her family moves from New Jersey to Miami Beach for the sake of her brother's health. I loved imagining myself in Sally's 1940's Miami Beach world—with hibiscus flowers,  man-o-wars and Esther Williams—a far cry from Eugene, Oregon, 1979. 

"She is fiercely convinced that one of her neighbors in their Miami Beach apartment complex is Adolf Hitler in hiding. She writes several letters to him, which she never actually sends."

Dear Mr. Zavodsky,

You don't know me or who I am and you'll never find out, not if you guess for twenty years. But I think I know who you are. I think you are a person people hate. I think you are a person who is wicked and evil. I think you are worse than a regular murderer of kidnapper. I think you are a person with the initials A.H.

Dear Mr. Zavodsky, 

I know you are in disguise. You have shaved off your mustache and let your hair grow in gray but I am not so easy to fool. I happen to be one of the best detectives around and I am working on  your case. So watch it!

Sarah Grace McCandless

From Tiger Eyes:

Some changes happen deep down inside of you. And the truth is, only you know about them. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.

Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.

From Blubber:

"A person who can laugh at herself will be respected," Mom said.
"Usually... what makes you ask, anyway?"
"Nothing special...just this girl in our class who lets everybody walk all over her...she really looks for it."
"You should try putting yourself in her place."
"I could never be in her place!"
"Don't be too sure," Mom said, as she took off her reading glasses and slid them into her case.
"I think I will go to bed now," I said, leaning over for my kiss. 



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