February's Lit and Storytelling Events

There’s a lot of book love to go around this month, from lit-power couple Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis to international author Isabel Allende to the bday bash for William Stafford.

By Portland Monthly Staff and Kristin Leigh January 29, 2014

February might only be 28 days long, but it’s jam-packed with noteworthy literary events. Big names on tour as well as local Portland heavy hitters share new work this month, giving you plenty of opportunity to share the gift of the spoken word with the book lover in your life.

BackfencePDX: “Ch Ch Changes”
Saturday, Feb 1; Mission Theater
BackfencePDX's live, unscripted storytellers take on the pitfalls of Christian Clowning—humorous children's performers who promote biblical instruction and principles. Ch Ch Changes features author Mitchell S. Jackson, whose novel The Residue Years is about his upbringing in NE Portland (read our profile of Jackson), staff writer Lindy West, This American Life contributor Gloria Harrison, and more.

Carson Ellis and Colin Meloy

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
Sunday, Feb 2; Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills
"When illustrator Carson Ellis and musician-writer Colin Meloy began work on their fantastical young-adult trilogy, Wildwood Chronicles, the husband-and-wife duo traced Forest Park’s boundaries onto a large piece of paper and began to transform its sites into their own magical world. The Pittock Mansion became the dysfunctional government seat of South Wood. The Audubon Society became the Avian Principality. The zoo became a prison. And when the third and final novel, Wildwood Imperium, comes out on February 1, the creepy stone skeleton of a building along the Lower Macleay Trail will become the site of a Bloody Mary–style preteen ritual…." Read our story about Carson Ellis and watch a slide show of how the two transformed the city into a magical world.

The Moth StorySLAM: Love Hurts
Monday, Feb 3; The Secret Society
The little sister of the acclaimed national-storytelling non-profit the Moth, local StorySLAMs give storytellers in a few US cities like Portland the opportunity to compete for a spot at the GrandSLAM. Show up to this open mic competition and share your true, unscripted story adhering to the theme Love Hurts in front of a live audience and judges (or just watch).

Isabelle Allende

Isabel Allende
Tuesday, Feb 4; Newmark Theatre
The human rights activist and best-selling Chilean author of The House of the Spirits reinvents herself yet again with a debut crime thriller, Ripper.

Oregon Humanities Think & Drink: William Vollmann  
Wednesday, Feb 5; Mission Theater
Oregon Humanities' 2014 Think & Drink series is themed Private, exploring themes around government and corporate collection of personal information and examining what we consider private in today's technological proliferation. Author, reporter, and essayist William T. Vollmann kicks off the year with a discussion of his decades spent under surveillance by the FBI. 

A Trifecta of Literary Wickedly Funness
Wednesday, Feb 5; Broadway Books
Words leap off the page and find new life in creative literary forms at this inventive reading. Monica Drake showcases the short film “Georgie’s Big Break,” based on a section of her most recent book, The Stud Book; Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell present a compelling power point presentation of the Bible, based on their book God Is Disappointed in You; and Art Edwards performs a single from his latest rock novel, Badge.

William Stafford Centennial Celebration
Friday, Feb 7; Newmark Theatre
The yearlong celebration of Oregon’s heralded poet has an early finale in this night of readings with some of the city’s most important living poets, including Paulann Peterson, Kim Stafford, and the only other Oregon poet to win the National Book Award, Mary Szybist. (Read our story about how Stafford influenced her) 

Courtesy IPRC

AmaZine Night: Zines After Dark
Saturday, Feb 8; Independent Publishing Resource Center
Get in the mood for Valentines Day at this action packed zine festival. Listen to the intimate readings and performances by zinesters Alex Wrekk, Joshua James Amberson, Kaitlin Young, Davis Woods-Morse, Marla Singer, and Kenia Perez-Correa; groove to dance worthy R&B boy band IBQT; and peruse the sex positive demonstrations, raffles, and craft tables.

Mortified’s Valentines Show
February 13–15; Mission Theater
What’s more romantic than reading your childhood love letters and brokenhearted diary entries to a live audience? Just about everything, but there’s little that is funnier. Laughing at others’ love-fails is also the perfect antidote for the unwillingly dateless on this Hallmark holiday.  

Lit Arts: Chris Ware & Chip Kidd
Tuesday, Feb 18; Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
By incorporating elements of typography and graphic design, Chris Ware single-handedly reinvented comics. His work regularly graces the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, and he comes to us in conversation with another giant, book designer Chip Kidd.  

Courtesy BJ Novak

B.J. Novak
Wednesday, Feb 19; Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills
The playfully imaginative screenwriter, actor, and comedian adds short-story writer to his résumé with the collection One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.

Elizabeth Kolbert
Thursday, Feb 20; Powell’s City of Books
In The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, this environmental journalist and two-time winner of the National Magazine Award draws from a wealth of scientific research in a startling examination of earth’s next extinction—one of our own devising.                        




Courtesy Juliana Spahr and David Buuck

The Switch: David Buuck and Juliana Spahr
Thursday, Feb 20; Independent Publishing Resource Center
Listen to California poets David Buuck and Juliana Spahr read from their new collaborative novel, Army of Lovers, an experimental book that delves into the power of poetry to enact social change in this monthly reading series. 

Justin Hocking
Wednesday, Feb 26; Powell’s City of Books
Local indie publishing darling (he heads the Independent Publishing Resource Center) releases his anticipated debut, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld: A Memoir. The tale follows his struggled transition from Colorado to New York City, and the eventual solace he found surfing on Rockaway Beach (and in Melville).

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