PoMo Picks

Top Things to Do This Weekend: Mar 28–31

The country's largest literary conference lands in town, Bombino plays the Star Theater, and Portland Center Stage closes Tiny Beautiful Things.

By Rebecca Jacobson, Jackson Main, Wriik Maui, and Fiona McCann March 27, 2019

Portland-born photographer Natalie Krick's exhibit at Blue Sky includes this image of her mom, titled My Mother in Bed with Roses.

Books & Talks

AWP Conference & Bookfair

Thu–Sat, Oregon Convention Center, prices vary
Portland hosts the annual conference of the Association of Writers & Writers Programs—the largest literary event of its kind in the country, with some 12,000 attendees swarming the city for packed days of readings, panel discussions, and schmoozing. Colson Whitehead, author of the Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad, delivers the keynote on Thursday, and other featured writers include Mitchell S. Jackson, Ariel Levy, Karen Russell, Tayari Jones, Cheryl Strayed, and Jesmyn Ward. Also? More than 200 offsite events, many of them free.

A Vision: Readings with Michelle Tea & Guests

7 p.m. Fri, Mar 29, Psychic Sister, $25
Prolific author and literary organizer Michelle Tea has assembled a bang-up slate of writers for this reading, including Portland illustrator Nicole J. Georges of graphic memoir Fetch, acclaimed poet Jericho Brown, Sick author Porochista Khakpour, arts consultant Beth Pickens, writer and AIDS historian Sarah Schulman, Hip Mama founder Ariel Gore, and Whiting Award winner Brontez Purnell. For more, check out our Q&A with Tea.

Super Fun Poetry Showcase: The World's Most Unboring Poetry Show

8 p.m. Fri, Revolution Hall, $10
Los Angeles publishing house Write Bloody treks up I-5 for an evening of five-minute-long poetry readings from a slew of writers, including Mindy Nettifee of Back Fence PDX and fellow Portlander (and national slam poetry champion) Anis Mojgani. 

Thomas Hager

7:30 p.m. Sun, Powell's City of Books, FREE
In Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine, the Portland author digs into his research on the history of drugs, from opium to antipsychotics to Viagra. Kirkus called it “an expert, mostly feel-good book about modern medicine.”


POW Film Fest

Various times and locations, Thu–Sun, prices vary
POW Film Fest brings the late Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground—the story of an academic and her artist husband was lauded by the New York Times’ A. O. Scott as “a puzzle and a marvel”—to Portland as part of its four-day celebration of women- and nonbinary-directed films. Collins’s daughter Nina Lorez Collins will be present at the screening (7 p.m. Saturday at the Hollywood Theatre) to discuss her mother’s work. 



9 p.m. Fri, Star Theater, $25
The phenomenally skilled Tuareg musician’s latest album, last spring’s Deran, showcases his bluesy guitar lines and warm, slightly gravelly vocals.

Portland Gay Men's Chorus

8 p.m. Sat, 3 p.m. Sun, Reed College's Kaul Auditorium, $18–50
For nearly 40 years, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus has spread advocacy through song, with a harmonious pairing of high-level musical chops and serious showmanship that elicits tears, laughter, and goosebumps in equal measure. (And last year, they became the first-ever LGBTQ choir to tour China.) This concert, Our Audacity to Hope, draws inspiration from figures ranging from Malala Yousafzai to Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson (the two black men unjustly arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last spring) to the Thai soccer team that spent 18 days trapped in a cave.

Jose Gonzalez & The String Theory

8 p.m. Sun, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $27.50–55
The Argentinian-Swedish songwriter, known for his delicate sound, has teamed up with German-Swedish experimental music collective the String Theory for a North American tour, stopping in Portland for one night at the Schnitz.



7:30 p.m. Thu and Sat, Newmark Theatre, $35–200
After taking on a classic in La Traviata, Portland Opera tackles more contemporary issues in the next show of the season, a coming-of-age chamber opera about a transgender woman navigating her world and identity.


7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sun, Shoebox Theatre, $18
Idiosyncratic theater artists the Reformers, known for spooky and immersive work, present a new take on King Lear, adapted by company members Portlanders Caitlin Nolan and Sean Doran and directed by Charmian Creagle. Not to be outdone, the play itself will be accompanied by a meta-narrative on social media, a podcast series, and an original music album.

CLOSING Tiny Beautiful Things

Noon and 7:30 p.m. Thu, 7:30 p.m. Fri, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, The Armory, $25–80
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s book of the same name, Tiny Beautiful Things chronicles the author’s journey as agony aunt as The Rumpus’s Dear Sugar, in a play the New York Times called a “handkerchief-soaking meditation on pain, loss, hope, and forgiveness.”

Visual Art

CLOSING Natalie Krick

Noon–5 p.m. Thu–Sun, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE
In Natural Deceptions, Portland-born photographer Natalie Krick explores the tension between her “attraction and aversion to popular culture.” The exhibit features bold portraits of Krick and her mother, with glossy, editorial-style images that dig into femininity, age, sexuality, and what it means to be a beautiful woman.

Jake Scharbach

10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, Froelick Gallery, FREE
The Washington-raised, Brooklyn-based painter’s latest exhibit, Hand to Hand, mashes up ancient Greek and Roman imagery with modern symbols of technology and consumerism—think classical figures in togas being stormed by Pringles cans and shopping carts and plastic flamingos, or Prometheus juxtaposed with a car on fire. Says Scharbach in an artist’s statement: “I believe our intensely capitalistic techno-industrial civilization is poised on the brink of the greatest collapse in human history.”

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