WordStock Features the Best of the Pacific Northwest

Reading Time: 2 minutes
A woman demonstrates her literary scarves and hand warmers
A vendor from Storyarts displays her literary scarves and hand warmers at WordStock 2016. Photo by Marziah Karch

Sometimes books make it worth standing out in the rain. On November 5th, I had the privilege of attending the expanded WordStock Book Festival in Portland, Oregon. The festival is sponsored by Portland Literary Arts. This year the popular festival had expanded into half a dozen buildings along the Cultural District in downtown Portland. There were more than 100 authors and vendors along with pop-up readings and food carts.

I attended readings and wandered the vendor’s hall and found multiple writer’s groups, open journals, and small publishers thriving in the Pacific Northwest. Portland has a well-deserved reputation for fostering the arts, but I also met visitors who had come to the festival from California and Alaska.

Here’s what I found at the festival:

City of WeirdThe City of Weird anthology,  featuring “30 Otherworldly Portland Tales.” This is the sort of wonderful creativity I love about my city and one of my favorite finds at the show. The editor was kind enough to give me a review copy, which I successfully kept out of the rain. If it weren’t for the rain, I know I would have been on a book-buying spree.

My children’s book recommendations include Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz. She gave a musical performance on the kids’ stage, asking for enthusiastic kid contributions for things that Giraffes ruin.

For middle schoolers, look at Foxheart and perhaps The Best Worst Thing.  YA readers might enjoy Klickitat by Peter Rock, a book that caught my name because Klickitat is the street Ramona lives on in the famous Beverly Clearly books.

My favorite author reading/interview of the festival was Carrie Brownstein. Her memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, is amazing. In addition to reading excerpts from the book, she spoke about her writing process (get up early and ignore social media – walk the dogs when she needs a break) and how she views Portlandia as a conversation with the community. She answered audience questions (for the record, she is not looking for a new writing partner, as her current partners – the dogs – do not talk to her while she’s trying to write).

Carrie Brownstein
Photo by Marziah Karch

If you have a chance, check out the WordStock author interview recordings featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting, and if you’re going to be in Portland, the next WordStock will be on November 11 in 2017. It’s worth walking in the rain.

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