From P-Town… 2nd Best Ever Literary Mixtape

1. Mixologists Korfhage and Bader ask the finest people they know to read the finest prose and poetry they know to the finest audience they’re able to entice. 2. The early crowd, forming opinions and getting situated.

Literary Mixtape #10 (which, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a monthly reading series in which people “deejay” books instead of songs) featured Chloe Caldwell, Peyton Marshall, and Michael Heald. It was held at The Literary Arts space, which is definitely a little brighter and a bit more formal than the bars and basements many of these local series call home; Lit Mixtape still managed to bring their own unique vibe to the place, thanks to co-curators Erik Bader and Matthew Korfhage.

1. Literary Arts headquarters is walking distance from Valentine’s, the usual spot for this series. 2. Crowded, but comfortable.

Heald, publisher of Perfect Day Publishing and author of the upcoming essay collection, Goodbye to the Nervous Apprehension, selected “The Redfish” from The Watch by Rick Bass because a line from this story was used in one of his stories. He later confessed to knowing very little about fishing, and admitted that he also never had any friends who drove a white BMW, which the narrator considered to be quite common. Personally, I’ve always wanted a friend with a green Lexus.

1. Heald’s tote bag safely transported his final mixtape selection. 2. Marshall explains why she’ll be reading memoirs of convicts. 3. Evan P. and Judith Schneider, the night before his birthday and several weeks after getting married.

Marshall’s research for her forthcoming novel, Goodhouse (FSG), inspired her to read from two memoirs written by students from the Preston School, one of the oldest and best-known reform schools in the United States. Ray Johnson’s description of his encounter with a quirky, elderly couple during his escape from Folsom prison was crazy good. You may see his memoir, Too Dangerous to Be at Large, on a lawn during a rummage sale. If so, buy it!

1. Bryan Coffelt and Kevin Sampsell of Future Tense Press, with Amy Temple Harper, local poet. 2. Ann Adams, musician and Portland Monthly Culturephile, with B. Frayne Masters, of Backfence PDX and Portland’s Moth StorySLAM.

Prior to reading her second selection, which was Edward Bunker’s memory of a prison knife fight, Marshall told us we could leave if we wanted. Even Bunker concluded this excerpt with the realization that, “I would never, had never gone hand-to-hand with knives.” I don’t think anyone left. We all forgot where we were anyway.

1. A short intermission, in which, many of us switched from wine to beer. 2. Chloe brings the crowd back as the final reader of the night. 3. One of the Marshall’s selections. I was too lazy to write it down so I took a pic of it, then I fell in love with the cover.

Caldwell read from Joy School, by Elizabeth Berg, because her uncle (who once worked as a contractor for Berg) gave her mother a review copy of the book, which was mysterious and off-limits to her. She selected the part where a mother throws in a roll of blue toilet paper to her daughter’s sarcastic, teen-ish friend, then reprimands her for putting the roll on wrong. I’m glad she got her hands on this book because it reminded me of the things I like about her essays. Caldwell also read a poem from Gregory Sherl’s book, I Have Touched You, as well as an unpublished story by Mary Miller, which was about a 42-year-old-woman who doesn’t want to sleep with men who spend money on her.

1. Susan Denning, Director of Programs and Events for Literary Arts, with Katelyn Mundal, lyricist & illustrator, and Alex Hebler, Lit Arts Intern & writer for She Shreds Magazine. 2. All mixtapes are wrought with indecision.

I enjoy seeing the condition of the books brought in by the readers, with their worn covers and slips of torn paper between the pages. Sometimes it’s a recently purchased book, and its spine is bent for the first time. I also like when the readers look up and comment on what they’re reading, whether it’s something they recall every time they read it or something completely new that occurred to them because an audience is listening. Literary Mixtape #10 is the second best, simply because the next one hasn’t happened yet.

For more monthly readings at The Literary Arts, Small Doggies will be on Nov 8th, and Late Night Library is set for Dec 6th.


— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her here.

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