From P-Town: Mixtapes on the Make

1. Erik Bader, Literary Mixtape No. 5 host & co-organizer, will be your friend on Facebook. 2. Sarah Mirk, two conversations, and one guy leaving the bar.

Around the corner from Voodoo Donuts, Erik Bader hosted his fifth Literary Mixtape reading at Valentine’s with Paul Collins, NPR’s literary detective on Weekend Edition; Sarah Mirk, Portland Mercury Journalist; and Pauls Toutonghi, English Professor at Lewis & Clark College and novelist. Co-organizer Matthew Korfhage usually hosts the event, but he was fixing a wind turbine somewhere where wind turbines are found and repaired.

1. Jesse Lichtenstein, co-organizer of Loggernaut Reading Series, talks to Paul Collins, the evening’s headliner. 2. Hanging out before the event begins. 3. Crowd participation required standing as well as listening.

Intimacy lingered, as if it had no other plans for the night, except to see what would happen next or maybe who would walk in. Each reader read something they didn’t write. Each reading felt a little like going through family photos with an old friend. Each person who walked into Valentine’s was cooler than me.

Bader started the evening by reading Haruki Murakami’s “On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning.” His smile, on pause, at Murakami’s reference to young D.H. Lawrence’s piggybank was the first of many personal reactions that make this reading series unique. The piece also highlighted the mysterious draw of that which we love and cherish regardless of intricate reasoning and logic. Our ability to explain or defend these feelings is irrelevant, but the shared experience is obvious and powerful.

1. Chloe Caldwell came from NY to PDX to check out the scene. She also hosts the Hudson River Loft Reading Series. Matt moved here two months ago. He still doesn’t see the brilliance in Murikami, but enjoyed the zine readings and people watching. 2. Mirk, Toutonghi, & Tom Colligan, who also organizes a 24hr Moby-Dick reading in February, with over 120 readers.

Toutonghi’s trifecta included an essay, poem and short crowd participation piece which may have been a short story. While reading the essay entitled Birds of a Feather by Payton Marshall, his wife, Toutonghi commented that it was all a true story. His second selection was a poem, in honor of a high school friend who was in town. The third was just for fun, I think.

Mirk read selections from three local zines: On Subbing by Dave Roche and published by Microcosm in Southeast Portland; Good Crew written and published in Xtratuf by Moe Bowstern; and Jason Breedlove’s 1065131. Mirk’s snap and zing delivery complemented her honest and well-written selections. It’s been a while since I bought a zine, but she made we wonder why we don’t buy them like wine. I may need to go to Reading Frenzy to check out a few.

Collins chose to read some stories by Byron Rogers since they are not in print within the US, so we would never get a chance to read them if Collins didn’t read them to us. What is not to like about obsessive societies and collecting memories?

Collins’ selections were the perfect ending to a curated night of literature, the mixtape that sounds different each time you play it, because it plays your mood as well as the music of the moment.

***

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

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