From P-Town… Shhhh: A Bookstar is Reading

1. The Old Town neighborhood’s quiet look. Don’t be fooled. It’s early. 2. Stacked books weighed down a table near the door, as Fun Yeti kicked-off the event. 3. Grover with Michael Heald, Founder of Perfect Day Press.

On Saturday night, Perfect Day Publishing booked three bands at Backspace to help celebrate the release of One More for the People, a collection of Martha Grover’s zine Somnambulist. Portland Litsters, along with people who sometimes or never go to lit events definitely came out to support this one.

1. Sarah, Lisa Wells (Yeah. No. Totally., Perfect Day Publishing) and T. Aisha set the standard for perfectly posed pics. 2. Martha Grover rocks the mic like a bookstar to a crowded floor.

After the kick-off performance by Fun Yeti, Grover quickly won a quiet crowd and maintained her connection while reading “OK Cupid Profile.” Equal parts confession and correction, Grover shared the internal dialogue we all endure, which makes reality more interesting and some people crazy. Online dating can become a form of soul-searching in which many people are given the opportunity to meet themselves, perhaps for the first time. Grover’s take on this coming-of-age experience was pretty hilarious. In her second set, Grover read Pee-Hat, a slightly longer piece, and received applause you would never hear at a bookstore reading.

1. Lisa Mae and Justin Hocking [Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) Director] gather around Kevin Sampsell (Publisher, Future Tense Books) and his awesome sweater. 2. Matthew Dickman (local poet and Tin House staff member) with his cousin, Sarah, and Eric Bader, who curates the Literary Mixtape reading series.

One could easily lose the crowd to distraction in this multi-purpose space, but Grover held the audience in a loose grip with humor and wit. At a nearby table, someone began talking a bit loudly to a recently-arrived friend during Grover’s second set and sort of wondered, aloud, if you are allowed to talk during book readings. I wanted to tell them that it was cool of them to come out for the reading, but I’m used to not talking so I remained silent.

1. Julia and Suzette shared their theories on the books & band crowd mix. 2. Fun Yeti bandmates and soulmates, Gariet & Orly Cowin, played the opening set and shared nachos with Todd and Frank at the table next to me.

The Awkward Energy and Ross McLeron and the World Radiant sets gave the crowd an opportunity to move around and not be so quiet. I had no trouble spotting familiar faces as well as meeting a few new people. An informal poll gave the crowd a “not awkward” rating.

While talking to different lit people about their upcoming projects, it was fun to see who already knew each other and who was meeting for the first time. Sampsell mentioned the upcoming If Not for Kidnap series event on January 20th, and Bader gave a preview of possible Mixtape series readers for the New Year (and possibly recruited a few new readers that night).

Several of the night’s band members included writers, and one band also included Heald. As the co-creator of THIS! FEST, an annual two-day lit & music fest in Portland, I hope Heald continues to offer free events that combine books and bands. The crowd is so worth it.

One More for the People

by Martha Grover

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

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