From P-Town… The Tin House Portland-Brooklyn Issue

1. Holocene, which is in the SE side of Portland, is bike accessible. 2. Adam Souza and Peter Black are both much taller in person. 3. Toutonghi will let you wear his fedora, if you can catch it.

I’m not sure how much of Tin House is Brooklyn and how much is Portland. I’m not sure how much it matters, but I am mildly competitive. This month, they made it an issue.

The Portland-Brooklyn issue release party at Holocene featured Portland locals Jon Raymond, Lisa Ciccarello, and Pauls Toutonghi reading from their pages of Tin House Issue #53. Lance Cleland, who wore a much-admired braided leather belt, hosted the debate-free evening in style.

1. Toutonghi reading in the yellow spotlight in the back room. 2. Raymond re-wandering Occupy Portland in Toutonghi’s fedora.

I’m not really sure if anyone from Brooklyn was at the event, aside from Chloe Caldwell who recently moved to Portland. The smoking sentinels stationed near the doors at most times were unable to provide me with additional information on the Brooklyn factor. I did find out it was Tony Perez’s birthday.

1. Ciccarello in a faux MST3K shot. 2. Patrick deWitt: back from Paris, in front of Holocene.

Holocene has two stages, which usually host two different DJs. Toutonghi, who read from his essay on Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels, loosely packed the backroom stage area with one of the better looking lit crowds I’d seen in awhile. Tin House feels a bit upscale, and Holocene can be a club worth the extra effort. I was able to wade through the crowd to get a decent stage view without touching anyone or seeming like an asshole. Unfortunately, the backstage is very far from the bar. I’ll admit that I showed up mid-Toutonghi and look forward to reading the entire essay in the magazine.

Ciccarello took the stage next, after a Cleland introduction, which prompted her to mention that she didn’t have her phone at certain points during AWP in Chicago. She read a few poems from the “Of Night” series, as well as a poem not featured in Tin House, which was part of a series responding to movies. We heard the poem in response to the Disney movie John Carter.

Raymond, who borrowed Toutonghi’s fedora to up his dress code, read last from his essay The Broadway Gang, which is currently available online. The essay gives us all an opportunity to lurk and think with Raymond as he walks around the Occupy Portland encampment as both tourist and journalist. I enjoyed the process of allowing him to lead me around and notice what he noticed. His essay felt like a conversation, even though I never said a word.

1. Derrick Martin-Campbell, Tanna, and Kevin Maloney having the most amazing imaginary conversation. 2. Stephanie, Clair and Casey are Toutonghi’s students at Lewis & Clark.

At this point, I was finally able to make it over to the bar for an ice-cold Pilsner Urquell, begin a conversation, and talk to a few writers and Tin House staffers into taking a group picture near the photo booth. I wanted to get to the other half of the conversation, but I forgot that some people are smokers and thought they had left. This gave me an opportunity to watch the crowd and pretend that the DJ was into me.

1. The crowd buying Tin House to beats. 2. Raymond, Cheston Knapp (Tin House Managing Editor), Toutonghi, Ciccarello and Lance Cleland (Tin House Editorial Assistant).

Eventually, I decided to leave and found everyone who I wanted to see smoking outside in one of the last rain-free Portland nights of the season.

I’m going to make a call and say that Tin House is more Portland. After all, the release party for their Portland-Brooklyn issue at Holocene was 100% Portland, and they listed Portland before Brooklyn when naming the issue so it’s kind of obvious — Portland wins.


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

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