Among Portland traditions is the all day event called Wordstock, an event currently presented by Literary Arts and held in several venues near the Portland Art Museum. After last year when the crowds were twice the number expected and disgruntled people stood in line but still didn’t get in to sessions, it was a relief to have the six added venues. Large auditoriums were almost filled, but a few empty seats remained, so I’m guessing that most people got in to sessions of their choice.

Several of my choices were sessions recorded for later presentation on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)’s Thinking Out Loud, starting with Sherman Alexie in dialog. He read his first picture book, Thunder Boy, Jr., interspersing many observations and anecdotes. In addition to enjoying his humor, I appreciated his observation that laughter, in addition to making harsh reality bearable, functions as prayer.

Last year I came home with a list of 12 books, mostly all novels, to add to my to-read list. This year there were fewer books and novels for later. One session was a dud–bad acoustics, bad diction. Who knows, I might have been interested in one of the books had I heard what was said.

I did come away wanting to read two memoirs from teachers: Michael Copperman’s Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta, for a more realistic look at what a teacher can accomplish than the Hollywood myth, and Nicholson Baker’s Substitute: Going to School With One Thousand Kids for some of his observations about meaningful education.

Baker and an afternoon presenter, Sallie Tisdale, made similar observations from their childhoods and recommended their freedom: each had been allowed to read anything they wanted to.

From the session titled “Tales of Two Americas,” I came away with novels (Richard Russo), essays (Karen Russell) and poetry (Kevin Young) to read. Don’t hold your breath, but someday there will be posts reviewing these various readings.






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5 responses to “Wordstock

  1. Sounds like a good event. Shame about acoustics!

  2. Dorothy Matheson

    I too was raised by parents that let me read what ever I was interested in. Way above grade level by at least three years. So I read widely and had lots of view points. I agree this is a great way to raise children that love to read. Very important in this word.

  3. dezertsuz

    I have to agree with Baker and Tisdale. I was allowed to read ALMOST anything I wanted (no comic books or Nancy Drew (sneaked them both in anyway), and Black Beauty was taken away – it was a boy’s book; but then in high school I got a letter of permission to check out Catcher in the Rye – go figure.) and I generally chose classics, because I liked them. I allowed my children to read what they wanted, within reason for age appropriateness in some areas, and they are both avid readers, and one writes, as I do. I look forward to seeing your reviews. I’m glad you were able to get the sessions you wanted. I suppose it wouldn’t have been normal without ONE dud.

  4. Sounds like this is one advantage of living in your urban area!

  5. I always like hearing about good books, so glad to know you came away with a few to recommend. I did buy the Orchardist after your review of it–it’s an Audible recording, waiting its turn after my JoJo Moyes novel (my mother chose).

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