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LitWatch June: Freadom festival celebrates black writers and community

Kesha Ajose Fisher, author of “No God Like the Mother,” is a featured writer at Portland’s inaugural Freadom Festival. Fisher’s novel won the Ken Kesey Prize for Fiction at the 2020 Oregon Book Awards.

On the weekend of June 16, Nanea Woods, creator of the Prose Before Bros social book club for women of color in Portland, will present the Freadom Festival. An amalgamation of “freedom” and “reading,” the Black Literary Festival will focus on uniting the community and edifying Black authors in a welcoming outdoor atmosphere.

Woods told The Oregonian’s Amy Wang that she had timed the festival to coincide with the weekend of June 19, a celebration of emancipation from slavery. “How we got our freedom had a lot to do with reading and literacy,” Woods added, noting that reading and writing were key to ending black slavery.

The Freadom Festival’s slogan, “Reading by Any Means Necessary,” also speaks to the importance of literature within black communities. The phrase, taken from a 1964 speech by activist Malcolm X, refers to achieving freedom and racial justice by any means necessary.

The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. on June 18 at Peninsula Park and includes a community book exchange for all ages (kids K-8 get a free book); a children’s story hour with Jelani Memory, founder and CEO of A Kids Company About; a used book drive for the non-profit Portland Books to Prisoners; raffles and giveaways; a craft zine-making station with local black artist Christine Miller; and literary providers including Multnomah County Library, SMART Reading, Street Books, Third Eye Books, Literary Arts, Big Yard Foundation and others. Oregon authors Kim Johnson, author of This is my Americaand Kesha Ajose Fisher, author of No god like motherwill be featured, reading excerpts from their work and participating in a Q&A with the audience.

Week 1: June 1-7

Nell Zink in conversation with Justin Taylor

Featured by Powell Books
5 p.m. Thursday, June 2, via ZOOM

A young Southern California woman’s untraditional upbringing in a biker gang posing as a nursery leads to a tumultuous romantic relationship for protagonist Bran in Nell Zink’s new novel, Avalon. Zink will be joined by the author of Ride with the Ghost, Justin Taylor, to discuss the catalyst for Zink’s dark, humorous, and mythical coming-of-age story. Advance registration is recommended.

Author event: Hike366: One Woman’s Year-Round Hiking Adventures by Jess Beauchemin

Presented by Roundabout Books
6:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 7
roundabout books
900 NW Mt. Washington Drive, #110, Bend

Jess Beauchemin is an avid hiker with over 15 years of experience hitting the trails and traveling “from shore to mountaintop, rainforest to desert, city to wilderness, east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between”. As part of her Hiking366 project, Beauchemin decided to record one of his hikes for each day of the year; the result is Hike366: Stories of one woman’s hiking adventures all year roundin which she shares some of her favorite experiences.

Week 2: June 8-14

Author event: Bend, Oregon Daycations by Kim Cooper Findling

Presented by Roundabout Books
6 p.m. Thursday, June 9
roundabout books
900 NW Mt. Washington Drive #110, Bend


Portland Center Stage Rent Portland Oregon

If you’re a fan of day trips, come to Roundabout Books for Kim Cooper Findling’s talk on Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families. Findling, editor of Bend Magazine and publisher of Dancing Moon Press, writes about perfect trips within two hours of the central Oregon city. Originally published in 2017, the popular guide has been re-edited to include maps, additional locations and travel stories for kids.

Liz Prato in conversation with Lidia Yuknavitch

Featured by Powell Books
7:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 15
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St., Portland

Liz Prato will be joined by Joan’s book author Lidia Yuknavich to discuss Prato Children in America, an examination of the importance and influence of Generation X on contemporary American culture. Raised at a time when open discussion of difficult topics was not considered appropriate, Prato delves into the events of Generation X of the 1980s and early 90s – from films like sixteen candles to the Rodney King riots figure out how to reconcile his past with that of his peers.

Week 3: June 15-21

An evening of poetry with Brittney Corrigan, John Sibley Williams and Paulann Petersen

Presented by Broadway Books
6 p.m. Thursday, June 16
Broadway Books
1714 NE Broadway, Portland

Broadway Books welcomes poets Brittany Corrigan, author of Breakup, Navigation, 40 weeksand Girls; John Sibley Williams, author of Model of a country at dawn; and Paulann Petersen, former Stanford University Stegner Fellow, former Oregon Poet Laureate, and author of A little sun. Their books are available for purchase online prior to the event.

Henry “Hank” Alley

Author Event with Henry Alley: Reading, Q&A, and Signing

Presented by Tsunami Books
7 p.m. Thursday, June 16
Tsunami Books
2585 ​​Willamette Street, Eugene

Henry “Hank” Alley will read an excerpt from his latest book, Galen’s Legacy, about a gay man who spends most of his life in prison before being found not guilty and released. Galen Melville returns to his idyllic Oregon hometown and begins to mend relationships. Along the way, he discovers parts of his past that he must come to terms with while “fighting to make his uncle’s mansion a haven for gays and lesbians.” Event attendees are kindly requested to wear a mask.

Freadom Festival: Portland’s first annual Black Book Festival

Presented by Freadom Festival
From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday June 18
Peninsula Park
700 N. Rosa Parks Way, Portland

Prose Before Bros founder Nanea Woods created Freadom Festival to connect literature and community. Coinciding with Juneteenth weekend, a celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States, the festival will host talks by authors Kesha Ajose Fisher and Kim Johnson, a children’s story hour and a community book exchange , as well as music and several Black-owned food carts.

Week 4: June 22-30

Ada Calhoun: also poet: Frank O’Hara, my father and me

Featured by Powell Books
7 p.m. Thursday, June 23
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St., Portland

Ada Calhoun, daughter of famed art critic Peter Schjeldahl, discovers her father’s unfinished biography of poet Frank O’Hara and decides she must complete the task. The project, which she thought was simple and carefree, takes her on a wild ride that culminates in a “kaleidoscopic memoir that weaves a compelling literary story with a moving, honest, and tender tale of a complicated father-daughter bond.” Calhoun will read from Also a poet: Frank O’Hara, my father and me to the city of Powell’s books.

Swimming in the forest and writing: Mount Tabor Park

Presented by Literary Arts
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28
Mount Tabor Park
Southeast of 60th Avenue and Salmon Street, Portland
$75, access rates available

Join poet Jennifer Perrine — author of Still, The body is not a machine, In the human zooand No confession, no mass — for an outdoor workshop where nature will help inspire writing. practitioner shinrin yoku or “forest bathing,” participants will explore their senses and cultivate a connection with the natural world to develop prompts that build a sense of openness and wonder in their written work. No experience is necessary to participate.

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