Literary Arts

The mission of Literary Arts is to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.

I arrived in Portland Oregon 50 years ago and, since then, I’ve seen some remarkable changes in this city. I was here when Powell’s Bookstore first opened. Now it is said to be the world’s largest.

I was here during the energy crises of the 70s when Governor Tom McCall introduced widely adopted energy conservation programs and when Mayor Neil Goldschmidt began planning a metropolitan area that is the envy of city planners throughout this country and abroad.

And I was here when Literary Arts, a nonprofit literary organization was founded 32 years ago. It began with the Portland Arts and Lectures which is now one of the country’s largest literary series.

I vividly recall some of those earlier lectures when the likes of Philip Roth, William Stryon and Robert Coles presented memorable lectures. They were not interviewed, nor did they speak off the cuff about one thing or another. Rather, they delivered a genuine lecture about one of their book(s) or an idea central to their writing life. This year’s speakers include George Saunders, Claudia Rankine, Jesmyn Ward, Dr. Reza Asian and Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Since then Literary Arts has expanded with a variety of new programs. They include:

Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships, which celebrates Oregon’s writers and independent publishers. 

Youth Programs that motivates students to write, publish, and perform their own creative writing. 

Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival, that brings writers throughout the country for lectures, workshops, and discussions.

Literary Arts also hosts guided discussion groups around great works of literature through a program called Delve. A few of the current, 6 week offerings include:

• The works and correspondence of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop
• Shakespeare’s Complicated Romances
• The writings of Robert Bolano
• Discussion of Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon

Portland is a great town for readers. There’s nothing like reading a good book during the long and dreary winters we have around here.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Marks in the Margin will take a Holiday break and will be back early in the New Year.