Thursday, October 22, 2009


Powells, Portland and Wordstock Continued

More on the trip to Portland, Powells and Wordstock.

Writers attending the festival got to stay at the absolutely beautiful Benson hotel, located in downtown Portland. The history is fascinating; the construction of the hotel goes hand in hand with Portland's development as a logging boomtown. Here I am in front of the ornate fireplace, made from very rare wood, whose name I can't remember now (it was on the information sheet, which I have misplaced, and does not seem to be on the internet).

There's a bar too, and a piano and in the evening, we heard live music.

Throughout town, Portland has these lovely drinking fountains, built by Mr. Benson who wanted workers to have a free way to get water. IE, he did think they should have to go to the bar--Mr. Benson himself was a nondrinker.

Our first night in Portland, we were invited to a writers only party at the advertising firm Wieden and Kennedy. Having watched a great deal of Mad Men lately, I wondered if modern advertising is anything like it was in the past. Certainly the interior of the office space was imaginative and inspiring. And then there was the wonderful view from the balcony.

I was happy to meet a number of writers, including Victor Lodato, whose photo I never managed to take. And here I am with Joyce Maynard, whose memoir I read and enjoyed and writer Rosanne Parry.

We ran into Joyce a lot during the few days we were in Portland, and I greatly enjoyed her company. She's inspiring too--a real writer for a long time, supporting her family and running her career as she wants to.

My reading was one of the first on Saturday morning. I had fun reading a longer bit than I did at Bread Loaf.

Among the people to attend the reading and signing: my cousin Paul, his wife Barbara and young Mark. On Sunday, I taught a class on publishing (from no publications at all, to short stories to a novel). Class was very nearly full, and I really had a good time speaking directly to aspiring writers. I will teach the same class later this year at CLMP's annual conference. The writers were particularly fascinated to see my different rejection letters, how the letters changed over time, and how I had to respond to them as a writer. Hopefully, they all have a bit more insight into the process now, and can attack their careers with renewed vigor. Certainly, it would have helped me to have had the information I gave them.

Main materials of the Benson Hotel's Lounge were Italian Marble and Siberian Maple.
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