November is upon us and with the new month comes new cultural opportunities in the North West. OPB announcer and producer Donald Orr sat down with OPB All Things Considered host Crystal Ligori to discuss upcoming events for people looking to fill their arts and culture cups to the brim in the coming weeks. Listen or read a lightly edited transcript of their conversation below.
Crystal Ligori: So what do you have for us?
Or: First up is Literary Arts’ annual Portland Book Festival, which is back this year, and the first week of November is packed with writing classes, seminars and author talks. They all lead to the festival at the Portland Art Museum and neighboring venues on Saturday, November 5th. They include authors of fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, children’s books, and more.
League: Anyone we should be on the lookout for?
Orr: Yes, one event I would like to highlight is a conversation with the poet and author Kwame Alexander. He is a New York Times Bestselling Author and Morning Edition Poet-in-Residence.
He will be speaking to OPB Think Out Loud host Dave Miller about his latest book, The Door of No Return. It is a young adult novel set in 1860 and deals with the history of slavery from the perspective of a boy growing up in Ghana. Here is Alexander reading a passage from the novel:
Kwame Alexander: [from the poetically crafted chapter titled “Terror”]:
is the edge
of the mighty blue
this Nana Mosi
talked about it
that I dreamed of
a body of water
it could breathe
a million clouds
draw the moon
over its gigantic waves
but this is not a dream
I try to climb out
this rustling blue
is a bad nightmare
is a monstrous mouth
and it’s wide enough
to swallow us
Orr: You can hear Alexander discuss his latest book, The Door of No Return, with Dave Miller, host of OPB’s Think Out Loud, at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland on Saturday, November 5 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. In addition, many other OPB hosts will be interviewing writers at the festival. A full list of talks and programs can be found at literary-arts.org.
Ligor: I love a good book festival, can’t wait! What’s later in the month?
Orr: Two back-to-back queer film festivals are coming to Portland in mid-November. QDoc is the only festival of its kind in the country that focuses on queer documentaries – and our friends at Oregon Art Beat are showing a short documentary about mixed media artist Allison Wonder. Working with intricate miniatures and puppets, he creates custom costumes and props for on-site photo shoots.
Here’s Allison Wonder talking about the process:
I think the greatest gift I gave myself with my creativity was making mistakes. It’s like, you know, we’re just gonna try. If it’s a mistake, we can start over. And sometimes they work, and it’s great.”
— Allison wonders
Orr: Join Allison and Oregon Art Beat producer Eric Slade for a screening of Allison Wonder: Master of Dolls and see much more at the QDoc Film Festival. It begins the weekend of Friday, November 11th at the Hollywood Theater.
And the Portland Queer Film Festival is right after, on November 15-15. 20 at Cinema 21. Festival passes are available online at Qdocfilmfest.org and PDXqueerfilm.com
Ligor: OK, I mark my calendar. Anything else for us?
Orr: One last thing to pin: Día de Muertos is upon us and it is an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away. The Oregon Community Foundation Latino Partnership Program and CAPACES Leadership Institute are hosting a Día de Muertos event at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. They will have live performances and a traditional Día de Muertos altar. That is on Wednesday November 2nd.
League: Donald, thank you for joining me in letting us know what to expect in the arts and culture space.
Or: Thank you Crystal
League: That was Donald Orr from OPB. All of our art programs and coverage can be found online at OPB.org/culture.