A new writer friend, Marcia Riefer Johnston, asked if I was floating after last night’s reading at Powell’s.
We had an overflow crowd of 150, according to Powell’s staff estimates. We ran out of chairs, so some people sat in between bookshelves or stood around the edges of the gathering. There were people I know, writers and friends and even a row of my neighbors! Tom Spanbauer, a literary god here in Portland for his own work and how he cultivates talent in the writers he teaches, attended our event. There were friends of friends and writers who have studied with writers I have studied with.
But most amazingly, there were writers who came to be inspired, to ask questions about writing what we know (or not) and how we feel about writing groups. There were so many faces in the audience that I didn’t know, and it was so special to share Brave on the Page with them through readings by Kate Gray, Gina Ochsner, Gigi Little, Robert Hill and me. And to share the sense of writerly community and camaraderie through the panel discussion moderated by Joanna Rose and featuring Yuvi Zalkow, Scott Sparling, Jon Bell and Kristy Athens.
This is why I created Forest Avenue Press. To make a concrete representation of community by publishing and promoting Oregon writers and their works. And Brave on the Page is just the beginning. We are at the beginning of our submissions process and expect a lot of good news and excitement in 2013 and beyond.
Here’s part of what I said last night:
“As a novelist, I have always dreamed of reading in the Pearl Room. I’m so grateful to be standing here tonight—as the editor and publisher of Brave on the Page, which recently hit #2 on the Powell’s small press bestseller list. Matt Love called Brave on the Page “easily the most quintessential Oregon book I’ve encountered in a very long time,” when he chose it as the the fourth annual Powell’s On Oregon Blog’s Book of the Year. Brave on the Page is included in the prestigious Powell’s staff Top Fives lists for 2012, was named a staff pick at Powell’s Hawthorne, earned a four-star review from the Portland Book Review, and received coverage in many local papers, including the Oregonian. All these honors reflect the hard work all forty-two contributors put into this project, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Thanks to everyone who attended and participated in last night’s event. And a special thanks to Powell’s, especially Jeremy Garber and Kevin Sampsell.