Portland Playhouse Roald Dahl Matilda the Musical Portland Oregon

LitWatch October: Bob Welch on the PCT, Mary Beard on ancient Rome, and fighting fire with fire

Warm up with M.R. O'Connor on the science of wildfires, poetry readings, and Halloween story time.


Credit: Alex Geerts on Unsplash
Cozy socks, a cup of coffee, a good book: La-di-da, di-da-di-dum, ’tis Autumn. Credit: Alex Geerts on Unsplash

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.

— Excerpt from October by Robert Frost

While we still have sunny days on the horizon, it is clear that October is here by the way the leaves have begun to turn. With autumn comes not only crows calling above the forest, hushed October mornings, and changing leaves, but also plenty of indoor poetry readings and lectures — plus a few Halloween events to get you in the mood for the season.

For families with small children, Powell’s Books is hosting a Kids’ Story Time with Ryan T. Higgins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. Bring the kids to a Halloween-themed story time where families will hear about Bruce the Bear, who really dislikes Halloween. In Bruce and the Legend of Soggy Hollow, Bruce’s family (consisting of mice and geese) will do their best to get Bruce in the Halloween spirit and show him the holiday isn’t so scary after all — despite the appearance of a spooky campfire ghost.

M.R. O’Connor looks into the complex world of fighting and preventing wildfires.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more sobering, journalist M.R. O’Connor will be at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 to discuss her newest nonfiction release, Ignition: Lighting Fires in a Burning World. This investigation into the science of wildfires looks at using controlled burning in forests and densely vegetated areas to help minimize wildfires’ devastating effects, such as the 2.48 million acres burned so far this year in more than 45,000 fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Through first-hand experience traveling to North America’s oldest forests, standing side by side with firefighters and “pyrotechnicians,” and researching archeological and ethnoecological materials, O’Connor delivers a message for a world with an increasingly chaotic climate: Something must be done. If it isn’t, O’Connor suggests, the consequences may be dire for us all.

Week 1: Oct. 1-7

Pendleton Fall Book Haul
Presented by Pendleton Public Library
10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7
Pendleton Public Library
502 S.W. Dorion Ave., Pendleton

The Pendleton library is weeding its adult fiction collection, and this is your chance to stock up on fall reading at $3 per bagful. Books include those that have not been checked out in at least 5 years, are duplicates, or are being replaced with updated editions. For even more used books in Pendleton, check out the Pendleton Friends of the Library book sale, Oct. 26-28 at the Pendleton Convention Center.

Week 2: Oct. 8-14

Reading: Tracy Daugherty and Jon Lewis
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland

Annie Bloom’s Books will welcome author Tracy Daugherty to discuss his new release, Larry McMurtry: A Life, which looks at the life and career of the celebrated Pulitzer-Prize-winning American author. He will be accompanied by Jon Lewis, University Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at Oregon State University, talking about his book Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture and how film, Hollywood, and celebrity culture affected the counterculture generation of the 1960s.

Two Poets: Amber Flame and Sunu P. Chandy
Presented by Broadway Books
6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct, 11
Broadway Books
1714 N.E. Broadway St., Portland

Sunu P. Chandy, poet, social justice advocate, and civil rights attorney, will discuss her newest poetry collection, My Dear Comrades, detailing her experiences as a parent, woman, attorney, member of the LGBTQ community, and daughter of South Asian immigrants. She will be joined by Amber Flame sharing Apocrifa, “a nongendered love story told in verse” exploring the line between commitment and freedom.

Timeless Feminist Wisdom: A Poetic Conversation Between Adela Zamudio and Adrienne Rich
Presented by Literary Arts
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11 
Literary Arts
925 SW Washington St., Portland

Portland Playhouse Roald Dahl Matilda the Musical Portland Oregon

Lynette Yetter, Pushcart Prize nominated poet and translator of Bolivian feminist poet Adela Zamudio (1854-1928), will be joined by Sara Guest, Portland-area teacher of the work of poet Adrienne Rich (1929-2012). Together, they will create a “conversation” between the writers in honor of Zamudio’s birthday. And yes, there will be cake.

Craig Thompson will share his work Oct. 14 at Cannon Beach Library.

NW Author’s Series Presents Craig Thompson
Presented by Cannon Beach Library
2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock, Cannon Beach

Craig Thompson, Portland-based award-winning graphic novelist, cartoonist, and author of Habibi, will be at Cannon Beach Library to read excerpts of his work and discuss art and writings. He will also talk about his graphic memoir, Blankets, and consider its effect since publication 20 years ago on the graphic novel and literary communities.

Week 3: Oct. 15-21

Poetry Reading: Dale Champlin and Francis Opila
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland

Local poet and Pushcart Prize nominee Dale Champlin will read from Isadora, a novel written in verse about a lonely woman who calls herself “Old Shoe” and spends her days reminiscing on youth. She will be joined by Pacific Northwest-based poet Francis Opila, reading from his debut collection Conference of the Crows, written between 2010 and 2022.

Poetry Reading: Joy Manesiotis and Valerie Witte
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy., Portland

Joy Manesiotis, recipient of the New Measure Poetry Prize and the New Issues Poetry Prize, will read from her newly published collection, Revoke. Based on her visual art and film training, Manesiotis utilizes repetition, musicality, and fragmentation to consider loss, motherhood, grief, and other human experiences. Manesiotis will be accompanied by Portland-based Valerie Witte, author of a game of correspondence, reading from her collection A Rupture in the Interiors.

Week 4: Oct. 22-31

Author Event: Bob Welch
Presented by Tsunami Books
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26
Tsunami Books
2585 Willamette St., Eugene

Bob Welch, Oregon Book Award finalist and award-winning former columnist for The Register-Guard in Eugene, will be at Tsunami Books for a meet-and-greet book signing for his new release, Seven Summers (And a Few Bummers): My Adventures Hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Based on his time spent hiking the PCT, Welch delivers a funny and transparent look at his triumphs and challenges while living on the trail.

Classicist Mary Beard appears Oct. 26 as part of the 39th season of Portland Arts & Lectures.

Portland Arts & Lectures 2023: Mary Beard
Presented by Literary Arts
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 S.W. Broadway St., Portland
$88-$344 season tickets

Mary Beard, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, will speak as part of Literary Arts’ 39th Portland Arts & Lectures series. Her forthcoming release, Emperor of Rome: Ruling the Ancient Roman World, continues her work as one of the most famous classicists of her time. Tickets to the event are available in subscription packs on the Literary Arts website.

Spooky Poetry Slam with OSU Cascades
Presented by Roundabout Books
6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31
Roundabout Books
900 N.W. Mt. Washington Drive, No. 110, Bend

What better way to celebrate spooky season than with a macabre Halloween-themed poetry slam? Put on a costume and stop by Roundabout Books to hear spooky and scary original poems, or sign up to read your own under the shop’s Harry Potter candles. Readers each receive 5 minutes to read one to three poems.

Amy Leona Havin is a writer, choreographer, and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, and is the Artistic Director of Portland-based multi-media dance company The Holding Project. Her works can be read in Humana Obscura, San Diego Poetry Annual, The Dust Magazine, The Chronicle, Mountain Bluebird Magazine, and others, and she has been shortlisted for the Bridport International Writing Competition Prize in Poetry. Havin’s artistic process is rooted in classical and somatic movement practices, non-fiction writing, and honoring the landscape of the natural world.


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