I just posted a new piece on WritingtheNorthwest.com. It’s about a 1917 profile of Portland, Oregon, in the national magazine Collier’s Weekly. Called “Portland the Spinster,” the article suggests the city is run by a handful of conservative FFPs (First Families of Portland) who lord it over the later arrivals.
I love reading other people’s views of places I love, and I had some fun writing about this one. You’ll find my post here.
There’s a new post up on my WritingtheNorthwest.com site. It looks at the history and vitality of Black newspapers in the Northwest and includes links to the actual pages of some of the oldest ones.
Although there were few African Americans in Seattle in the 1890s, that decade produced 7 new Black newspapers, and while there were almost no African Americans in Portland in 1896, an enterprising young man named Adolphus D. Griffin started a weekly called The New Age for the Black community there that year.
After over 30 readings and other appearances over the past few months, I’m down to my last scheduled talk. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, in room 333, Smith Memorial Union, on the Portland State University campus. If you live in the Portland area, please join us. To mark the occasion, we’ll have copies of Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax available at a discounted price.
A big thank you to those who came to last week’s readings in the Bay Area, where a standing-room-only crowd listened to poet John Beer, author S. T. Georgiou and me talk about our friendship with Robert Lax at City Lights Books in San Francisco, and another good crowd heard me read from Pure Act at Pegasus Books in Berkeley.
Among those in attendance at City Lights were Gerald Nicosia, one of Jack Kerouac’s biographers, and Mike Antonucci, a Bay Area journalist who is the nephew of Lax’s first publisher and close friend, Emil Antonucci. It was fun for me to read a passage from my book about Lax’s friendship with Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in a space where their spirits lingered.
My readings around the country have kept me from writing as much on this blog as I would have liked, and now that they’re over, I hope to write more. Starting some time in March, I plan to try a unique experiment. I’ll be teaching two courses in memoir writing while working on a memoir of my own AND a book on writing about other people. I’m planning to make two posts a week from my research and thinking, one on memoir and one on writing about others (biography). It will be interesting to contemplate how these two types of writing, one looking inward and the other outward, parallel and diverge.