Portland is a city known for being well read, highly literate, and highly supportive of the literary arts in general. This reputation seems well deserved. Portland is home to the world’s largest bookstore, Powell’s City of Books,boasts one of the best-attended writer’s lecture series in the nation, Portland Arts and Lectures, and houses a great many literary-minded nonprofits, writer’s organizations, and small literary presses like Hawthorne Books and Tin House. Powell’s Books hosts book releases and author events almost every night of the week at their two main locations; many of Portland’s smaller bookstores host readings and author events several nights of the week as well. Writer’s groups, small presses, literary nonprofits, and individual writers stage and promote book releases, themed readings, and other events throughout the year. On almost any night, any time of the year, a person can find somewhere in Portland to listen to a poet, novelist, short-fiction author, or essayist read from their work, usually without resorting to attending an open mic or poetry slam (though there are plenty of those as well).
One of the main points of contact between writers and audiences in Portland are the city’s many ongoing literary reading series. What follows is a look at six Portland reading series, from high-profile literary events that bring touring authors and poets to town, to lowbrow locals-only affairs. For a complete listing of ongoing and single-night literary events, visit Swamplit.