Prediction: Wordstock is going to be good this year.
While it could have continued to stagnate under the joy-killing fluorescents of the Convention Center, the festival--under the executive direction of Greg Netzer--has this year made some crucial moves in the direction of cultural relevance. (Let's be honest: The big book fair of years past was never as much fun as it seemed like it should be.) In addition to the book fair, Wordstock has partnered with other arts organizations such as Literary Arts and the IPRC for events outside of the Convention Center's author programming, making the fest as a whole feel considerably more vibrant.
When I interviewed Netzer for this week's feature, he mentioned that he was particularly excited about tonight's Superstar Poetry Slam at the Bagdad: The six participating poets include a two-time National Poetry Slam Individual Champion (Portlander Anis Mojgani) and a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion (Buddy Wakefield).
Show starts at 9, doors at 8, $15
Also tonight, Literary Arts presents poet W.S. Merwin; ticket info here.
In addition to the poetry slam and Literary Arts teamup, they've included the IPRC's annual Text Ball in their programming (it's on Saturday); there's a Wordstock-themed LiveWire on Saturday; and the Oregon Book Awards are on Sunday night. And, as mentioned on Think Out Loud this morning in one of the most graceless transitions I've ever heard on the radio, the Stumptown Comics Fest will have a presence at Wordstock as well. (It went something like... "Obama will be our next president. There's a graphic novel about Obama. The Smith/Merkley race is still contested. It shouldn't be hard to find someone to write the Jeff Merkley graphic novel, since there are so many comics creators in Portland. Some of them will be at Wordstock.") This year's programming also sees an increased emphasis on both genre fiction (mystery, science fiction and fantasy, graphic novels) and local writers. (Check out the website for a complete list of participating authors as well as 50-word essays by local authors--it's the "Portland on Portland" button at the top right.)