FOR NEARLY two years, on the second Tuesday of the month Matty Byloos and Carrie Seitzinger have hosted one of the most intimate and entertaining literary events in Portland, the Small Doggies reading series. Started in September 2010, the regular meeting centered on poetry, literature, and music, much of it local, and it metastasized quickly into an active online magazine and a quarterly chapbook complementing the live event. In February, Small Doggies Press published its first novel, Variations of a Brother War by J.A. Tyler.
In the midst of all that work and activity, something had to be sacrificed, which is why Tuesday will be the final monthly reading from Small Doggies.
"In the last two years the writing scene has really grown, and there's a lot of places for writers to read and a lot of places to see other writers," says Byloos. "I think in a string of 10 days, there were two or three readings almost every night. The Portland scene is really active. It's impressive, but it's harder to distinguish yourself with all the events."
The couple also emphasized the growing nature of their business and the need to sink more energy into the magazine. Small Doggies magazine launched in summer of 2010, shortly after the couple moved to Portland. Around that time, Byloos also launched a PR and social media business, Small Doggies Omnimedia. Last December, Seitzinger left her day job to work on the company full time. Organizing and hosting a monthly event, while also producing a chapbook to go along with it, requires attention and energy better directed toward a quickly developing business.
But business isn't their only pursuit. Seitzinger is an excellent poet in her own right—her collection Fall Ill Medicine comes out through Small Doggies in July, and a new novel from Byloos is also forthcoming. Organizing an event for local writers and artists proved an effective way to connect with the literary community by providing an open space where people could socialize and share their work. The idea quickly took off, aided by Portland's bustling lit scene. To date, Small Doggies has featured notable locals such as Lidia Yuknavitch, Monica Drake, Alexis Smith, and Zach Schomburg. The engagement of the local scene fueled the series and the website—the series also attracted its share of visiting authors, expanding the horizons of Small Doggies magazine online.
This year has seen the couple complete ongoing personal projects and travel to Holland for a month-long artist retreat and residency, where they were able to refocus and unwind. They plan to host special events centered on releases and other milestones, spread out over the year.
For now, Portland continues to provide a base of operations for Small Doggies, though Byloos and Seitzinger hope to incorporate more travel in the future, organizing events with their contributors and associates in other cities, as well as planning more special events for Portland. Tuesday's reading concludes Small Doggies' run of great nights, with Jac Jemc, Gabriel Blackwell, Live Wire! host Courtenay Hameister, and Portland Poetry Slam organizer Eirean Bradley, plus music from Portland band Muscle and Marrow.