TEXTS SENT 11/20/13: "I am going to cry." "I am crying right now." "[emoticon of crying, smiling face]"
Reason: The sure, sober fireworks of Portlander Mary Szybist's stirring acceptance speech and reading at the National Book Awards: "There is plenty that poetry cannot do, but the miracle of course is how much it can do, how much it does do." Her beautiful, searching collection Incarnadine rightfully won the National Book Award for Poetry.
Text sent 10/4/13: "I feel whole again."
Reason: Portland finally stopped holding our breath for the comeback of Reading Frenzy, which reappeared in a charming, perfect new space on North Mississippi. Portland feels whole again with Chloe Eudaly's careful eye on the zine scene.
Text sent 4/8/13: "Why do any other states publish books? OBA > NBA"
Reason: The 2013 Oregon Book Award winners were stacked: among others, Ismet Prcic took the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction for his novel Shards, a disorienting novel about a fictional Ismet Prcic; Zachary Schomburg's Fjords, Vol. 1 took home the poetry prize; and Storm Large kept adding honorifics to her name, which now must include "Oregon Book Award-winning memoirist."
Text sent 11/7/13: "omg a kid in a ghost costume is reading Zachary Schomburg right now"
Reason: Liz Mehl and Justin Rigamonti's Portland Poetry Press Week was something truly new and thrilling, as five local poets' work was presented by "models." A young boy in a homemade ghost costume reading new work by Zachary Schomburg remains one of the most memorable moments of 2013.
Text sent dozens of times, never accurately: "I think I just saw Reese Witherspoon?"
Reason: Portland author Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir Wild was picked up by Fox Searchligh and adapted by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity), with Reese Witherspoon starring as Strayed. Filming began in Oregon in fall.
Related text sent 11/30/13: "Obama <3 Strayed"
Reason: On Small Business Saturday (the day after Black Friday), the Obamas went book shopping for Christmas. While they didn't necessarily support a lot of small presses—how great would it be if Barack bought Portland poet James Gendron's Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) for Joe Biden?—they did buy a copy of Wild.
Text sent throughout year: "Kevin Sampsell Kevin Sampsell Kevin Sampsell Kevin Sampsell"
Reason: The ubiquitous books maven had a fantastic year, starting a new outdoor reading series through his Future Tense Books, releasing an expanded version of Gary Lutz's incredible Partial List of People to Bleach, guest curating Wordstock, and seeing his own novel This Is Between Us published by Portland's own Tin House Books.
Text sent 10/2/13: "I cnna srr bu dicllan s NLLLNG T" (possible translation: "I can't see, but Dickman's NAILING IT.")
Reason: Wordstock 2013 featured the first-ever LitHop PDX, a drunken bar crawl up SE Hawthorne, each reading at a different bar. For me, the night ended with James Gendron and Matthew Dickman reading at the Eagles Lodge, where both poets were, to my drunken ears, hilarious and cutting in equal measure.