IN SEPTEMBER, Bad Blood convened at ADX for its 13th reading. Two years into its existence, the poetry series had an established track record of popular events featuring poets from Portland and the country at large.
Bad Blood was launched by local writers Drew Swenhaugen, Zach Schomburg, and Joseph Mains. Longtime friends, Bad Blood brought them together professionally. That night at ADX, they announced a new endeavor: the merging of their various independent enterprises. Poor Claudia, the poetry press that Swenhaugen founded and runs with Marshall Walker Lee, would now handle all chapbook production for Octopus Books, Schomburg's longtime imprint. Mains would take the editorial reins of Octopus magazine, while the Bad Blood series would continue under all of their supervision for events, publicity, and community.
"We thought it would be fun, and maybe a little tongue in cheek, to buy each other out. Because this is so not a moneymaking thing. It's almost the antithesis of that because there's no money involved," said Schomburg recently when I spoke with the three of them. Recounting the path to creating this new entity, they all agree it spawned from an already collective sense of dedication and responsibility.
"Everybody was already helping out in each individual thing," said Mains, who teaches at PCC. "In a funny way, consolidating them allows for a lot less bureaucracy."
"It's a way for us to streamline production and officially be on each other's rosters and share editorial duties," adds Swenhaugen.
It's also Portland-specific. "There are more people here that appreciate small things," says Mains. "This just happens to be a place, for its size, that's receptive to that. In a way, it's a type of consumer-based activism."
"Since we've announced it, we've noticed a few more popping up around the country. A reading series combined with a journal and a press might be the new operation," says Swenhaugen.
Joining forces establishes them as a larger presence in Portland's ever-changing literary community. They begin by hosting one of their biggest Bad Blood events to date on Tuesday, November 13, at ADX, featuring Eileen Myles, a New York-based career poet whose most recent book, Snowflake/Different Streets was released last spring by Seattle's Wave Books. Two authors from Octopus Books will be introducing new releases: Patricia Lockwood's Balloon Pop Outlaw Black and Ben Mirov with Hider Roser. Rounding out the evening is Portland's own Donald Dunbar, host of the If Not for Kidnap reading series, with another new release, Eyelid Lick, a dynamic and richly designed collection from Fence Books. These poets represent different aesthetic styles, ranging from sparse to highly experimental. With a lineup featuring nationally known names and established talents, Bad Blood continues to reach further and organize some of the best reading in the country, for free, right here in Portland.
After which the new endeavor plugs right along. The next six months will see the release of two new issues of Octopus magazine, including a special 10th anniversary issue, along with an anthology celebrating that milestone. More books are in the works, including collaborations with other local presses.