November is just around the corner, and with the new month come new cultural opportunities in the Northwest. OPB announcer and producer Donald Orr sat down with OPB “All Things Considered” host Crystal Ligori to discuss upcoming events for people looking to fill their arts and culture cups to the brim in the weeks ahead. Listen in, or read a lightly edited transcript of their conversation, below.
Crytal Ligori: So what do you have for us?
Orr: First up, we have the Literary Arts annual Portland Book Festival is back this year, and there are a slew of writing classes, seminars and author conversations the first week of November. They all lead up to the festival on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Portland Art Museum and neighboring venues. They feature authors of fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, children’s books and more.
Ligori: Anyone specific we should be looking out for?
Orr: Yeah, one event I wanna highlight is a conversation with poet and author Kwame Alexander. He’s a New York Times bestselling author and is Morning Edition’s poet-in-residence.
He’ll be talking with OPB “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller about his newest book, “The Door of No Return.” It’s a young adult novel set in 1860 that deals with the history of slavery through the eyes of a young boy growing up in Ghana. Here’s Alexander, reading a passage from the novel:
Kwame Alexander: [from the poetically crafted chapter titled “Terror”]:
of the door
is the edge
of the mighty blue
that Nana Mosi
has talked about
that I have dreamed of
a body of water
it could breathe
a million clouds
drag the moon
across its gigantic waves
but this is not a dream
I am trying to climb out of
this roaring blue
is an angry nightmare
is a monstrous mouth
and it is wide enough
to swallow us
Orr: You’ll be able to hear Alexander talk about his latest book, “The Door of No Return,” with OPB’s “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller, Saturday, Nov. 5 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland. In addition, lots of other OPB hosts will be interviewing authors at the festival. You can find a full list of conversations and programming at literary-arts.org.
Ligori: I love a good book festival, can’t wait! What about later in the month?
Orr: Coming up in mid-November we’ve got two back-to-back queer film festivals coming to Portland. QDoc is the only festival of its kind in the country that focuses on queer documentaries — and our friends at Oregon Art Beat are screening a short documentary about mixed media artist, Allison Wonder. He works with intricate miniatures and dolls, creating custom costumes and props for on-location photo shoots.
Here’s Allison Wonder, talking about the process:
“— Allison Wonder
I think the biggest gift I gave myself with being creative was to make mistakes. It’s like, you know, we’re just gonna try it. If it’s a mistake we can start over. And sometimes they work, and it’s great.”
Orr: You can join Allison and “Oregon Art Beat” producer Eric Slade for a screening of “Allison Wonder: Master of Dolls,” and see much more at the QDoc Film Festival. It kicks off at the Hollywood Theater, the weekend of Friday, Nov. 11.
And the Portland Queer Film Festival takes place right after, Nov. 15-Nov. 20 at Cinema 21. You can find festival passes online at Qdocfilmfest.org and PDXqueerfilm.com
Ligori: OK, I’m marking my calendar. Anything else for us?
Orr: One last thing to plug: Día de Muertos is coming up, and it’s an opportunity to remember loved ones who’ve died and honor their memory. The Oregon Community Foundation Latino Partnership Program and CAPACES Leadership Institute are having a Día de Muertos event at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. They’ll have live performances and a traditional Día de Muertos altar. That’s on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Ligori: Donald, thanks so much for joining me and filling us in on what we can expect in the arts & culture realm.
Orr: Thanks Crystal
Ligori: That was OPB’s Donald Orr. You can find all of our arts programming and coverage online at OPB.org/culture.