Annual book festival returns, notable speakers attend

November Portland Art Museum event includes author Robin Pecknold, poet Kwame Alexander

Illustration of two people holding books.
Sofia Reeves / The Mossy Log

PORTLAND Book Festival (PBF) is a yearly event hosted by Literary Arts dedicated to bringing acclaimed authors to downtown Portland. This year it is returning on Nov. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Set at the Portland Art Museum (PAM) and occupying neighboring venues such as the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the festival formerly known as Wordstock is renowned for its stacked literary lineup. In years past, attendees have rubbed shoulders with acclaimed novelist Colson Whitehead, poet Danez Smith and Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, among other high-profile figures.

This year’s lineup includes Robin Pecknold, the lead singer of Fleet Foxes, and Newbery Medal recipient Kwame Alexander. Also, the billed conversation between members of the Bronx-based culinary group “Ghetto Gastro” and acclaimed Portland- based chef Gregory Gourdet is surely a must-see. In addition to the lineup, there will be workshops for aspiring authors, as well as a market hall with books and other printed goods for sale. Per Portland tradition, a host of food trucks are promised as well.

PBF also caters to a wide array of genres, not just nonfiction and fiction novels. Poetry, young adult, middle grade, picture book and popup authors are also featured. One picture book author of interest is Vanessa Brantley-Newton, a self-taught illustrator who is known for works such as “Grandma’s Purse,” “Just Like Me” and “Becoming Vanessa.”

The event also features early access to the exhibitor fair the night before the official start date so festival goers do not need to lug around their books throughout the day. The fair will be located in the Grand and Fields Ballrooms with music by DJ Jimbo, crafts with Yuki Origami and PBF printmaking with Independent Publishing Resource Center.

With Literary Arts’ return since the start of the pandemic, some safety guidelines are in place though most will be lifted by the time of the festival. However, events at external venues may have their own requirements.

According to PBF’s official online policy, “After November 1, proof of Covid-19 vaccine will no longer be required for in-person classes, seminars and events, including Portland Book Festival classes, that take place at Literary Arts. Masks will still be strongly encouraged.”

The Portland Book Festival has been a standout event in years past, and this year will surely be no different. The festival will be held Nov. 5. Passes for the event are $15 in advance and $25 at the door, with optional add-on events for an additional cost. General Admission Passes include a $5 book fair voucher and entry into PAM for no additional cost to pass holders.

Add-on events include, the Friday Night Book Market, “Mean Baby: Selma Blair in conversation with Esmé Weijun Wang” and “Carrie Soto Is Back: Taylor Jenkins Reid in conversation with Cheryl Strayed.” Admission to the night market is an additional $15, while the two author events have a sliding scale of options. For those interested, the festival also sells Umbrella Passes which are all-inclusive with reserved seats for the add-on events, signed copies of their books and an exclusive PBF tote bag.

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