That Post-Reading Glow

what makes a write around portland reading so special?

Some wander in alone. Some cluster in groups, their nervousness showing in the way they giggle and cling to each other’s arms. The soft, inner illumination of someone’s face as they thumb through a book, first at the table of contents to find their pen name and then they open to the page and see it: their piece in a book.

The end of every Write Around Portland workshop season culminates with a free community reading and the release of a professionally printed anthology of poetry and prose written by our workshop participants. Each writer receives a copy of the book and has the opportunity to read their published piece in front of an audience. Our most recent reading was held on May 18, 2023, at First United Methodist Church in SW Portland, and featured a powerful lineup of dozens of Portland writers.

Photo by Tom Cook

Many have never done such a thing. Some are excited and boldly walk up to get their names on the reader list. Others hold their book close to their chest and shake their head – “No way!” they say when asked Are you going to read tonight? There is no pressure to read. We tell them we’d be excited if they choose to share.

Then it begins. One after another, readers are called up to the podium. Some pieces are short, some are long. Some are humorous, some are heartbreaking. Stories of redemption, longing, gratitude, sweetness, and hope. Poems, tall tales, dreams, memories. There is always laughter and tears in the room. Applause brings a look of relief and pride.

Who comes to these Public readings?

Write Around Portland readings aren’t just about the writers – though it is a significant moment for many of them. They’re a chance for all of us to witness each other’s vulnerability and deepen our empathy. They are about being in the presence of shared humanity and inspiring each other with feats of courage and creative expression. They invite family, friends, supporters of Portland’s literary arts, other writers, and Write Around Portland agency partners to come together and create a shared community through the power of writing.

Write Around Portland’s free reading events are held twice a year in the spring and fall. They are always free, open to the public, close to public transportation, and ADA accessible. We welcome you to come and experience the glow for yourself!

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