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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (July 23, 2015)
Saturday, July 25
Noon – Godfather’s Books, 1108
Commercial St., Astoria
2:30 p.m. – Fort George Lovell
Showroom, 426 14th St., Astoria
6:30 p.m. – Big O Saloon, 89523
Oregon Highway 202, Astoria
Stories. Poems. Tales. Songs. Secrets. Beer. Contests. Surf Rock. July 25.
Story by DWIGHT CASWELL
As a publisher and writer,” says Matt Love, “I’m
interested in non-traditional ways of exhibiting
literary work. There’s not enough richness in tra-
ditional literary events.”
So Love decided to create his own series of hap-
penings. “Over the past decade I’ve been to a lot of
events,” he says, “and I think I know what connects
with people.” There would be no quiet readings of er-
udite prose or abstruse poetry before decorous gather-
ings. There would be no tea or ¿ nger food, no lectures
on how to ¿ nd an agent. It would
be, Love says, “outside academia,
just joy.” He envisioned writers
and musicians coming to unusual
venues like the troubadours that
visited medieval villages.
“I’ve had my best times in
non-traditional venues,” Love says,
“because you never know what’s
going to happen next.”
What he came up with is the Ore-
gon Story Sessions, which take place
this Saturday, July 25. The three ven-
ues, Love says, “exude hard-core Oregon.” Only the ¿ rst
site is a bookstore, and there the resemblance to ordinary
literary gatherings ends. The next event takes place at Fort
George Brewery in Astoria, which brewed a beer for the
event, followed by readings and a dance party at Love’s sec-
ond home, the Big O Saloon in Olney.
Love says, “Over the past decade I’ve seen a lot of events,
and I’ve learned what connects with people. I’m looking for a
non-traditional audience for words and even live music.” Sim-
ilar events have grown in popularity around Oregon, and when
Love held an event at the Big O last year, over 100 people at-
tended. He was tapping into something that was, “reÀ ective and
moving, with an overarching theme of fun. Storytelling is fun.”
In an increasingly corporatized and digitized world, the Ore-
gon Story Sessions are, Love says, “completely outside the cor-
porate mainstream. You couldn’t do this at Barnes and Noble. It’s
a different way to perform and connect with people without the
bigness of it all. You gotta bring the show, cut through the traf¿ c,
get their attention.”
The Sessions kick off at noon Saturday at Godfather’s Books in
Astoria (they put shelves on casters to create a performance space)
with readings, music and a literary trivia contest for prizes. Fireball-
ing poet Tim Spoul will take the stage and present his latest collection
of poems, “Newported A 3oetic Field Guide to the 3aci¿ c &oast.”
Love calls Sproul, “the Steve Prefontaine of Oregon poetry,” and “an
incredible performance poet, not what people usually think a poet is.”
Following Sproul will be Oregon Book Award-winning and
Scappoose-based author Willy Vlautin, who is also the musical lead-
er behind the roots rock bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines.
Several members from Astoria reggae band Ma Barley will accom-
pany the readings on À ute and percussion.
Fort George Brewery’s Lovell Showroom is the next stop, at
2:30 p.m. There you can sample the Fort’s take on
a 1975 camping beer, Booty’s Back Lager, which
was released in conjunction with the publication
of Love’s latest book, “A Nice Piece of Astoria.”
Love calls the beer delicious, crisp and refreshing,
but there’s more to this session than the beer. Vlau-
tin, Sproul and Love will swap songs and tales,
and Love promises an appearance by famed (and
long-dead) explorer Meriwether Lewis, “who will
apologize for his earlier disparaging remarks about
Astoria and hoist a beer or two.” By what means
Lewis will appear Love refuses to divulge.
Matt Love may be the greatest living author-
ity on the bars, taverns, saloons, pubs, taprooms, dives, gin mills,
and roadhouses of Oregon. At least, as he says, “I’ve written more
about Oregon taverns than any other Oregon writer in history, and
the Big O is one of the coolest in the state.”That’s where the ses-
sions wrap up, beginning at 6:30 p.m., with readings, music, a
Most Dangerous Astoria story contest, and a spirited set of surf
rock from that sizzling Lincoln &ity trio the Retroactive Gam-
ma Rays. Get there early and enjoy the surf rock burger special
(teriyaki, ham and grilled pineapple) and another frosty glass of
Booty’s Back Lager.
The Oregon Story Sessions are all about calling attention to Ore-
gon writers and musicians, and not just those on the bill. “If someone
in the audience has a poem to recite or a song to sing,” Love says,
“We’ll put ‘em right up there on the stage.” He’s invited local busk-
ers, too, in hopes that they have songs about Astoria.
“Drop in, hear some stories, and support Oregon artists by buy-
ing direct,” says Love. It’s all free, and he hopes it will become “a
cool Oregon annual event.” He pauses, thinking perhaps of the dance
party at the end of the night. A faraway look comes into Matt Love’s
eyes. “Surf rock and the sun going down. It’s gonna be awesome.”
The Oregon Story
Sessions are all about
calling attention to
Oregon writers and
Photo by Dwight Caswell
Above: Astoria author Matt Love has organized Oregon Story Sessions, an event set in three
locations in Astoria on Saturday, July 25, celebrating the writers, music and stories of Oregon.
The event will end at 6:30 p.m. at the Big O Saloon.
Right: Matt Love’s 13th book about Oregon, “A Nice Piece of Astoria,” is a hybrid work of
creative nonfi ction that examines and updates the new and classic stories of Astoria.
Submitted photo by
City garage surf
rock trio the Ret-
ma Rays will
perform at 6:30
July 25 at the Big
O Saloon during
the Oregon Story
12 | July 23, 2015 | coastweekend.com
By TIM SPROUL
Terry needs to catch 400 King salmon
to buy back his boat.
The bank put it in hock and padlocked it
last week to the number seven dock.
Under the security camera’s black eye, he breaks it free
with a ball peen hammer and a half rack of Oly.
He siphons gas from a big-ticket trawler
and motors out to the great American fi sh lottery.
He keeps everything he needs in a Folger’s can--
fl ip phone, Little Debbie Snack Cakes
and a 2-inch hex bolt he screws tight from the bilge pump
to where dreams are held together with duct tape.
There’s a storm coming and his GPS is broken.
The ocean shrugs the boat nonchalantly
and ice melts in the cooler.
“400 Kings and this girl’s mine,” he says
to the wind vicious with indiff erence.
Above: Oregon poet Tim
Sproul will present his
latest collection of poet-
ry, “Newported: A Poetic
Field Guide to the Ore-
gon Coast,” during the
Oregon Story Sessions
Left: “Newported: A Po-
etic Field Guide to the
Pacifi c Coast” by Tim
He plies past long gone classmates
who inherited Dad’s big boat
and hand out iPhones to their kids like candy.
He eats the broken glass of open-ocean
feeling luck’s current shifting under his feet.
He burns through a pack of smokes
and hangs on to what’s in front of
him — coff ee cup,
the old wheel polished by want,
and this one night — the anchor
around his neck like a guiding star,
chance dragging in his wake.
“The Free” by Scappoose author Willy
Vlautin won the Readers Choice Award in
the 2015 Oregon Book Awards.
Scappoose author Willy Vlautin will follow poet Tim Sproul on stage at
Godfather’s Books and then swap stories with Sproul and Matt Love at Fort
George Brewery during the Oregon Story Sessions event July 25.
July 23, 2015 | coastweekend.com | 13