May 4th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Fund Set for Poet Walt Curtis, who Survived the Lair Hill Fire

Walt Curtis

Portland poet Walt Curtis, whose work was the basis for Gus Van Sant's first film, survived the weekend fire at the Great Northwest Bookstore but now needs your financial support, says his friend Mark Woolley.

Curtis had been living in the basement of the historic Lair Hill church-turned-bookshop for several months when the building went up in flames Sunday. Curtis, 68, was in the building but survived the fire unharmed, Woolley says.

As a writer, Curtis is best known for his beat poetry and for Mala Noche, a controversial autobiographical piece about sex with underage Mexican immigrants. Van Sant set the 1977 book to film in 1985. Curtis is also a painter and longtime host of the KBOO poetry show Talking Earth.

Woolley, a former gallery owner and friend of Curtis, says Curtis lost many of his meager possessions in the fire and is staying temporarily with another friend in Lair Hill.

Before moving to his digs in the bookstore, Woolley says Curtis was living in a waterlogged room under the East End club on Southeast Grand Avenue and now badly needs a permanent place of his own.

Donations can be made to the Walt Curtis Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank. A fund to help bookstore owner Phil Wikeland has also been set up at the OnPoint Credit Union under the name "Phil's Fire Fund."

(Photo of Curtis courtesy of Justout.)
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