October 30th, 2008 5:33 pm | by KELLY CLARKE News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

LIVE REVIEW: Loggernaut, the Scary edition.

ham sketch
Local writer Sean Patrick Hill was nice enough to send us a report from the most recent edition of Portland's excellent Loggernaut Reading Series:

Wednesday, Oct. 29 at Urban Grind:

When Loggernaut Reading Series co-founder Erin Ergenbright asked me if I had been to one the readings within its three-and-a-half year existence, I was embarrassed to say, “No.” Then again, when I asked Director Jesse Lichtenstein if they usually got the kind of crowd that arrived at the Urban Grind on this Wednesday night—he said it was unusual.

So it was that more than 100 people showed up on for the new season of Loggernaut literary readings. The Northeast coffee shop was filled to capacity, the audience attentive, customers kindly asked to refrain from ordering espresso shots with steamed milk. In keeping with tradition, three writers—one poet and two prose writers—attended to a one-word theme: “Scary,” appropriately enough.

I hoped to get a flavoring of what is happening in Portland's literary community, and I got it in three shots, all wildly different. Ergenbright initiated the night by dredging up Ken Russell's horrible Gothic, which explains (albeit ridiculously) the conception of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. But what's scary today, she noted, is not so much monsters or “that little whiff of death,” but politics.

And so Lidia Yuknavitch was introduced as a “writer with hunger.” She read a memoir, “The Man in the Woods,” in which she draws on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, comparing her childhood self to Scout, or more precisely, Scout in the famous and near deadly ham costume. Her memory spirals to her own childhood friend, Brody, who endured a life of abuse. “This tree,” she read, “keeps secrets good.”

Rodney Koeneke shifted into absolute absurdist, at times hilarious, poetry, neatly dividing into five scary themes: Monsters, the Economy, Slovenian Intellectuals, Adult Contemporary Music, and Death. I was introduced to the concept of FLARF both in definition and poems. His reading was remarkably well-balanced, sailing from “Pizza Kitty” to “Elegy for my Grandmother.”

The evening ended with Tom Spanbauer, leader of the Dangerous Writing workshops, who read a piece concerning sex, homophobic telephone calls, and a gruff furnace repairman caught in a compromising position. The evening ended warmly, in laughter.

The inauguration of the new season of readings was tight, despite some initial microphone trouble. The audience—literati, students, myself—was pleased. If anything, we found new names for fear: ham suits, the song hits of Diane Warren, and being caught in the sexual act by a furnace repairman.

—Sean Patrick Hill

Ham image courtesy of garygackstatter.com.
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