Andrew Proctor Is Enriching Portland’s Intellectual Life With Literary Arts

“Andrew is passionate, and he believes in all of us and our ability to connect our community with storytelling.”

Andrew Proctor (Courtesy of Andrew Proc)

Age: 49

Occupation: Executive director of Literary Arts

Why He Matters: Literary Arts is the central nervous system of Portland’s ambitious and impressive literary scene. And its core is Proctor, an affable Canadian whose staggering résumé includes working as an editor at HarperCollins and studying under Andrew Motion, the 1999-2009 English poet laureate.

Literary Arts holds one of the most impressive author series in America, supports 1,500 local writers, and runs the massive Portland Book Festival (this year’s edition featured 100 authors and was attended by over 5,000 people). The organization also produces Verselandia, the citywide poetry slam championship in which 20 high school students compete at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall each year.

For Proctor, the aim of Literary Arts is at once sweeping and simple: “We’re helping fuel the creative life of our city, and in the process, we’re creating one of the most vibrant and distinguished centers for readers and writers in the country.”

Biggest Influence: “My brother Gordon Proctor. He died this year at the age of 52 of COVID-related illnesses. He was a painter and a musician, and growing up, he was the coolest person I knew. He influenced both who I am and who I am not. His struggles with depression and alcoholism taught me a lot about humility and empathy.”

Greatest Personal Achievement: During the pandemic, Proctor persuaded his board to donate $150,000 from its endowment to create an emergency fund for local writers, with an emphasis on BIPOC writers “who we knew were being disproportionately impacted.”

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: “I used to be a skateboarder as a teenager. For a while, it was all I did. These days, I like to watch YouTube skate videos, especially those old Powell Peralta ones from the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

Best Quote About Him: “Andrew is passionate, and he believes in all of us and our ability to connect our community with storytelling.” —Olivia Jones Hall, director of youth programs at Literary Arts

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