Authors, Films and Día de Muertos: Oregon Arts and Cultural Events in November

November is just around the corner, and with a new month comes new cultural opportunities in the Northwest. OPB Speaker and Producer Donald Orr sat down with OPB All Things Considered host Crystal Ligori to discuss upcoming events for people looking to fill their arts and culture glasses to the brim in the coming weeks. Listen to or read a lightly edited transcript of their conversation below.

Crystal Ligori: So what do you have for us?

Orr: First, the annual Portland Literary Arts Festival is back this year, and there are plenty of writing classes, workshops, and author talks during the first week of November. All leading up to the festival on Saturday, November 5 at the Portland Art Museum and neighboring venues. These include authors of fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, children’s books, and more.

Ligori: Anyone in particular we should be looking out for?

Orr: Yes, one event I want to highlight is a conversation with poet and writer Kwame Alexander. He is a New York Times bestselling author and the Morning Edition Poet.

He’ll be talking with OPB Think Out Loud host Dave Miller about his latest book, The Door of No Return. It is a young adult novel set in 1860 and deals with the history of slavery through the eyes of a young boy growing up in Ghana. Here is Alexander reading a passage from the novel:

Kwame Alexander: [from the poetically crafted chapter titled “Terror”]:

On the other hand
on the door

is the edge
from the mighty blue

that Nana Mosi
has talked about

which I have dreamed of
body of water

so great
and large

he could breathe
a million clouds

drag the moon
through her giant waves

but this is not a dream
I’m trying to get out of

that roaring blue
is a raging nightmare

is a monstrous mouth
and is wide enough

to swallow us up
whole.

Orr: You’ll be able to hear Alexander talk about his latest book, The Door of No Return, with OPB’s Think Aloud host Dave Miller Saturday, Nov. 5 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland. In addition, many other OPB hosts will interview authors at the festival. You can find a full list of talks and programming at literary-arts.org.

Ligori: I love a good book festival, can’t wait! How about later in the month?

Orr: We’ve got two back-to-back queer film festivals coming to Portland in mid-November. QDoc is the only festival of its kind in the country that focuses on queer documentaries – and our friends at Oregon Art Beat are screening a short documentary about mixed media artist Alison Wonder. He works with intricate miniatures and dolls, creates custom costumes and props for on-location photo shoots.

Here’s Alison Wonder talking about the process:

I think the biggest gift I gave myself creatively was making mistakes. Like, you know, we’re just going to try it. If it’s a mistake, we can start over. And sometimes they work and it’s great.

Alison Wonder

Orr: You can join Allison and “Oregon Art Beat” producer Eric Slade for a screening of “Allison Wonder: Master of Dolls” and see much more at the QDoc Film Festival. It opens at the Hollywood Theater the weekend of Friday, November 11.

And the Portland Queer Film Festival takes place right after, Nov. 15-Nov. 20 at Cinema 21. You can find festival passes online at Qdocfilmfest.org and PDXqueerfilm.com

Ligori: OK, I’m marking my calendar. Anything else for us?

Orr: One last thing to add: Día de Muertos is coming up and it’s an opportunity to remember loved ones who have passed away and honor their memory. The Oregon Community Foundation’s Latin American Partnership Program and CAPACES Leadership Institute are holding a Día de Muertos event at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. They will have live performances and a traditional Día de Muertos altar. This is on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Ligori: Donald, thank you so much for joining me and telling us what we can expect in arts and culture.

Orr: Thanks Crystal

Ligori: It was OPB’s Donald Orr. You can find all of our programming and arts coverage online at OPB.org/culture.

Sarah Padilla’s West Linn Day of the Dead altar, shown in this 2021 file photo, includes figurines and memorials for family members and a beloved pet. Chemeketa Community College in Salem will host live performances and a traditional Día de Muertos altar on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.

Courtesy of Sarah Padilla

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