On a warm fall day, October 14th 2022 to be exact, I had the pleasure of strolling into the Stacks Cafe–welcomed by an impressive community library decorating the walls; a smiling barista; and parsed out members of the local Portland literary community. Primarily, those conceived by the Portland State University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.
The gathering quickly grew quiet as Thea Prieto, editor of the literary magazine The Gravity of the Thing (featured alongside Matthew Robinson above), approached the microphone and introduced the newly released compilation piece: Stranged Writing: A Literary Taxonomy. The compilation, offered at the merch table managed by editor Matthew Robinson, is packaged in a hardcover bound book with a prestigious locally screen printed black and white cover. Thea held it in her hands as she read an excerpt from a contributor that was unable to make it.
Next up was Joshua James Amberson, a Two Plum Press published author and creative writing teacher. Amberson read us his enthralling excerpt from the compilation that explored the idea of human relationships and eye contact. In the middle of his reading, he asked the audience to make eye contact with the person next to them for the duration of the rest of the excerpt. This powerful exercise not only brought the audience’s undivided attention to Amberson’s reading, but it seemed to foster a connection between those sharing the space.
Lucie Bonvalet, originally from Dordogne, France, but long time resident of Portland, Oregon–shared her nourishing and soothing prose to the audience as we all intently paid attention to her literary art spoken so gently to our ears.
Ben Kessler, Portland State University’s very own creative writing professor and published author, soon took the stage after. Sharing part of his excerpt from the compilation depicting a story of life under the unique structure of ‘how to build a box’ instructions.
After about an hour of assorted readings from various excerpts of the book, the reading was concluded by Prieto’s closing that detailed the interwoven network of local authors, artists, and literary community that connected to cultivate this well-thought-out, piece of literary art, titled, “Stranged Writing.”
You can find your copy on their website, thegravityofthething.com.