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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wordstock Announces New Venue, New Dates for 2015

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 12:44 PM

wordstock-chair.jpg

This is fantastic news: The organizers of Wordstock, which is soon to take over the convention center for its 2013 festival, just announced it will relocate to Portland State's campus in 2015.

PSU is, in every way, a better fit for Portland's biggest books festival: More and better rooms for panels and readings, more food options, an atmosphere that people will actually enjoy being in. I'd a million times rather spend a spring day wandering around PSU than trapped under the convention center's fluorescents.

Yes, a spring day—after this year, the festival will opt out of the insanely busy fall arts season. Per the press release, the move to spring is to "allow Wordstock more time to involve the community in festival planning and participation, particularly public school students, teachers and administrators – a target audience who currently find it challenging to engage so early in the school year." In 2015 the festival will be held on March 13-15; in 2014, according to Wordstock's Executive Director Nancy Ellis, Wordstock will throw some events, but there will be no full-on festival.

One of the things I really appreciate about Wordstock is that the festival's organizers constantly seem to be striving to find new ways to improve it. This year, for example, Portland's staunchest supporter of small presses and indie authors, Kevin Sampsell, was invited on as a guest curator, and he booked great authors like Alyssa Nutting and Jamie Iredell. He also organized an awesome-sounding bar-crawl-with-readings, LitHop PDX, which is something that's needed to happen for a while.

But moving the festival out of the convention center is the single best thing that's happened to it in years. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The convention center is where fun goes to die. More specifically, it's where authors go to read aloud in a noisy room in front of a barely attentive audience; where panels are crammed into conference rooms, and booksellers set up like hucksters at a trade show. (I hate it there. Is that clear? That I hate it?) Maybe, because this year is the last year, I'll be able to muster up some nostalgia for the place. But probably not! Because I hate it.

This year's Wordstock is October 3-6, with a book fair Oct 5-6 at the ... convention center.

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