The Writing Life: reflections by a working writer. The Writing Life

Reflections of a working writer, a university screenwriting professor, and the editor of Oregon Literary Review.

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Charles Deemer

Oregon Literary Review

MFA, Playwriting, University of Oregon

Writing faculty, Portland State University (part-time)

Retired playwright and screenwriter.
Active novelist, librettist and teacher.

Email: cdeemer(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God
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The Writing Life...
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The Writing Life II

(Posts archived here are from 01/10/03 - 10/31/06)

Monday, May 23, 2005  
The "Portland Reading Series" in which I participated last night is a very successful program. There have something good going here, having created a strong literary community. It's a very young crowd, almost all in their twenties, young writers and young families who bring their kids to the readings. It's not an exclusive community, or I didn't get that impression.

I was there for one reason only: the reading took place in a Portland neighborhood to which I feel special affinity because in 1967 I lived there and wrote my first short stories to get accepted by the literary magazines. This is where I became a writer, quite literally. The neighborhood was very different then, rundown and low rent, sprinkled with prostitution and after hours clubs (where you could drink bourbon in a coffee cup from 2a.m. till sunrise, where the police made their rounds and left you alone). So I arrived at the reading early to walk the neighborhood and reminisce about my writing roots.

There were seven readers and a string band scheduled for the night, which made for a longer night than I wanted. I was the third reader and left right afterwards. I'd chosen two short comic pieces because I knew they would play well, as indeed they did. The audience loved my performance. But I didn't feel like basking in glory and such. Indeed, being so much older than everyone else, and being the only one there who was not in a large group of fans and families, I felt like the odd ball out, which actually was fine since my motives for being there were so specific -- I was paying homage to the gods for their help in 1967. This done, I left.

But it was nice to see the old neighborhood in such vibrant shape, filled with young energy. Time marches on and all that. I personally haven't been a part of a literary community like that since the 1980s, in northwest Portland, when I was a playwright-in-residence, and even more so before that on the east coast at Salisbury State College (now university). Since the 80s my journey has been more that of a lone wolf, especially recently since outliving all my closest friends.

I had a great time last night. Probably one of the more memorable readings of my career. I don't give that many, but this was one of the most fun for me. Leaving afterwards was perfect, too. Literature as hit and run.

5/23/2005 07:18:00 AM | 0 comments

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