Guide to Pickathon 2023 Literary Lineup!
Imagine Story Telling at Pickathon Sunday, Woods Stage. Photo by Rob Kerr, Pickathon Photo Crew Instagram credit @robkerr6
Tuesday July 18, 2023
Imagine Story Telling at Pickathon Sunday, Woods Stage. Photo by Rob Kerr

The power of the spoken word is strong at Pickathon for Lit Sunday, August 6! From internationally acclaimed poets to powerful storytellers, to a popular podcast, to author readings, the Lit Sunday Lineup will delight your mind and expand your horizons. Here’s what we have in store for you!

SPOKEN – 10 am to 11 am Sunday at Woods

Curated by Oregon’s Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani, SPOKEN is Pickathon’s poetry lineup, bringing together renowned poets from across the West Coast. Born in Louisiana but hailing from Portland, slam poet Jae Nichelle has brought in millions of views from her viral poem about anxiety, “Friends with Benefit”, and has a powerful performance style. Sub Pop recording artist Derrick C. Brown is a multi-talented comedian, poet, novelist, and storyteller (he’ll also perform in the Pickathon storytelling lineup, Imagine). Author of a book-length poem structured around and inspired by Erik Satie’s piano compositions, Annelyse Gelman has a wonderfully creative perspective as a writer. Though also originally from Louisiana, Anis Mojgani is a huge presence in Oregon’s poetry community, known for his slam poetry and community organizing. Plus he’s Oregon’s Poet Laureate which is seriously cool.

Jae Nichelle

Louisiana-born and Portland-based, Jae Nichelle is a powerful poetry slam champion who began competing in poetry slams at 15 years old. Her spoken word poems have been featured by Write About Now, Speak Up Poetry Series, and Button Poetry. Additionally, her viral piece about anxiety titled “Friends With Benefits” has amassed millions of views online and counting. Jae’s performance style has been called mesmerizing and raw as she captivates audiences around the globe with her voice. Find her work at jaenichelle.com.

Derrick C. Brown

Derrick C. Brown is a novelist, comedian, poet, Sub Pop recording artist, and storyteller. He is the winner of the 2013 Texas Book of The Year award for Poetry. He is a former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne. He is the owner and president of Write Bloody Publishing, which Forbes and Filter Magazine call “…one of the best independent poetry presses in the country.” He is the author of eight books of poetry and four children’s books. The New York Times calls his work “…a rekindling of faith in the weird, hilarious, shocking, beautiful power of words.” He lives in Los Angeles.

Annelyse Gelman

Annelyse Gelman’s latest book, Vexations (2023, the University of Chicago Press, winner of the 2022 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets), is a book-length poem about a mother and daughter navigating social and ecological collapse. Titled and structured after Erik Satie’s “Vexations” for solo piano—which instructed the pianist about how to prepare to “play this to yourself 840 times in a row”—Vexations is also an experiment in form—poem as guided meditation, the poem as a text score, the poem as furniture music. Gelman is also the author of the poetry collection Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone (2014, Write Bloody), the artist’s book POOL (2020, NECK Press), and the EP About Repulsion (2019, Fonograf Editions). She is the founder and director of Midst (www.midst.press), a digital platform for capturing, saving, and sharing the writing processes of contemporary poets.

Anis Mojgani

Anis Mojgani is the 10th Poet Laureate of Oregon. A national and international poetry slam champion, his work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of the NY Times. The author of six books of poetry,  an opera libretto, and a forthcoming children’s picture book, his latest is titled The Tigers, They Let Me. Originally from New Orleans, Anis lives in Portland Oregon where he serves on the board of the organization, Literary Arts, and can be found making art in his studio and occasionally reading poems from out its window at sunset to others.

IMAGINE – 11 am to 12:30 pm Sunday at Woods

Pickathon’s Storytelling Lineup, called IMAGINE, brings together a diverse and fascinating group of poets, CEOs, filmmakers, air guitarists, and sleep talkers to unveil the stories of their lives and tales gleaned from the wild lives of Northwesterners. Sub Pop recording artist Derrick C. Brown is a multi-talented comedian, poet, novelist, and storyteller. CEO of a consulting firm, Moth StorySlam champion Billy Afghan’s own life and life lessons, from working in over 50 countries and serving time in prison, inspires her storytelling. Arthur Bradford is an Emmy-nominated film director, published author, and host of a live call-in show on XRAY.FM in Portland. Teacher Jenn Hunter Tindle brings an eclectic sense of humor to her stories. Formerly with The Moth, Frayn Masters is now the Executive Producer and Host of the award-winning BACKFENCE PDX live storytelling series and was voted best storyteller by Willamette Week readers.

Derrick C. Brown

Derrick C. Brown is a novelist, comedian, poet, Sub Pop recording artist, and storyteller. He is the winner of the 2013 Texas Book of The Year award for Poetry. He is a former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne. He is the owner and president of Write Bloody Publishing, which Forbes and Filter Magazine call “…one of the best independent poetry presses in the country.” He is the author of eight books of poetry and four children’s books. The New York Times calls his work “…a rekindling of faith in the weird, hilarious, shocking, beautiful power of words.” He lives in Los Angeles.

Billy Afghan

Billy Afghan is the CEO of a global consulting firm that works with organizations to help them do business in ways that work for people and the planet. She has traveled and worked in more than 50 countries, from major capital construction sites and manufacturing floors to C-suite offices and boardrooms. Billy’s family is also global—Americans, Italians, Iranians, Palestinians, and Kenyans. She is married, has raised two sons, surrogated a baby for her sister, and donated a kidney to her brother.  At the age of 20, Billy served four years of a 20-to-life prison sentence. Billy is The Moth Portland GrandSlam Storytelling Champion for 2023 and a Moth StorySlam champion in 2022. She is currently learning how to tell her own story. 

Arthur Bradford

Arthur Bradford is an Emmy-nominated film director and author of the books Dogwalker and Turtleface. He hosts the live call-in show “Sex, Drugs, and Basketball” on XRAY.FM.

Jenn Hunter Tindle

Jenn is a teacher by day and a sleep talker by night.  She enjoys escape rooms, cooking, and stationery stores.  She once literally fell off a horse, and she’s proud to report she got back on.

Frayn Masters

Frayn Masters is the Executive Producer and Host of the award-winning BACK FENCE PDX live storytelling series, was voted best storyteller by Willamette Week readers, won Audience Favorite in an air guitar contest, wrote 500 multiple choice trivia questions (for each movie) for the TWILIGHT movies APP,  and is also a former Host and Producer for The Moth. She once went to the bathroom and left brunch on a Sunday, entered a fugue state, and walked for around 8 hours until she came back home to a bewildered boyfriend.

PODCAST – 12 pm to 1 pm Sunday at Lucky Barn

Join us for a live recording of Literary Arts’ radio show and podcast, The Archive Project. Portland-based author and translator, Daniel Nieh, will lead a wide-ranging conversation with writers Sindya Bhanoo, author of the 2023 Oregon Book Award-winning Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, and Chelsea Bieker, whose most recent book is the collection Heartbroke. The trio will discuss their short story collections, but also their creative processes as writers and artists. 

The Archive Project features engaging conversations and talks from 39 years of Literary Arts programming. Listen to The Archive Project weekly on Oregon Public Broadcasting or wherever you get your podcasts.

LITERARY – 10 am-12 pm Sunday at Windmill

Bringing together renowned authors and writers, Pickathon’s Literary Lineup is a chance to enjoy author readings at the forested Windmill Stage. Curated by Liz Olufson of Literary Arts, this year’s lineup brings together a diverse and engaging group of authors with ties to Portland and Oregon. Guatemalan-American poet Stephanie Adams-Santos is known for her poetry collections and chapbooks and her short stories, as well as her television writing for Netflix and Disney+. Portland writer and creative writing instructor Joshua James Amberson is an essayist and writer whose work has appeared in everything from the Portland Mercury to The Los Angeles Review of Books. Erica Berry’s nonfiction debut was just published this year, though her writing has appeared in many other places before that! Fiction writer and journalist Sindya Bhanoo teaches at Oregon State University and won an O. Henry Prize in 2021. Chelsea Bieker’s debut novel was named a Barnes and Noble Pick of the Month, and her story collection, Heartbroke won the California Book Award and was an NPR Best Book of the Year. Portland author Emme Lund’s debut novel, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest, was a finalist for an Oregon Book Award, and was named the best book of the year by Buzzfeed and The Portland Mercury. Writer and translator Daniel Nieh is the author of two international crime thrillers, Beijing Payback and Take No Names, of which both were Editor’s Choice selections in the New York Times Book Review. He served as an interpreter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also works as a contract linguist for the US Department of State. Eric Tran is a queer Vietnamese poet, the author of Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke, and the winner of the Oregon Book Award.

Stephanie Adams-Santos

Stephanie Adams-Santos is a Guatemalan-American poet and multidisciplinary writer from Oregon. Their work has been described as possessing “a distinct, composed wildness that lingers in secret rituals, in the spirit world of plants and animals.” Stephanie is the author of several full-length poetry collections and chapbooks, including Dream of Xibalba (selected by Jericho Brown as the winner of the 2021 Orison Poetry Prize) and Swarm Queen’s Crown (finalist for a Lambda Literary Award). Their short story “Night Flowers” appeared in the Latinx anthology Speculative Fiction for Dreamers. Stephanie was a Staff Writer and Story Editor on the television anthology horror series Two Sentence Horror Stories (CW/Netflix). Their episode “Elliot” was the winner of a 2022 Gold Telly Award in Writing. Most recently, Stephanie staffed on a live-action fantasy series in development at Disney+. As an inaugural fellow of the 2022 Ojalá Ignition Fellowship, she developed an original fantasy pilot based on the world and characters of the Tarot. She has received recognition and support for her work from The Sundance Institute, Film Independent, Vermont Studio Center, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Oregon Arts Commission. In addition to their literary work, Stephanie is illustrating an original Major Arcana tarot deck. She is drawn to queerness, the uncanny, and whatever draws us closer to the primal source.  

Joshua James Amberson

Joshua James Amberson is a Portland, Oregon-based writer and creative writing instructor. He’s the author of Staring Contest: Essays About Eyes (Perfect Day Publishing), How to Forget Almost Everything: A Novel (Korza Books), a series of chapbooks on Two Plum Press, as well as the long-running Basic Paper Airplane zine series. A former regular contributor to The Portland Mercury, his work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Seattle Times, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Electric Literature, and Tin House, among others.

Erica Berry

Erica Berry’s nonfiction debut, Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear, was published in winter 2023 by Flatiron/Macmillan (US+Canada), and Canongate (UK+Commonwealth). Her essays and journalism appear in Outside, Wired, The Yale Review, The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Guernica, among other publications. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize, she has received grants and fellowships from the Ucross Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. She has taught workshops for teenagers and adults at Literary Arts, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, the New York Times Student Journeys, and Oxford Academia, and was the 2019-2020 National Writers’ Series Writer-in-Residence in Traverse City, Michigan. She received her MFA from the University of Minnesota as a College of Liberal Arts Fellow in 2018 and now lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she is a Writer-in-the-Schools and an Associate Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters.

Sindya Bhanoo

Sindya Bhanoo is a fiction writer and journalist. Her debut collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere won the New American Voices Award. In 2021, she won an O. Henry Prize. She has worked for The New York Times and The Washington Post and currently teaches creative writing and journalism at Oregon State University.

Chelsea Bieker

Chelsea Bieker is the author of the debut novel GODSHOT which was longlisted for The Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize and named a Barnes and Noble Pick of the Month. Her story collection, HEARTBROKE won the California Book Award and was a New York Times “Best California Book of 2022” and an NPR Best Book of the Year. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, The Cut, Wall Street Journal, McSweeney’s, Los Angeles Review of Books, Lit Hub, No Tokens, Electric Literature, and others. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, as well as residencies from MacDowell and Tin House Books. Originally from California’s Central Valley, she lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children. Her newest novel, MADWOMAN is forthcoming from Little, Brown.

Emme Lund

Emme Lund is an author living and writing in Portland, OR. She has an MFA from Mills College. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, TIME Magazine, The Rumpus, Romper, the Portland Mercury, and Autostraddle, among many other venues. In 2019, she was awarded an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction. Her debut novel, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest(Atria Books, 2022) was longlisted for the First Novel Prize from the Center For Fiction, is a finalist for an Oregon Book Award, was named the best book of the Year by Buzzfeed and The Portland Mercury, and was included on lists in The Washington Post, USA Today, People Magazine, The Advocate, Cosmopolitan, and Shondaland.

Daniel Nieh

Daniel Nieh is a writer and translator. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, and has also lived in China, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. He studied Chinese Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Daniel is the author of two international crime thrillers, BEIJING PAYBACK and TAKE NO NAMES, of which both were Editor’s Choice selections in the New York Times Book Review. Daniel’s translation clients include publishers, universities, nonprofits, and museums around the world. He served as an interpreter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also works as a contract linguist for the US Department of State. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Esquire.

Eric Tran

Eric Tran is a queer Vietnamese poet and the author of Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke, winner of the Oregon Book Award and finalist for the Thom Gunn Award, and The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer. His poetry has been featured in All Things Considered, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily, and has received recognition from Best of the Net, Prairie Schooner, and New Delta Review, among other publications. He is a psychiatrist in Portland, OR.

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