I no longer love Mondays!

After over 13 years of providing a venue for poetry of all stripes in Portland, Dan Raphael's "I Love Mondays!" series at Borders has unexpectedly ended.

For budgetary reasons, Borders let their events coordinator go, and cancelled all future events, including Dan's series.

I was one of about 270 poets who read in the series; I read there twice. They were some of my favorite readings to give. Dan had catholic booking tastes; the three poets at a typical reading would come from very different scenes. They were almost always Portland-area poets. Dan has a strong interest in getting people from different communities talking to one another; you can see clear evidence for this (if you know your Portland poets) in the scheduling for Poetland, the 80-poets-in-8-hours event that he organized a few years ago.

Borders readings also had a lot of people in the audience who didn't go to many poetry readings, or who were just wandering through the store and checking out what was going on.

Now, reading with people who aren't your peers for an audience who aren't immediately interested in what you're doing is, perhaps, a bit offputting for most poets. But I agreed with Dan's take, that this sort of outreach is important, exciting, and should serve as a challenge to poets. I went into these readings determined to make some sort of connection, even if a tentative one, to that haphazard audience, and to try to do it without completely pandering. It pushed me as a writer and stimulated my thinking about a poet's role in relationship to the community -- both the poet's obvious community of likeminded poets and readers, but also the greater community of potential readers, or of people who, haphazardly, could be exposed to a poetry reading.

Portland's poetry scene will be missing a vital and quietly characteristic element without Dan's Borders reading series, and it's a damn shame it's over. Thanks, Dan, for so many years of poetry and community organizing.

Dan's hoping to do a final event or two, and I'm sure you'll find word of it here (even though I won't be in town for it) or over at the Spare Room website.

Meanwhile, here's an article the Willamette Week did on Dan nearly a decade ago. Hopefully they'll do a follow-up now.



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