Everything I knew about Portland I learned from two main sources: my best friend who lived here at the time (and has since moved to Florida) and the TV show Portlandia. My friend said the show paints a somewhat accurate picture of Portland culture, and having visited Portland prior to living here, I believed her. What Portlandia and my friend neglected to mention, however, is the amount of opportunities and communities for would-be writers, editors, and publishers, and what it would mean for a publishing hopeful like me. Anyone who wants to work in publishing ought to live in New York, so I’ve been told. Would moving to Portland instead hinder my chances?
Attending PSU as a graduate publishing student and working as the fiction editor for Portland Review has opened doors that I never would have found in my hometown. Portland is, as I’ve discovered, an independent publisher’s mecca. Portland’s DIY culture is apparent in the zines, chapbooks, feminist magazines, small comics presses, and more zines I find at stores like Powell’s or In Other Words. Through Ooligan Press, publishing students are granted opportunities to work with industry professionals in the classroom and through the many internship opportunities that arrive in our inboxes. The Review itself has a rich literary history that I had not been aware of until I became a part of it–I was both surprised and impressed to see Ursula K. Le Guin among the list of famous contributors. As the current fiction editor, I come across submissions of outstanding quality, and it’s a shame that we can publish only so many.
Having lived in Portland for nearly six months now, I’m a little calmer concerning publishing jobs and writers’ communities on the west coast, and I am hopeful that my experience both as a student and as a fiction editor will serve me well once I graduate.