By Dale J Rappaneau Jr. Contributing Writer
After six years of hosting the curated monthly reading series known as Word Portland, UMF alums Danielle LeBlanc and Emily Jane Young are retiring as curators and seeking to pass ownership of the reading series to a new two-person team.
“It has been a gradual coming to terms that it’s time to move aside and let other voices have some space curating this series,” said LeBlanc in an email interview.
The Portland-based reading series has been held on the first Monday of every month since its inception in 2012, always beginning at 9 p.m., and has continuously featured a curated selection of award-winning local and regional writers reading their work before a live audience at LFK, a bar and restaurant on Portland’s Congress Street. Anyone could email their work to Word Portland, then LeBlanc and Young make the final decision as to which three writers would be invited to read at the event.
“Emily and I started this six years ago, and at that point, a 9 p.m. event on a school night was totally our speed,” wrote LeBlanc. “But now, with the lives we’ve built around Word Portland, it’s a lot harder to support the schedule, no matter how much we love the event, which is a whole lot.”
Rather than close the doors on the entire reading series, the duo are accepting applications for a new two-person team to take on the roles of event hosts and curators. “Being both cis, white women, we have learned a lot about how we might unintentionally be taking up some artistic space that could be owed to other voices,” wrote LeBlanc. “We’ve made mistakes here too, and we are hoping that new eyes could help make this space an inspiring one for many years to come.”
At the time of writing, LeBlanc and Young are still in search for candidates to take over the event. Their ideal candidate would have the following qualities: “A special interest, if not a background, in creative writing. Passionate about local arts and events. The time and energy to put into said passion. Patience and compassion when communicating with potential readers.”
They also claim to provide “extra points” for candidates “already connected with any of Portland’s wealth of artistic communities.”
LeBlanc and Young met while attending UMF as Creative Writing majors, and they credit their experience in the school’s creative writing program as foundational for their artistic careers. “The workshop model I think is still one of the best teaching strategies for any kind of writing,” wrote LeBlanc. “I made such close friends through my BFA classes, including Emily, and we were treated like artists and equals. It was very empowering at a young age, and I think that gave us the confidence to think that our artistic ambitions were meaningful.”
Individuals interested in applying for the position(s) of curators for Word Portland can send their applications to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to wordportland.weebly.com for more information.