Portland Review

Portland Review Founded in 1956, Portland Review publishes prose, poetry, art, and translations. Past contributors include Brian Doyle, Keith Flynn, Tess Gallagher, Ursula K.

Portland Review has been publishing exceptional prose, poetry, and art since 1956. The journal is produced by the graduate students in Portland State University’s English Department, and for over sixty years Portland Review has promoted the works of emerging writers and artists alongside the works of well-established authors. Le Guin, Christopher Howell, Richard Hugo, David Ignatow, William Kittre

dge, Yusef Komunyakaa, Valzhyna Mort, Lance Olsen, Kevin Sampsell, Peter Sears, William Stafford, Primus St. John, Brian Turner, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

From "Dear East County," our newest published work of poetry by Deborah Bennett:"My mother dropped me in the warpedstern...
03/10/2024

From "Dear East County," our newest published work of poetry by Deborah Bennett:

"My mother dropped me in the warped
stern of your canoe, paddled me through the rough
locks of the great waters that spilled into rock
salt waters west of East, and I made myself
in your image"

Read now on our site:

You cradled our moto-X babies, our strip mall teens, and three pack a day fathers, chilled our ring-tabbed beer cans in your run-off rivers, and absorbed oilrising like mist from our vats of fried food, sucked exhaust from our tricked-out cars, we atebulbous berries by the hallock, pondered savory,....

"A parrot in Hindi-Urdu is called tota. It closely resembles another Hindi-Urdu word:toota, which means broken. When I w...
03/03/2024

"A parrot in Hindi-Urdu is called tota. It closely resembles another Hindi-Urdu word:toota, which means broken. When I was six or so, my grandmother found an injured parrot half-drowned in her open water tank. She nursed him back to health. He followed her around the house asking, “Are you okay, Kanti? Are you okay, Kanti?”

Technically, he was the only person in that household who ever asked her how she was doing."

This week we are proud to bring you a lovely and inspired piece called "Addendum: Nala-e-bebak" by Scherezade Siobahn 🦜

In Urdu, there exists a phrase—nala-e-bebak: an audacious sorrow.  2007: When my grandmother died, she turned into a parrot. An obscure ritual was performed to determine what type of body she would be reborn in after departing from this one. An earthen pot was filled with river mud and sand, lidd...

We are now open for nonfiction submissions! For complete submission guidelines, visit our site at https://portlandreview...
03/02/2024

We are now open for nonfiction submissions! For complete submission guidelines, visit our site at https://portlandreview.org/submit. We look forward to reading your work!

Do you want to   in Portland Review? We will be accepting submissions for nonfiction starting Saturday, March 1st 🤩 Don'...
02/27/2024

Do you want to in Portland Review? We will be accepting submissions for nonfiction starting Saturday, March 1st 🤩 Don't miss out on this limited call for submissions!

Portland Review publishes narrative nonfiction, personal essays, memoir, flash, and interviews up to 5,000 words. We will only consider one submission per author per reading period. Unless otherwise necessary for the piece, please double-space your work and use a standard (Times New Roman or equivalent) 12-point font.

For over sixty years, Portland Review has published the works of emerging writers and artists alongside the works of well-established authors. We warmly encourage previously unpublished writers and artists to submit, and we aim to support work by those often marginalized in the artistic conversation, including (though certainly not limited to) people of color, women, disabled people, neurodivergent people, LGBTQIA people, and people with intersectional identities.

Work must be original, unpublished, and follow our submission guidelines. All accepted submissions will be published online.

"Stained and swollen on a slide, part of meawaits the technician’s microscope. I am a blight upon the rust of man,a rudd...
02/25/2024

"Stained and swollen on a slide, part of me
awaits the technician’s microscope.

I am a blight upon the rust of man,
a ruddy cell growing magnanimous."

We're featuring from Mickie Kennedy: "Ruins" and "Stage Three." Check them out on our site!

Ruins A child, two sizes too small. An improvised bomb on loan from the city’s museum of modern art. A plagiarist on the street corner tapping veins for the aftermarket haiku. A chamber maid removed from the chamber. A dream where a naked groomsman asks for sour cream. The bruised grape of a borro...

02/18/2024

"[I]f they are failing,
Money says No good which means that
they are returned to the turning dirt
of their motherland. I remember them
only from the sweet moisture
left on my hand.

Sixteen dollars will pass
and I will be one hour closer
to becoming an ancestor."

This week, we are featuring this new from Jeremy Chu. Check out "Liminality, Organic Ambrosia" on our site (link below) 🍎

https://portlandreview.org/liminality-organic-ambrosia/

"All of my friends are cutting off their breasts. Top surgery. Breast reduction. The trans and the genderqueer and the t...
02/11/2024

"All of my friends are cutting off their breasts. Top surgery. Breast reduction. The trans and the genderqueer and the top-heavy alike. It’s got me taking stock.

Grapefruits, melons, cannonballs. Bazoongas, sweater puppies, jugs. Fun bags, wocka wockas—god knows, I don’t love them. But they define me. "

This week we are bringing you a reflective short story from Megan Savage called "Grapefruits, Melons, Cannonballs." Check it out by following the link below 🍈

All of my friends are cutting off their breasts. Top surgery. Breast reduction. The trans and the genderqueer and the top-heavy alike. It’s got me taking stock. Grapefruits, melons, cannonballs. Bazoongas, sweater puppies, jugs. Fun bags, wocka wockas—god knows, I don’t love them. But they def...

"We chinwag about illusion–how oneprivileged pipsqueak harboring many big angers brings an empireto its knees, so now we...
02/04/2024

"We chinwag about illusion–how one
privileged pipsqueak harboring many big angers brings an empire
to its knees, so now we must bend our backs, kiss the dirt
with our foreheads. Meanwhile, The Short King
bounces on his trampoline, rises to new altitudes. He minimizes
history, downsizes our air fleet to his one big-ass plane, and
the police post notices banning language which measures
the vertical, save ‘colossal’ for The King and ‘smol’
for model subjects."

This week, we are bringing you two poems by Tom Kelly: "The Shortest Short King" and "Tourist."

The Shortest Short King is the same height as an Emperor Penguin, a clown car, a median fourth-grader on roller skates, and though his stature isn’t a punchline necessarily, he behaves like Grade-A di****ad, buys all the beer at the pub, drives his monster truck without a license and crashes into ...

“I must have been one of the diurnal casualties yesterday because now my skin has burst through with thorns…” 🥀Shout out...
06/02/2023

“I must have been one of the diurnal casualties yesterday because now my skin has burst through with thorns…” 🥀

Shout out to the intersemiotic poet/choreographer who is Lake Angela for these two wonderfully carnal poems.

Reproductive Doctor Enclosed in each prescribing mouth is an eternal fire of authority. Patients must wear protective clothing and well-insulated masks against the sparks. It is difficult to fit inside the suit because the body is an ill-used paintbrush, her mural based on a series of small diurnal....

"Your hand-me-down tongue converses fluently with every note..." Taste the new poem up today by Via Justine De Fant!
05/25/2023

"Your hand-me-down tongue converses fluently with every note..."

Taste the new poem up today by Via Justine De Fant!

You fly 4 hours to your mother’s province whereat lunch, your family listens to the chismis of the barrio while you speak to the itlog and the bagoong and last night’s rice,to the bangus on your plate that your mom debones for you,your fingers, too American to distinguish the bone from th...

"Sovereignty curls around my gut like snakes"Thank you  for this gut-wrenching poem
05/18/2023

"Sovereignty curls around my gut like snakes"

Thank you for this gut-wrenching poem

for Wọgọwanyị Great-grandmother was a woman sold twice, ransomed twice from slavers on the way to Calabar or Bonny dispossessed widow at the mercy of the world In duty she was bound twice— first, by marriage to a man who died young, then by the noose of gratitude and levirate traditions to t...

https://portlandreview.org/the-plastic-horse/Check out this eerily funny flash piece from writer Dana Masden as part of ...
05/04/2023

https://portlandreview.org/the-plastic-horse/
Check out this eerily funny flash piece from writer Dana Masden as part of our spring series!

My dead brother-in-law is inside our old toy rocking horse. Recently, we watched that Netflix documentary—you know, the one about dying, ghosts, reincarnation, etc. What I’m saying is that I literally believe my dead brother-in-law took residency in a discarded Fisher Price plastic horse in the ...

https://portlandreview.org/o-susanna/"Mornings I brush the tops of strawberry plants with my palms to find the dark pebb...
04/28/2023

https://portlandreview.org/o-susanna/

"Mornings I brush the tops of strawberry plants with my palms to find the dark pebbles of fruit. I never talk to D again. After P.E. girls fold their bodies into clothes as a mantis folds its pious limbs."

From our new, very moving, flash-nonfic prose from Susanna Childress!

Twelve and my breasts begin their slow swell, moon-bright in the seventh month of my slumber. This strange sheen, as within the begonia’s waxy heart, my neck spreading its blush when, in front of my crush, the boy from Glasgow County, B snaps my training bra and runs away, laughing. In Home-Ec two...

Submissions are open! This fall's theme is Shadowplay / Lightwork. There is a term in visual art called chiaroscuro, whi...
09/18/2022

Submissions are open! This fall's theme is Shadowplay / Lightwork.

There is a term in visual art called chiaroscuro, which, in Italian, can translate to a compound phrase: lightdark. In this year’s series for Portland Review, two of the oldest artistic tropes— shadow and light—meet another profoundly finicky duality: work and play. You can’t have one without the other. Or can you?
Everyday, some work at dawn, some the graveyard shift; kids play at recess during the day, older folks play at night. Some creatures live only in shadow, others cannot survive without light. Whether in cities, suburbs, or backcountry roads and fields—wherever work exists, it’s in the interplay between light and dark. As such, Shadowplay and Lightwork exist within and outside of the natural, the artificial, the supernatural, the sociopolitical, the everyday, the uncanny.
We’re looking for submissions—stories, essays, poems, multi/anti-genre hybrid work of any kind—that riff, explode, refine, subvert, or recast these seemingly bounded and boundless categories. Shadowplay and Lightwork opens up itself to reinterpretation of what creative work and play can be, what light and shadow mean to different folks. We welcome work from all walks of life— whether you dwell in dimness or shine bright, or anywhere in between, we see writers and artists’ work/play as critical as the day-night cycle itself. Show us what it means to play in shadows and work with light.

Please send us your prose submissions (fiction and nonfiction) of up to 5,000 words, and poetry submissions of up to three poems with a combined length of up to ten pages.
Work must be original, unpublished, and follow our submission guidelines. All accepted submissions will be published online.

portlandreview.submittable.com/submit

“At the center of this order, fifth position, like the circle, has no end.” In our newest nonfiction piece, Gail Sulliva...
09/15/2022

“At the center of this order, fifth position, like the circle, has no end.” In our newest nonfiction piece, Gail Sullivan Hammill centers the passion and pressure of fifth position. Read more with the link below!

In the spring of 1983, Russian choreographer George Balanchine, at the age of seventy-nine, lay dying of a rare neurological disorder in Roosevelt Hospital. According to his biography by Bernard Taper, dancers from the New York City Ballet, the company Balanchine founded and spent a lifetime nurturi...

A new season is upon us! We open for submissions on September 18th.
09/13/2022

A new season is upon us! We open for submissions on September 18th.

“To the folk singer’s mind, it was music by the folk for the folk. And just who were the folk? They were the ones noddin...
09/08/2022

“To the folk singer’s mind, it was music by the folk for the folk. And just who were the folk? They were the ones noddin’ along. They were the ones who got it. That was all. Nothin’ else mattered, did it?” 🎵 This week we’re nodding along to our newest fiction piece, by Hayli McClain. Continue the ballad with the link below!

Her first harmonica was a cheap Toysmith—plastic under silver paint—that ’er daddy picked up on ’is way home from work without thinkin’ the littlest bit about it. It was a toy, was all. So was ’er first guitar: an ugly purple thing with a princess on it that hadn’t been the full-size, ...

“but i think your real name suits you. storms are as terrifying as they are vulnerable as they are beautiful. i love the...
09/01/2022

“but i think your real name suits you. storms are as terrifying as they are vulnerable as they are beautiful. i love them.” In our newest nonfiction piece, Marina Budrys explores the forms that a letter, or love, can take. Read the rest on our website now!

Letter as Dream Interpretation i had a dream where mama shot you. she felt so terrible, the moment she did it, i could feel it radiating out of her. and you, broken on the ground, only wanted to weep in my lap. i hugged you with such force that your wound lessened and soon it was only a scar, a memo...

“We had run out of food by then, and our stomachs rumbled. The sinkhole groaned with us, another organ in the throng.” 🕳...
08/25/2022

“We had run out of food by then, and our stomachs rumbled. The sinkhole groaned with us, another organ in the throng.” 🕳 Hungry for good writing? This week we’re serving up Maya Dobjensky’s flash piece “Things We Fed to the Sinkhole”. Bite into the whole story with the link below!

It was April or May when the earth opened up to swallow part of Canal Street, and we decided to celebrate. Lou Ellen Beaumont was walking her dog very early in the morning when it happened. She heard a crumbling sound, like someone taking an enormous bite of very stale sourdough, and when she looked...

“If you judged the book by its cover, with its adorable artwork done by Daniel Brount, you’d think you’re getting a happ...
08/18/2022

“If you judged the book by its cover, with its adorable artwork done by Daniel Brount, you’d think you’re getting a happy story about a writer and a fireman. You do. But you also get so much more.” It’s officially Beach Read season! 🌊 Isabela Cordero’s review of Libby Hubscher’s If You Ask Me pulls us in like a rip tide. Check it out on our website now!

If You Ask Me begins with the seemingly picturesque life of Violet, aka Sweetie, of the Dear Sweetie advice column in North Carolina. Dear Sweetie is up for syndication and Violet is excited to share the news with her husband of over a decade, Sam. That is, until she comes home to Sam in bed with Sh...

“Yes, I promise to beg for God in every way imaginable. God, unlock me. God, happily ignoring the body tied to yours.”An...
08/08/2022

“Yes, I promise to beg for God in every way imaginable. God, unlock me. God, happily ignoring the body tied to yours.”

Another hot day, another entry in the Dog Days of Poetry! Samuel Piccone’s “Role-play” explores the many facets of the verb: worship. 🗝 Unlock the role of Reader with the link below!

God of the cuffs, key clenched in the apse your mouth makes. God of dead aphids greening the rose whose thorns furrow me. Call me seed. As in: all I’m good for. Yes, I promise to give you what I’m good for. Yes, I promise to beg  for God in every way imaginable. God, unlock me. God, happily ign...

“i won't ever use your keys AND i won't buzz in (you can leave your tv on the cctv channel)”Our Dog Days of Poetry serie...
08/04/2022

“i won't ever use your keys AND i won't buzz in (you can leave your tv on the cctv channel)”

Our Dog Days of Poetry series is winding down! A poem from Veeda Khan has us thinking about what we’ll give up for a relationship. 🧾 Read more “on the back of the receipt”

do you think i could stay here just a few nights– i won’t make any noise– i will bury myself under these woodchips– i will rake the leaves in the morning– i won’t ever use your keys AND i won’t buzz in (you can leave your tv on the cctv channel)– i won’t steal your buttons OR littl...

“here, in america, my frostbitten lips are always full of wildfire.”Happy Monday! 🔥 Our Dog Days of Poetry series contin...
08/01/2022

“here, in america, my frostbitten lips are always full of wildfire.”

Happy Monday! 🔥 Our Dog Days of Poetry series continues with two poems from Hope Kelham. Burning for more? The link to the full text is below!

we’ve eaten the ozone again now, the only ethical source of consumption in america is the dream. i awake with oil clotting menstruation-like between my toes, sealing me to the bed already wet with bloody goose feathers. jarred bits of permafrost sit thawing on my windowsill. the arctic bacteria fl...

“…strawberriesseep in a bowl. pitted with darkseeds. unfruitful. liquid.”The Dog Days of Poetry keep coming! 🍓 Today we ...
07/28/2022

“…strawberries
seep in a bowl. pitted with dark
seeds. unfruitful. liquid.”

The Dog Days of Poetry keep coming! 🍓 Today we have two poems from Stefanie Kirby that explore loss and grief. Read the rest on our site now!

Field with Miscarriage Your body spills acrossthe wheat. Empty husked, silver podded. Glisteningbefore dark. Your ash clings like blame to my fingers,the cellophane bag we brought you home in.Terrible, to choke on your airborne body, watchyou disappear with the sun. Segmentation Notes Twelve ribs ar...

“…they inhabit the shower(don’t take one after your brother),they live on soap and don’t give up.I felt lucky to be an o...
07/25/2022

“…they inhabit the shower
(don’t take one after your brother),
they live on soap and don’t give up.
I felt lucky to be an only child.”

Good morning! The Dog Days of Poetry continue with a piece from Karen L. Kilcup highlighting the gaps in women’s education, healthcare, and experience. 🕳 Jump in!

In middle school,          our hygiene teacher Mrs. Miller warned                   the girls about rogue sperm:                   they infest all the swimming pools and ponds, they          inhabit the shower (don’t take one after your brother), th...

“He moved along the row, quiet, stern,yanked weeds as if each one another sintrying to keep him out of heaven.”We’re hal...
07/21/2022

“He moved along the row, quiet, stern,
yanked weeds as if each one another sin
trying to keep him out of heaven.”

We’re halfway through the Dog Days of Poetry! 🌱 Two poems from Brenda Hanaburgh consider things pulled up and passed down. Read the rest on our site now!

Waiting for the Sun in Upstate New York, smeared with Criscoand a silver sun catcher unfolded across my chest,I think I have it all figured out.I’m 17 and plan to have a big house like Lisa:three or four bathrooms stockedwith thick peach Ralph Lauren towels.The rest, of course, is a blur—my care...

“…piloting the silver rocketof a spare bobbin, stacking wooden thread spoolsamid fabric scraps and bolts of new cloth wi...
07/18/2022

“…piloting the silver rocket
of a spare bobbin, stacking wooden thread spools
amid fabric scraps and bolts of new cloth with
its faint formaldehyde smell…”
We’re halfway through the Dog Days of Poetry! 🪡 Joshua McKinney’s “Fabric” stitches together the varied threads of a person’s life. Read the rest on our site!

Faded, threadbare, my earliest memories are stitched together by the whir and click of my grandmother’s Singer 66. She kept me clothed—through the corn-silk heat of Iowa summers to the snow-blind winters with ruptured water pipes. She followed patterns she bought at the Ben Franklin, but also th...

“how the next day erasingtanks and tethers and tissues, Depends and meds and lighters,the carton of cigs behind the jean...
07/14/2022

“how the next day erasing
tanks and tethers and tissues, Depends and meds and lighters,
the carton of cigs behind the jeans,”

The Dog Days of Poetry continue with a meditation on grief and transition from Jill Klein. 🌽 Take a deep breath, and dive in.

That’s how the cornin its summer song of silk and husk, its tassels waving across the field, calling to rat and raven; how my mother, before she lost her heartand lungs; how my brother-in-law, before he lost his brainand tongue, his hulking body swayingas I came into the kitchen and said Stay stro...

“What are we: Egg? Or moment of hatch? Shell seconds before crack? Beak inside—peck, peck, peck? Comb & wattle: a future...
07/11/2022

“What are we: Egg? Or moment of hatch? Shell seconds before crack? Beak inside—peck, peck, peck? Comb & wattle: a future maturation? Hen in incubation? Hen in whisper of lay? I lay—a display…” 🌪 The Dog Days of Poetry continue with a storm of rhythm and emotion from Howser Levine.

I fell. On a flat sidewalk on a snowless, iceless, sun-streaked afternoon. No impetus of flail: palms, then elbows in catch of concrete, then belly, knees, & pinch of chin in aftershock; a body in sweep of inertia held close to gravity’s chest: mother’s arms missing my touch. Slow motion in the ...

“...the ghost of my grandfather can wraphis huge dead hands over my son’s not-yet-dead eyes. Is this what it means to wi...
07/07/2022

“...the ghost of my grandfather can wrap

his huge dead hands over my son’s not-yet-
dead eyes. Is this what it means to witness?”
The Dog Days of Poetry continue with a poem from John Sibley Williams that has us considering the path of the next generation. 🧭 Check it out now!

Against an unsettled skyline puncturedby flit & bird-shadow, song & plummet, someone else’s history unfurls beforethe ghost of my grandfather can wrap his huge dead hands over my son’s not-yet-dead eyes. Is this what it means to witness? To confess? To forgive? Today, we’re strugglingless with...

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Portland, OR
97207

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Our Story

Portland Review has been publishing exceptional prose, poetry, and art since 1956. We are proud to have been noted in the Best American series, as well as honored by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. The journal is produced by the graduate students in Portland State University’s English Department, and for over sixty years Portland Review has promoted the works of emerging writers and artists alongside the works of well-established authors. Past contributors include Kristen Arnett, Brian Doyle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Klink, William Kittredge, Yusef Komunyakaa, William Stafford, Brian Turner, Lidia Yuknavitch and Matthew Zapruder.