Key Literary Figures in the City of Roses

I walk to Washington Park every Friday morning. After climbing the last of the steep steps to the Lewis and Clark Memorial, I’m greeted by an engraved plaque nestled into the brick wall.

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”

The poem was written by the English poet by Dorothy Frances Gurney in 1913. Reading this excerpt got me wondering what other historical easter eggs are waiting to be discovered in this park?
The City of Roses and The Oregonian
Portland wouldn’t be the City of Roses without the early influences of certain literary figures in Oregon’s history.
Thomas J. Dryer started The Oregonian as a weekly periodical on December 4, 1850. Ten years later, in 1860, Henry Pittock purchased The Oregonian and began publishing daily issues; that same year, he married Georgiana Burton Pittock and the two began influencing the beginnings of modern Portland society.
Georgiana Pittock was “a philanthropist, reformer, and society leader with her husband Henry Lewis Pittock, owner and publisher of The Oregonian, she inspired Portland to become the cultural and business center of Oregon.” Georgiana was an avid gardener, so much so that in 1888 she founded and organized the Portland Rose Society. In 1889 Georgiana’s church established a competition for the year’s best homegrown roses, which marked the beginning of the annual Portland Rose Festival. Nearly sixteen years later, Portland boasted over two hundred miles of rose-lined streets.
In 1905 the city began preparing for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. Over the course of the four-month exposition, nearly 1.6 million visitors traveled to Portland from all over the world. By the end of the display, Portland had earned its reputation as “the City of Roses.”
The International Rose Test Garden
Portland’s newly acquired reputation as the City of Roses, along with the efforts of Jesse A. Curry, led to the creation of the world-renowned International Rose Test Garden.
The Rose Test Garden initially began as a safe haven for hybrid roses grown in Europe in 1915. London hybridists, along with others, feared that the roses would be destroyed during the World War I bombings. Jesse Currey, a rose enthusiast and editor of the Oregon Journal, convinced city officials to create the garden. Hybridists around the world began sending their roses to Portland, and the garden was officially dedicated in 1924.
The garden currently houses more than ten thousand rose bushes from over six hundred rose varieties. The Shakespeare Garden was instituted in 1945 to honor the playwright with roses named after his characters. The dedicated plaque from the LaBarre Shakespeare Club features an engraving of the bard himself and the quote, “Of all flowers methinks a rose is best.”
Located in the largest city park in Portland, the International Rose Test Garden receives around 3.5 million visitors every year. I visit the park and gardens every week, and I still can’t get enough, no matter the season.
Acknowledgement of the Original People of the Land
I pass by the Lewis and Clark Memorial often, and everytime I think about how this beautiful place that I live came to be. I cannot write this without acknowledging the sacrifices and hardships that the Indigenous People of this land had to encounter in order for me to be here today. What we now call Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah County were the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Tualatin Kalapuya, Wasco, Molalla, Cowlitz, Watlala, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River.

Book Reviews: Dos and Don’ts

Book reviewing as a profession and a literary hobby has evolved over the decades to keep up with the shift in market trends and consumer preferences. Over the last year, we have seen significant changes in the book reviewing process as a result of some major corporate decisions—full-time and part-time book reviewers were let go by retail book chains, and newspapers decided to forego book review columns altogether. While the reading community was initially dismayed, they took it in stride and moved on to other issues faced by the publishing industry in these turbulent times. These changes can be attributed to the dynamically shifting landscape of book marketing and sales.

With e-commerce giants like Amazon overtaking brick-and-mortar stores in terms of book sales, publishing houses are shifting their focus to reach out to more customers through these platforms instead of the deep-rooted traditional platforms like newspapers and book review blogs that prevailed earlier. Digital platforms have also streamlined the process for readers to share their reviews, thereby providing prospective customers with a wide range of opinions instead of having to rely on just one person’s, as is the case in a book review column or a blog.

Reading book reviews often left me with more questions than answers: Why was this book picked among the thousands of books published this week? How can I rely on the reviewer’s opinion about it? Is the review unbiased and transparent? Is the reviewer knowledgeable about the subject matter? Phillipa Chong’s book on book reviewing, Inside the Critics’ Circle, answered all my questions and more. With a logical approach, this book addresses all the ambiguities concerning book reviews and reviewers.

Reviewing books is not a one-person process and involves first choosing the book to be reviewed and finding the right person or platform to review it. There are many aspects that need to be factored in when evaluating the authenticity of a book review. One tiny misstep could result in a biased review, which is detrimental to the author and the sales. An inaccurate review, resulting from lack of interest or lack of subject-matter knowledge, could drive away potential readers, which is a huge disservice on the part of the reviewer.

For example, if a reviewer primarily interested in science fiction is assigned a nonfiction autobiography, or vice versa, the result could be one of two things: an unbiased review which might or might not be accurate since the reviewer is not familiar with the subject, or a biased review that is a result of the reviewer’s disinterest in the subject. Neither of these two scenarios is conducive to a bias-free review.

However, the burden of choosing the right book not only falls on the reviewer but also on the editor or person responsible for assigning the books for reviewing. The person assigning the book should make sure that the reviewer is familiar with the subject matter and genre of the book to ensure unbiased reviews, especially for books that need an authenticity read.

While maintaining a fine balance between being objective and conscientiousness with regard to editorial opinion is the key factor, it is also crucial to provide an honest professional outlook that is unbiased. Reviews play a great role in influencing readers to buy a book, and with this in mind, reviewers should focus on discussing the merits and demerits of a book but leave the choice of deciding its worthiness to the reader.

Style Wars: AP vs. Chicago

In the US, there are two style guides for professional writing and editing that reign supreme. In one corner, we have the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), currently in its sixteenth edition and beloved most in the arena of book publishing. In the other corner, we have the Associated Press Stylebook (AP), the most widely used guide for news writing. The primary functions of each guide seem, at first glance, to be different enough to ensure that any animosity generated over their discrepancies are relatively minimal. But if you’re an editor who deals with both or a reader who doesn’t understand the inconsistencies between the sorts of things you read, the tension can be palpable.
Whether we should or shouldn’t, we all have pet rules that we push to mercilessly enforce. Perhaps one of the best-known sources of conflict is over the serial comma, also referred to as the Oxford comma. This comma is placed between the last two items of a list, before a conjunction, and is used in CMS. I personally support the serial comma in all instances because, while it might not be necessary every single time, it promotes consistency and makes the reader’s experience more predictable (and therefore easier). Others assert that it should be omitted where possible to reduce unnecessary punctuation (which is AP’s position), and still others feel that arguments such as these are pointlessly divisive and don’t do much to strengthen language anyway.
There are other differences that are significantly less contentious, though. It makes sense for newspapers to do what they can to save space, so the fact that AP recommends taking out the middle spaces in an ellipsis isn’t likely to ruffle the devout CMS-user’s feathers. Similarly, AP’s use of numerals for numbers higher than nine isn’t unreasonable at all, and though that’s not CMS’s default, it actually does give you that option if you need it. While there are enough discrepancies to build a website out of, plenty of each guide is either in line with the other or so clearly geared toward their different respective audiences that there’s no chance to get into an argument in the first place.
In book publishing, CMS is the one you really, really need to know, and because I got into editing with an eye specifically for books (and because, in my opinion, CMS is just much more comprehensive and makes more sense), that’s the one I prefer. However, I also do contract copyediting for the Portland State Vanguard, and apart from a couple pages of house style, AP is what I use there. Who knows—maybe news editing is where I’ll end up long-term if that’s where I find work. I’d be sad to only get to dust off CMS for my own writing, but it’s not as though working in a different style guide is some sort of tragedy. It’s actually fine.
Ultimately, these questions that we as editors get so worked up over, the questions that divide families, tear friendships to ribbons, and separate lovers (maybe), are merely questions of style. And as an editor, it pays to respect whichever style you’re expected to use at any given time. Refusing to dig into more than one guide on the basis of preference is professionally limiting, and there’s really no reason to limit the number of ways you can make a living as an editor if you don’t have to.

The Vastly Different World of Newspaper Publishing

Newspapers and books really aren’t that different from each other. They both contain words, they’re both carefully edited and designed, they both are marketed and put out into the world and contribute to society in their own way. But their production cycles are vastly different.

I work as an editor for the Vanguard, a student newspaper on campus, and stepping into the realm of book publishing has been a bit of a shock to my system. Book publishing does a lot of the same things as newspaper publishing, just much slower. A newspaper production cycle largely depends on how often it is printed, whether that’s once a month, every day, or somewhere in between. The Vanguard is a weekly publication, and everything revolves around the day it is printed.

For me, everything starts a couple of weeks in advance. I am the editor of one of the sections of the paper, and I work with a staff of writers and journalists. They propose writing ideas, and I help them develop their proposals. Then they have about a week to actually write the articles.

Once they finish writing, they send their work to me and I do my initial content edits. One of the biggest differences between publishing books and publishing newspapers is the way content or developmental edits are done. In newspapers, there really isn’t a whole lot of time to send suggested edits to the writer because the news, above all else, is timely. A newspaper editor has a bit of freedom to change sentences and reorder paragraphs.

After I finish the initial content edits, I send the articles to copyediting and they do their AP Style magic. Meanwhile, photographers are out in the world taking photos to accompany the stories, and videographers are making videos.

Then, we have production day. On production day, the designers lay out the articles into the pages of the newspaper with InDesign. They produce illustrations and they put together our cover. They basically do everything to make the paper look nice, so that people want to pick it up. After they do their design, they print out the pages and the editors literally use red pens to mark up any errors. Any last-minute changes that we didn’t catch on the computer (there are always things we don’t catch on the computer) are marked with the red pens. The designers then make the changes in InDesign, and we go back and forth until each page is as perfect as we can make it. Then on print day, we send it to the printer and start all over again on the next issue.

This is my first term at Ooligan Press, and I’m already seeing huge differences between the way books and newspapers are published. Authors of books are not even close to the same type of writers as journalists at newspapers. Books take a whole different level of care and attention.

The sole purpose of newspapers is to get information out into the world, while books put whole worldviews out into the world. There are similarities, obviously, but the differences are huge, and it’s going to take quite a lot of adjusting on my part, but I look forward to the challenge.