I was asked by Greg Gerding to interview Eirean Bradley for the new University of Hell Press website. I jumped at the chance, because not only do I consider Eirean Bradley to be one of my close friends, he is also one of the few people in this town whom I trust and whose viewpoints I highly respect. The first time I performed at the Portland Poetry Slam, not without my own major misgivings of slam poetry in general, Bradley complimented my work and made me feel very welcome. He was actually the only person who talked to me that night. So I kept going back to the slam and getting more and more involved in what was going on. The relationships I most cherish these days have all been fostered at the Portland Poetry Slam, and it is hard for me to separate the slam from Eirean. He is also the person closest to my age and subculture, which really helps a 30something feel comfortable in such a youth-driven culture.
Being overwhelmed as a 31-year-old man, with what being in school for the first time in 19 years can be, I dragged myself from bed and came down to Backspace, the coffeeshop in Portland, Oregon where we have the Poetry Slam, to meet Eirean for the interview maybe 30 minutes after waking up on a long overdue Saturday. When I got down here, Eirean took me outside and told me how the night prior he woke up in the middle of the night which such intense chest pains, he eventually went to the hospital with fear it was a heart attack. Come to find out he has three ulcers. And here was this champ, who is a dear friend of mine, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for our interview.
Eirean’s stubborn bullheadedness might come off unsettling to some, but the growing number of poets in the vibrant Portland poetry community is a testament to this man’s drive and determination to create a space for everyone. He may not be appreciated by everyone, but if they come to the Portland Poetry Slam, they are taking direct benefit of what Eirean has done for this town, and for the Portland Poetry Slam, after taking it over, around two years ago. One would be amazed at our weekly, hundred-plus crowd, one of the biggest in the world, if they were told it is only two years old. Somebody is putting a lot of hours in, behind the scenes, to create such a welcoming and vibrant weekly event. Here he is: