For James Joyce fans around the globe, there are few days more significant than June 16, otherwise known as "Bloomsday." Joyce's seminal novel Ulysses—an urban retelling of the Greek legend, with antihero Leopold Bloom as its protagonist—unfolds the events of a single day (June 16). Now, every Bloomsday, Joyce fans get together for what local author Heather Larimer calls a "total literary dork thing," which includes look-alike contests, reenactments of Leopold's activities, and annoying Irish accents.
Larimer and Portland writer Joanna Miller were talking about the annual event recently, when inspiration struck Miller: Instead of designating a day to honor the imaginary protagonist of an 85-year-old novel, how about celebrating one of the most formative and beloved authors living today, Judy Blume?
And just like that, the first annual Blumesday was born—a tribute to the writer who introduced us to fourth grade nothings, and wrote books about kids named Fudge. This Saturday, June 16 (Blumesday), local writers will convene at the Bagdad to read passages from their favorite Blume books and share memories of discovering pieces of adolescence through her writing. Because in addition to writing books that were wildly fun and relatable for kids (Freckle Juice), she also provided the first exposure many kids had to menstruation (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret), masturbation (Then Again, Maybe I Won't), and birth control (Forever).
Perhaps not surprisingly, this has made Blume one of the most banned children's authors in the US, and after decades of battles with library censors and the religious right, Blume has become a passionate defender of free speech, and edited a collection of stories on the topic, Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers.
But what we remember most about reading Judy Blume is how fun it was—Fudge's obsession with Superman, the thrill of discovering Blume's erotic adult novel, Wifey—and this is the spirit in which the first Blumesday is intended.
"Our number one requirement in asking people to be part of this," says Larimer, "is when we asked someone, if they didn't freak out with excitement, we moved on. But most people were like, 'Oh my God! What am I going to read? The wet dream scene from Then Again, Maybe I Won't? How can I choose?'"