By Lori Kimbel
I met Mattie John Bamman at a travel writer’s conference we were both attending. He was the young man with a witty sense of humor; I was the almost middle-aged woman that laughed at all of his quirky jokes. His easy jovial manner was familiar to me and I felt an instant friendship toward the seemingly normal man.
Before the conference was over I learned this guy was not just some ordinary, wanna-be, travel writer, this young man, originally from Milbridge, Maine, was the real deal, and is a true Oregon Maverick. Mattie grew up next to the poet, Theodore Enslin. Of course many young boys would have just ridden their bike past the poet’s house not bothering to even wave a hello, but not Mattie. From the time he was 11-years-old Mattie began learning from famous writer. ‘Judging by the way you stack firewood you’d make a good poet’, Enslin told the young version of Mattie. Over the years he continued stacking firewood for him and in trade Enslin began mentoring him in the art of poetry, as well as life. Growing up next to Enslin sealed Mattie’s fate; he grew up and became a writer.
Growing up Mattie said he was a quiet sensitive child, but as an adolescent he was a complete hellion. Some of his fondest memories are with his friend Mason Axeford. “He knew how to build everything. We built forts and we would dam up streams.”
His childhood memories are good ones, full of adventure and mischief. “A lot of my friends dropped out of high school. Not dropping out helped shape me.”
He attended Bard College in New York, then moved to San Francisco where he met his wife Kristin. “We are very much in love,” he said. “She is also a writer”.
Both Mattie and Kristin are in the process of writing books. Kristin is working on a novel and Mattie is writing a book of poetry.
“Poetry got me through all the hard times. It’s like my church,” he said.
Three years after graduating from college Mattie was ready for a little bit of an adventure, so he and Kristin headed to Italy. Once there they began knocking on doors looking for a place to rent…..then they found it in Leccea and ‘it’ was an old palace, complete with antique furniture, bird cages and five balconies.
Mattie began writing for the website Europe Up Close, he was just 27, and wrote more than 400 articles in three years….while living in a palace.
“I take a lot of risks. I am lucky, but I work my ass off,” he said with a hint of a smile.
Mattie now resides in Portland and is the editor of Eater Portland where he has written more than 633 articles since taking the helm at Eater in July 2015. In addition to his work at Eater, Mattie has also written for Northwest Travel and Life Magazine, Thrillist, Travel and Escape Magazine, Edible Portland, Washington Magazine, Total Tattoo, Skin & Ink, and BootsNAll.com, and many more. He has also written a travel guide to Naples, Italy for Northstar Travel Media, and has updated travel guides to cities throughout Italy, Portland and Seattle.
Mattie has also co-authored Coffee Encounters, which is a book on the Australian micro-roaster scene.
“I will never leave culinary travel writing,” he said. Although Eater Portland is an online publication Mattie said he also likes to write for print publications, “you can write longer articles and consumers aren’t trying to get news, they are actually enjoying the process of reading.”
I asked Mattie what brought him to Oregon. “It’s like the holy trifecta: city, wilderness and wine.”
Mattie is most definitely an Oregon Maverick. Log onto www.mattiejohnbamman.com to read some of the great articles he has written about Portland, the Pacific Northwest, Italy and more.
“I will write forever. That is why I am here,” he told me before we parted ways, and just like that our time together that day was done. I always find these encounters unique and I feel so fortunate to also be put on this earth to write, it has given me license to step into someone’s life for a moment and try to put into a few words what makes a person breath in and breath out, day after day. I always, always, always walk away from these encounters richer than when I walked in. Thank you Mattie Bamman for sharing your story with me, and I am looking forward to our next visit.
“Who wouldn’t want to be an Oregon Maverick? Oregon is one of the last parts of the world with a robust ecosystem still intact, and the quality of life, in Portland especially, is pretty high. I love this state and care a lot about protecting its uniqueness.”