Since 1998, Get Lit has been celebrating the written word.
The 2017 edition of the annual regional literary festival is no different. As we gear up for a week of author readings, workshops, panels and other bits of fun, we spoke with interim Get Lit director Kate Peterson about festival highlights.
The crop of headlining authors include novelist Laila Lalami (Wednesday, Spokane Community College Lair Auditorium - this event is free), poet and essay writer Albert Goldbarth (with Christopher Howell and Nance Van Winckel, Thursday, the Lincoln Center), and poet John Rybecki (with Polly Buckingham, Saturday, Spokane Convention Center). There are two readings featuring double headliners: novelist Emily Ruskovich with poet Jamaal May (Friday, the Bing Crosby Theater), and novelist Justin Torres and Meghan Daum (April 23, the Bing), who writes fiction, nonfiction and essays.
“We also have Alexandra Teague and Jason Rekulak, who are reading at Auntie’s,” Peterson said. “So they’re both pretty big names, especially Alexandra in this area.” (Teague, who lives in Moscow, Idaho, is an accomplished poet who just released her first novel, “The Principles Behind Flotation.”)
“Instead of having one or two big names this year, we have a lot of headliners,” she said, later adding, “I think having two readers - the Jamaal May and Emily Ruskovich and then Meghan Daum and Justin Torres - I think it’s going to be a great way to get people in the door if they’re only familiar with one of those writers. Then they might get to learn about someone new.”
Keeping it on campus
Get Lit is sponsored by Eastern Washington University, but events have tended to be centered in downtown Spokane. “We’re doing more things in Cheney this year,” she said. “I’ve been teaching at Eastern as an adjunct for three years, so I wanted to make sure we do a little more in Cheney to get more of the students involved.”
On Friday, there are panels on queer women writers, literary careers, singer-songwriters and a reading for the undergraduate literary magazine Northwest Boulevard. There also will be a “Page to Stage” theatrical event at the EWU theater featuring works by Julie Moulds and Rybecki, who also give a talk to a class.
Pie and Whiskey finds a new home
One of the highlights of Get Lit is Pie and Whiskey. Created six years ago by writer and teacher Sam Ligon, it features festival authors reading short work inspired by pie and whiskey. For a $5 donation, audience members can enjoy a slice of pie, baked by “Pie School” author Kate Lebo with an assist from Batch Bakeshop, and shot of Dry Fly Whiskey. After years at the Women’s Club on Spokane’s lower South Hill, Pie and Whiskey moves to the Terrain space, the Washington Cracker Building, 304 W. Pacific Ave. Doors open at 9 p.m. Thursday, and the reading starts at 9:30. Get there early. This event fills up fast.
(Speaking of food and drink-related Get Lit events, new this year is the Inspired Happy Hour, in which local restaurants create cocktails and dishes themed around Get Lit authors. For details, see Rachel Toor’s story here .)
Music as literature
The Nobel Prize committee turned heads late last year when it awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to singer-songwriter-legend Bob Dylan. But as Peterson sees it, casting songwriters in a literary event makes sense.
So this year there’s the panel in Cheney featuring singer-songwriter Liz Rognes, who will team up with Keleren Millham on Saturday to lead a workshop in lyric writing. Then that night, there will be an afterparty, a benefit concert at 9:30 at the Bartlett featuring Millham, Rognes, Scott Ryan Ingersoll and Sam Foley. Suggested donation for admission is $10.
“That was something I wanted to do because I really like music. I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I really kind of got into poetry because of music, and because of people who were writing really great lyrics,” she said. “With Bob Dylan winning the Nobel, I thought it would be a cool thing to do this year.”
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