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Monday, September 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ready, set, Get Lit!

Annual festival hosted by EWU takes over Spokane

When it comes to Get Lit, there’s so much to talk about. There are the prize-winning, best-selling visiting authors. There are the prize-winning best-selling local authors. There is both pie and whiskey. There are book launches and panels, a party or two, and a poetry reading/music concert.

To help us sort through it all, we spoke with Get Lit director Melissa Huggins to go over the highlights.

The event she’s personally most jazzed about

Cornelius Eady is an acclaimed poet and author of eight collections, including “Hardheaded Winter.” In 2013, he released “Book of Hooks,” a two-CD and chapbook set of original songs. Soon after, Eady and a group of musicians, poets and composers gathered to form the band Rough Magic. Eady and Rough Magic will perform on April 15.

“We always like to have events that mix it up from the standard reading format,” Huggins said. “For the last few years we’ve tried to have at least one event that had a music component. I think this event is a really fun, exciting way to do that.

“And I love Eady’s work. It’s really interesting and perfect considering various cultural conversations over the past couple of years because his work deals a lot with class and race. Subject-wise, that was something that was really important for us to have at this year’s festival.”

(7 p.m. April 15, the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St. $15)

Different venues

Get Lit is returning to the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox for the first time in a few years. Seattle author Garth Stein, who wrote the best-selling “The Art of Racing of the Rain,” and who will read from his latest book, “A Sudden Light,” will take the Fox stage next weekend.

The Spokane-based zine Heavy Edit, created by Ceilan Hunter-Green, will release its latest issue on April 16 at the Observatory bar, a new venue downtown. Previous issues have featured works by novelist Kris Dinnison and Spokane poets Ellen Welcker and Maya Jewell Zeller, so “she’s getting really cool, excellent local writers to participate,” Huggins said.

Meanwhile, the Washington Cracker Co. building, the home of Terrain, will play host to the joint book launch by Shawn Vestal (“Daredevils”) and Sam Ligon ( “Wonderland,” “Among the Dead and Dreaming”).

“During Get Lit last year, they (the building) were not quite ready yet,” Huggins said. “That will definitely be a fun one.”

Look for profiles of Vestal and Ligon in The Spokesman-Review on Sunday.

(Garth Stein, 7 p.m. April 16, the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave., $15; Heavy Edit, the Observatory, 15 S. Howard St., free, 21 and older; Vestal/Ligon reading, 8-10 p.m. Tuesday, Washington Cracker Co., 304 W. Pacific Ave., free)

More new releases

Ligon, Vestal and Heavy Edit are not the only book launches at Get Lit. “Railtown Almanac,” which last year created an anthology of Spokane poetry, this year is releasing a prose edition in conjunction with Get Lit. Local graphic artist Simeon Mills will officially launch his graphic novel “Butcher Paper” at Get Lit as well. A collection of poetry on motherhood, “All We Can Hold,” also will be unveiled.

Huggins loves to see authors debut their work during the festival.

“Lots of presses and individuals are wanting to launch their books during the festival, which makes it feel exciting, and everyone’s looking forward and anticipating these books,” she said. “It makes it feel celebratory.”

(Free at the Spokane Convention Center on April 16: “Railtown Almanac” book launch, 1:45 p.m.; “Butcher Paper” release, noon; “All We Can Hold” release, noon)

The other headliners

Diane Cook, who used to be a producer for “This American Life,” has released her debut collection, “Man Vs. Nature.”

“Her stories are really funny and sly and strange and off kilter, in the way that Sharma Shields’ work is funny and weird and cool,” Huggins said.

Then there’s Paul Harding, who has a particularly inspiring story. He shopped his novel, “Tinkers,” to everyone, only to see it rejected over and over, Huggins said. Finally a small press picked it up, printed a few thousand copies, and the glowing reviews started rolling in. “Tinkers” went on to win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His latest book is “Enon.” Harding will share the stage with Spokane’s Nance Van Winckel, who will read from her “scrapbook novel,” “Ever Yrs.,” and possibly preview a few selections from her upcoming book, due later this year, Huggins said.

(Diane Cook, 3 p.m. April 16, Spokane Convention Center, free; Paul Harding and Nance Van Winckel, 7 p.m. Thursday, the Lincoln Center, $15)

The pie and the whiskey

Sam Ligon once again has gathered up a bunch of friends and the festival’s visiting writers for Pie & Whiskey. It’s simple, really. The audience samples a slice of pie and a shot of Dry Fly whiskey while the writers share original stories that reference pie and whiskey. This year’s lineup features 13 writers, including Jess Walter, Kris Dinnison, Ellen Welcker, Leyna Krow, Mark Anderson and M.L. Smoker. Don’t be late. In fact, be early. The venue fills up quickly.

(9:30-11 p.m. Thursday, Spokane Women’s Club, 1428 W. Ninth Ave., $5)

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