It's a literary festival that opened with a film. It's a celebration of the arts in our region that featured the work of a writer who lives in Southern California. Spokane's own festival of the word, Get Lit!, finishes with a weekend full of poetry, prose, literary presses, jazz and heavyweights.
Heavyweights? Yes, heavyweights, though not necessarily of the bodily-contact variety. One of the highlights of this weekend's literary festivities is Saturday night's Poetry Slam at Mootsy's Tavern, featuring local poet Eric Bergloff with the Seattle Slam Team and the Olympia-Seattle Writing Group.
For the uninitiated among us, a poetry slam is an event described on the Official Poetry Slam Website as being "like a lyrical boxing match that pits poets against other poets in a bout." In short, teams of poets and individual poets perform their work as dramatically, expressively and originally as they can for a group of judges drawn at random from the live audience. Slams differ from open mike readings by including the competitive factor, and distinguish themselves from other forms of performance art by forbidding costuming or props. Who says that poetry isn't as much fun as professional wrestling?
However, for word gourmets who prefer lower-impact lyricism, the weekend abounds in opportunity. Friday afternoon features an informal gathering with younger poets at the South Hill's Rockwood Bakery, and that evening anyone interested in schmoozing with the literary crowd can meet up at the Hotel Lusso downtown for more readings and a no-host bar reception welcoming the out-of-town guests.
On Saturday, along with the big slam, the writing faculty of Gonzaga University will join up with the EWU faculty for a reading at the Jundt Art Museum at 3 pm. And the children's programs, a big hit with many local writers in the past, have been expanded this year. Not only is the Children's Museum of Spokane sponsoring a reading featuring notable regional authors, but Auntie's Bookstore will hold a reading for young adults as well. And any children or adults who register in advance (by calling EWU Press at 623-4286) can take part in workshops following the reading. Another reading at Hotel Lusso caps off the evening before the slam.
The final day of the festival focuses all of the literary energies back at The Met, with the Small Press Trade Fair in the lobby starting at 11 am. Bibliophiles can browse the lineup of independent presses, purchasing reading material and gaining a better perspective on the role that small presses play throughout the Northwest's literary scene.
The big reading of the day starts at noon, featuring local luminaries such as Patrick McManus, Robert Wrigley and Claire Davis. Bassist Glen Moore from the group Oregon will perform during the breaks, as the readings stretch well into the evening. Finally, Mootsy's Tavern is the site for a reading of the works of James Wright by local favorites Tom Davis, Jonathan Johnson and Christopher Howell, with an open mike to follow.
So once it's all over, what's in store for next year? The festival has made its name exposing the local public to the literary resources available in the Inland Northwest, and festival co-director Christine Holbert plans to broaden that impact. "We're talking about expanding the festival in the future to include more venues in towns other than Spokane. I've moved to Sandpoint recently, and there are several very active writing groups here that might be interested in hosting an event."
So if the current festival and past successes are any indication, lovers of literature in the region can expect anything next year.
"The third festival has shown me that miracles do happen," says co-director Scott Poole. "If you told me three years ago we'd have this much support and enthusiasm for literature in Spokane, I would have put you on a bus to a therapist. I never imagined we'd get more than 100 people to show up. It just didn't seem like there was an audience. Well, I think endurance pays. After three years, people are starting to finally notice. The festival is gaining some legs."
& & & lt;i & Tickets: $10 gets you into all events. Call: 623-4286. & lt;/i & & lt;/center & & &
7 pm: Hotel Lusso, opening reception and readings by Domenic Stansberry, Gillian Conoley, Deidre McNamer, Katrina Roberts and a student open mike
Saturday, Oct. 7
11 am: Children's Museum, children's literature readings by Ken Nesbitt, Laurie Carlson, Deborah Hopkinson, Sarah Conover and Claire Rudolph Murphy
1 pm: Auntie's Bookstore, readings by Kevin Canty, Richard Morgan, Steven Torre, Greg Pape, Tom Davis and more
1 pm: EWU Downtown Campus, panel discussion on writing children's literature with Claire Rudolph Murphy and Deborah Hopkinson
3 pm: Auntie's Bookstore, young adult authors Perry Higman and Claire Rudolph Murphy read
3 pm: Jundt Art Museum, readings by Nance Van Winckel, Greg Spatz, John Keeble, Christopher Howell, Carolyn Kremers, Tod Marshall, Scott Poole and Dennis Held
7 pm: Hotel Lusso, readings by Madeline DeFrees, William Witherup, Patrick Todd, Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, Robin Seyfried, David Axelrod, Carlos Reyes, Tracy Daugherty and Marjorie Sandor
9 pm: Mootsy's Tavern, poetry slam with Eric Bergloff and the Seattle Slam Team and the Olympia-Seattle Writing Group
Sunday, Oct. 8 Noon-7 pm: 15-20 minute readings by Pat McManus, Robert Wrigley, William Kittredge, Kim Barnes, Denis Johnson & amp; more 8 pm: Mootsy's Tavern, Tom Davis and Christopher Howell read James Wright, followed by an open mike