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Ready for Round Two 

A second edition of the Railtown Almanac anthology highlights the region's diverse prose writers

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As the Inland Northwest continues to witness an explosion of literary greatness, it's become easier than ever to track down the creative output of those on a growing list of local writing talent.

In recent years, several new anthology projects highlighting that talent have been released, including Lilac City Fairy Tales and Spokane Shorties. And back for a second publishing this spring comes volume two of Railtown Almanac, debuting during Saturday's Get Lit! events.

While the first inception of Railtown, released in October 2014 for Spokane Arts Month, featured a diverse array of local poets' work, Volume 2 is a prose-focused collection. A project started by Spokane's first Poet Laureate, Thom Caraway (2013-15), and Gonzaga professor Jeffrey Dodd, the 179-page prose edition features new works by both established and rising Spokane writers. Recognizable names on the table of contents include Sharma Shields, Kris Dinnison, Sam Ligon, Shann Ray and Rachel Toor.

Published by Sage Hill Press, for which Caraway serves as publisher, Railtown Almanac also features work by some of the area's youngest writers, students in college and high school. The forthcoming prose collection was co-edited by Dodd and Kate Reed, also an English professor at Gonzaga.

As with Railtown's poetry collection, pieces selected for the second anthology needed to meet the criteria of being by a Spokane writer or recognizably set in the area.

"A few of the people [featured] were in both issues, but this gives us a whole new sampling of Spokane writers, while also highlighting the strengths of the whole Spokane writing scene, not just poets or just novelists," Caraway says.

After the first Railtown edition was released a year and a half ago, Caraway heard from numerous writer friends begging for a prose version. Branching out to other forms of writing had always been his and Dodd's eventual plan, and during the open submission period last year they reached out to some of those writers, encouraging them to submit work.

"One of the things I like most about all the stuff we've done is that there are so many different voices," Caraway notes. "Even though it's all coming out of Spokane, you have this great breadth and depth of voices, and that's fantastic. You don't want your community to fall into one rut or pigeonhole, and we are amazing in that way because we have so many different kinds of writers."

Saturday's Railtown Almanac Vol. 2 debut features readings by the following contributors: Laurie Klein, Chris Cook, Travis Laurence Naught, Jaime Baird, Maya Jewell Zeller, Jennifer Catlin, Mary Kunkel, Aileen Keown Vaux, Annie Kilfoyle, Molly Smith and Melissa Dziedzic.

Attendees can purchase copies of the anthology before and after the reading. Later, the book will be available at Auntie's and other local bookstores. ♦

Railtown Almanac: Prose Edition Book Launch • Sat, April 16, from 1:45-3:15 pm • Spokane Convention Center, Room 206A

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