A roundup of highlights and must-attend events for Get Lit! 2024

This year's Get Lit! Festival offers more than three dozen events, from author readings to open mics, workshops with award-winning writers and even a live Dungeons & Dragons game highlighting the power of storytelling. While the following collection of highlights is but a snapshot of the activities to catch during the festival's 26th run, a complete schedule with all the details can be accessed at getlitfestival.org.

Pie & Whiskey

Thu, April 11 from 8-10 pm, $5 (21+), Washington Cracker Co. Building

A perennial favorite that always packs the room, Pie & Whiskey unites its featured writers under the theme of, well, pie and whiskey. Created by local writing juggernauts Sam Ligon and Kate Lebo (above), the event appropriately includes homemade pie and Dry Fly Distilling whiskey (or tea and coffee) for attendees to enjoy while listening to a dozen local writers read their flash fiction, nonfiction and poetry inspired by the event's title — works guaranteed to spur laughter, tears and a whole range of emotions. The resulting 12 works are collected in a limited edition chapbook ($10) that have been locally printed and bound with a hand-stitched binding. Among this year's featured readers is the Inlander's own food writer, Eliza Billingham, alongside author Jess Walter, event creators Lebo and Ligon, and writers from near and far. A special Pie & Whiskey after-party follows from 10 to midnight at Hogwash Whiskey Den, also featuring two special festival author-inspired cocktails. (CS)

The Joy of Writing Animals

Fri, April 12 from 1-2 pm, free, Central Library

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to trade places with your furry friends? How might it feel to experience the joy of a singular swinging string or the curiosity of encountering each tree, fire hydrant and stop sign? While humans may never fully understand their pets' emotions, they have the power to explore that emotional range through the written word. This panel conversation, composed of Jessica Gigot, Caitlin Scarano, Michelle Eames, Henrietta Goodman and Ryan Scariano, aims to teach writers of all genres to tap into that power in their own literary worlds. Even if folks don't want to write animals into their future stories, this may be the perfect time to relax and write about your favorite alley cat or the marmots that you've heard so much about but have never seen. (CR)

A Strange Beautiful INW Special Collections Tour with Carla Crujido

Fri, April 12 from 2-3 pm, free, Central Library

Public libraries are a blessing to writers of all types, serving as nearly unlimited resources for research and inspiration. This event at Spokane Public Library's Inland Northwest Special Collections inside the Central Library showcases a true treasure trove of information under the guidance of local author Carla Crujido. The collection's vast local history archives played a vital role while Crujido wrote her debut short story collection, The Strange Beautiful, which centers on a cast of characters living in a historic apartment building on the lower South Hill between 1918 and 2022. The resulting collection weaves local history with fairytale-esque magical realism — a talking bear, living mannequin and tiny winged people. Crujido also created a self-guided, annotated walking tour of the many Spokane places in which her stories take place. (CS)

Poetry Salon

Fri, April 12 from 5-6 pm, free, Magic Lantern Theatre

When you learn about poetry in high school literature classes, you get the basics: Poe, Frost, Hughes, Whitman and Dickinson. But, you don't really learn about the impact that poetry has had — and continues to have! — on the world at large. This annual salon is an opportunity to learn just that. This year, poets Luther Hughes (left), Katherine Gaffney, Henrietta Goodman, Jennifer Perrine and Vincent Rendoni sit down, discuss their craft and talk about just how powerful the art form can be. This year's panel consists of poets with award-winning debut collections as well as seasoned poets with accolades galore. Walk away from this salon with a newfound or deepened respect for poetry and the writers who are excited to share it with the world. (MP)

On Other Correspondences

Fri, April 12 from 7-8 pm, free, Saranac Art Projects

A huge part of Get Lit! is the local collaborations that take place. This year, Get Lit! has partnered with Saranac Art Projects to create a unique art show that combines the work of local artists with the local (and not-so-local) authors that inspire them. Each artist involved in the show chose a writer to inspire the visual art they created for the exhibition. Mary Farrell chose Spokane writing icon Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions, while artist Lena Lopez Schindler chose food writer Kate Lebo. Local graphic artist Seth Collier chose Kurt Vonnegut, whose writing pairs well with Collier's angular, sci-fi-inspired digital art. Meanwhile, Josh Hobson tackles work inspired by author, theorist, educator and social critic bell hooks. This reception features a discussion with the artists as well as a short reading from Lebo. (MP)

Book Fair

Sat, April 13 from 9 am-5 pm, $25 (festival pass), Montvale Event Center

Pack your favorite book-toting bag, and do some shoulder stretches because it's gonna get heavy. Get Lit!'s annual book fair in the Montvale is host to more than 20 vendors, from favorite local bookstores like Auntie's and Giant Nerd to dozens of regional small presses and literary-centric groups. By purchasing a festival pass ($25), attendees not only have access to the book fair on the Montvale's main floor, but all other festival events held there that day. There's more than 10 in all, including a live Dungeons & Dragons game (Get Crit!, 2 pm), readings, panels, workshops and more. DOMA Coffee is serving free java from 9 am to noon, and Skewers (next door) offers tasty lunch options. For a full list of vendors and orgs at the book fair, check the official Get Lit! schedule. (CS)

Silent Reading Party

Sat, April 13 from 2-3 pm, $25 (festival pass), Montvale Event Center

With all of the events on the Get Lit! schedule each year, it's hard to forget that most bookworms are actually huge introverts. So after you go to the book fair and grab a new read, head upstairs to sit down and read in comfortable silence with some fellow book lovers. This event is inspired by the rise of Silent Book Clubs, a book club with no predetermined book for people who just want to sit around and read in the quiet company of others. Spokane has two chapters that meet up monthly at various local coffee shops. Kathie McAuliffe, who runs the North Spokane chapter, hosts this Silent Reading Party. The only thing you need to bring with you is your current read and your love of books! (MP)

Headlining event: An Evening with Carmen Maria Machado

Sat, April 13 from 7-8:30 pm, $25, Bing Crosby Theater

Carmen Maria Machado is a name you'll want to remember.

Years from now, you can say "I saw her at a small literary festival in Spokane," when her books inevitably come to be recognized as classic literature that everyone should read and discuss. In many ways, Machado's novels have already reached that status as they spark conversation and inspire people worldwide. Her memoir In the Dream House details an abusive, same-sex relationship through a genre-busting format and language that comes alive on the page through a mix of fantasy and horror elements. Her short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, is a haunting, otherworldly assembly of smart, sensual prose.

And, yes, Machado even dabbles in the world of graphic novels with her feminist horror comic series, The Low, Low Woods. In short, this event is a must-go at this year's festival. Local author and fellow female fiction writer Sharma Shields joins Machado on stage to discuss the headlining author's innovative storytelling style, reimagining how fiction is written, how to tell queer stories and much, much more.

In case you can't make it to this special event, festivalgoers have two additional chances to hear from Machado on Saturday. The author leads a 10 am nonfiction craft class and a 3 pm session titled "The Surreal is Real: A Conversation on Myths and Magic." Whether you're a reader or a writer, any amount of inspiration you can glean from Machado's wealth of knowledge will be incredibly valuable. (MP)

Our Kind: Poetry of Refuge, Resistance, and Recompense

Sat, April 13 from 4:30-5:30 pm, $25 (festival pass), Montvale Event Center

Poetry is arguably one of the most versatile arts in human history. On top of its dozens of classic and contemporary forms, poets have often found seemingly infinite ways to use it. In this conversation and reading, poets Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Luther Hughes and Cindy Veach speak about poetry's paradoxical power as a tool of resistance and protest as well as its role as a shelter to safely reflect and rejoice. Bacon, whose recent book Transitory memorializes nearly 50 transgender and gender-nonconforming people murdered in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, will act as the moderator for this event. Hughes' debut poetry collection explores what it means to be a Black gay man in the Pacific Northwest, and Veach's most recent collection travels back in time to the Salem witch trials and demonstrates the weight of reclaiming one's own power. (CR)

LGBTQ+ and Disabilities: Writing Our Way into Acceptance

Sun, April 14 from 2:30-3:30 pm, free, virtual event

Growing up different can be isolating. And when you're different in more ways than one, that feeling is only magnified. For this event, authors Jeffrey Dale Lofton and Greg Marshall read from their own works which both examine just that. Lofton's fictionalized memoir Red Clay Suzie explores growing up gay and disabled in rural Georgia. Marshall's memoir Leg: The Story of a Limb and the Boy who Grew from It is more of a coming-of-age-story about growing up in two closets — one as a gay man and another as someone living with cerebral palsy. Their reading is followed with a hefty conversation traversing homophobia and ableism, alongside the importance of publishing these intersectional stories. (CR) ♦