The folks behind EWU's Get Lit! Festival make life difficult every year.
They stuff the schedule with so many goodies over the course of seven days that there's nothing for poetry and prose fans to do except either set aside any outside interests and dive in whole hog, or suffer through picking and choosing what visiting authors' readings, intriguing panel discussions or poetry throwdowns they will prioritize and organize their lives around.
With that in mind, I picked a few events that caught my eye; you can find so much more and the complete schedule of options running from April 22-28 by visiting getlitfestival.org.
WOMEN WRITING THE WEST
Tue, April 23, 7 pm, Community Building, free
There are a lot of literary festivals, so we love when Get Lit! and its authors zero in on our region and its natural wonders. This talk features three women whose work is rooted in nature and the rural West. Jennifer Boyden is the award-winning author of the novel The Chief of Rally Tree and two books of poetry. Keetje Kuipers' poetry has appeared in hundreds of publications. And Melissa Kwasny is a poet as well as author of the new Putting on the Dog: The Animal Origins of What We Wear, an exploration of humans' relationships with all the critters who cover our bodies with their fur, feathers and hides.
Wed, April 24, 7 pm, Spokane Community College Lair Student Center Auditorium, free
Tommy Orange's debut novel There, There landed on myriad "top 10" and "best of" year-end lists in 2018, and with good reason. His ornately constructed look at the lives of nearly a dozen Native characters converging on an Oakland powwow with varying levels of hope and desperation is both an entrancing, propulsive page-turner and glimpse at urban Native life and issues addressed all too rarely in fiction (or nonfiction for that matter). Orange, a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Art and enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, will talk about his writing process, Native American history and, one would imagine, dealing with sudden fame.
PIE & WHISKEY: HEROES AND VILLAINS
Thu, April 25, 9 pm, Washington Cracker Co. Building, $5
Thursday night of Get Lit! week is always a highlight for Inlander staffers, because how can you beat a slice of pie and a shot of whiskey accompanied by original short stories penned by ace festival friends? This year will be even more special, though, as the theme for the 13 participating storytellers, "Heroes and Villains," is drawn from event co-host Sam Ligon's new novel Miller Cane: A True and Exact History — a story currently unfolding in serialized form in every issue of the Inlander (check page 29 for the latest installment, and catch up from the start at MillerCane.Inlander.com). Join Ligon and co-host Kate Lebo along with this hard-slugging lineup of writers for this year's Pie & Whiskey: Jess Walter, Tommy Orange, Tony Flinn, Claudia Castro Luna, Alexis Smith, Bruce Holbert, Matthew Sullivan, Leni Zumas, CMarie Fuhrman, Chris Maccini and Anastacia-Renee Tolbert.
Fri, April 26, 9 pm, Spokane Downtown Public Library, free
Poetry lovers have ample opportunities to hear from some seriously talented folks throughout Get Lit!, but I love the freewheeling salon format of this event where you can hear the likes of Pushcart Prize-winner Kaveh Akbar, state poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna, Janaka Stucky (inaugural writer featured in Jack White's Third Man Books publishing arm), musician/poet Kelly Schirmann and Anastacia Renée, writer-in-residence at Seattle's Hugo House. Spokane poet Ellen Welcker will moderate what should be a pretty robust discussion about the writing life, as well as some readings from the guests.
AN EVENING WITH ROXANE GAY
Sat, April 27, 7 pm, Bing Crosby Theater, $35/$25 students
Roxane Gay's best-selling 2014 essay collection Bad Feminist announced her as a vibrant new perspective in the world's cultural conversation. In showcasing how feminism affected her life, Gay found her voice, as well as a huge audience who became fans of her intellect, humanity and empathy in addressing hot-button issues. Bad Feminist was a New York Times bestseller, and remarkably, it wasn't even the only book she put out that year; her debut novel An Untamed State also came in 2014. In the years since, Gay's voice has only become more self-assured and she's used her talents to explore writing everything from graphic novels (with World of Wakanda, she and co-writer Yona Harvey became the first black women to be lead writers for a Marvel property), to short stories (2017's Difficult Women), to memoir (another New York Times bestseller, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body). She's a widely read contributor to the opinion pages of the Guardian, New York Times, the Nation and elsewhere, and a provocative and highly entertaining presence on Twitter. Hearing her talk should be a fine capper to a thought-provoking week of Get Lit! ♦