Eastern Washington University’s Get Lit! Programs engages members of the Inland Northwest community in a celebration of the written word by encouraging discussion, at all age levels, of literature in its many forms. The Get Lit! Festival is an annual celebration of reading, writing, and storytelling. The weeklong festival includes readings, interviews, workshops, panel discussions, poetry slams, writing contests, and much more. With thousands of people attending from Spokane and the surrounding region each April, the festival has become an integral part of the artistic and cultural landscape of the Inland Northwest. Plus our on-going educational outreach programs—Authors Tour, Writers-in-Residence, —reach more than 5,000 students annually. We target low-income, rural, and alternative schools to help develop literacy, engage students in discussions around literature, and encourage students to think critically and creatively about our world. As one sixth-grade student put it, Get Lit! Programs “helps your mind grow.”
The ultimate goal of Get Lit! Programs, which includes educational outreach activities as well as an annual literary festival, is to engage the Inland Northwest community in a celebration of the written word and to encourage discussion, at all age levels, of literature in its many forms. Overall, Get Lit! Programs enhances the artistic, social, and cultural life of people throughout the region. Each spring, the Get Lit! Festival invites selected authors to Spokane to share their work and their passion for writing. Some of these authors enjoy a reputation in the Northwest, while others have earned national or even international renown. The week-long celebration features presentations and readings, writing workshops and panel discussions, visits by authors to K-12 schools and colleges/universities, community readings, and poetry slams, along with other events. Readers and writers alike find a wellspring of talent, inspiration, and learning at the Get Lit! Festival. Get Lit! educational outreach programs—writing residencies and author visits to K-12 schools, as well as discussions between teachers and writers—support the sense of discovery, the enhancement of self-knowledge, and the simple pleasure inherent in reading and writing. Our educational outreach activities focus on the next generation of writers, engaging them in discussions around literature and introducing them to the tools they need to develop their own abilities as writers. We seek to broaden and deepen language arts skills by encouraging students to think critically and creatively about our world. As one sixth-grade student put it, reading and writing skills “help your mind grow.”
|Kate Peterson earned her MFA from Eastern Washington University in Spokane, where she now works as Director of Get Lit! Programs. Kate also works as a mentor for EWU in the High Schools, and as a marketing assistant for The MFA at EWU. Her poetry and prose has been published in many literary magazines including Glassworks, Rattle, Sugar House Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Packingtown Review, and others. Her chapbook Grist won the Floating Bridge Chapbook Prize and was published in 2016. Learn more at katelaurenpeterson.tumblr.com. Contact Kate via firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-828-1435.|
|Jenny Newell, Assistant Coordinator, is an MFA student at Eastern Washington, cat mom, writer, awkward human. Loves coffee, Harry Potter, sleep, and lipstick. She lives in Spokane, WA with her husband and two insane cats. She is published in Beautiful Losers magazine. You can contact Jenny through email@example.com.|
|Heidi Lasher is a non-fiction MFA student in her first of what might be many years in the program. Her writing has appeared (and grown thick with dust) in academic journals, white papers, small-town weeklies, and grocery store newsletters. When her kids aren’t around, she tries to think of good questions to ask them when they get off the bus from school. This strategy has not yet yielded the desired results.|
|Deanna Duplechain has written poetry and short stories for years, but has shared her work publicly as a playwright. Her first career was in the theatre heading companies in NYC and Las Vegas. She has traveled extensively but is glad to have a home back in the Northwest which she shares with her husband Tod and dog Ella.|
|Kailee Haong is a first year MFA student and fiction writer. She is published in the third volume of Spokane’s very own Lilac City Fairy Tales. Her hobbies include playing fetch with her Siamese cat, enjoying a glass of reasonably-priced Cabernet, and collecting stickers where she will never know where to put. Her favorite thing to argue about is the fact that Marie Antionette never said “Let them eat cake.”|
|Leona Vander Molen is a first year MFA student at EWU studying nonfiction. She likes to throw parties in her modest apartment, hang out with cats, and drink gin & tonics (not mutually exclusive). Her poetry was recently published in Thirteen Myna Birds online publication and she’s very excited about it. Leona loves meeting new people so if you see her please say hello and be her friend.|
|Kristyna Schedine is a first-year fiction student in the MFA in program. In her down time, you can usually find her relentlessly cuddling her cat, making travel plans, or baking something that smells absurdly good. Kristyna has an uncanny store of Harry Potter knowledge, and was once quizzed for three hours without getting a single question wrong. This earned her a free burrito.|
|Genevieve Richards is a first year Nonfiction MFA candidate at EWU. When she’s not writing, reading, or teaching, you can find her bebopping around local coffee shops and dreaming about the day she can rescue a border collie pup and name him Sherlock.|
|Hannah Metcalf is a first year MFA student and nonfiction writer. A born and raised Alaskan, she now lives in Spokane with her husband in constant search of good hiking trails. Her hobbies include running, drinking coffee, and keeping her houseplants alive.|
|Kerry Rutherford earned a degree in anthropology from the University of Washington, and then headed north to Kodiak, Alaska. Over the years she has been a crab-pot webber, teacher, grant writer, mother, musician, waitress, nonprofit grants administrator and program developer. Calling Indiana home for nine years, Kerry worked for an arts nonprofit and spent her free time creating music, writing, painting, producing a CD of original songs and publishing a book of poems. Now back in Washington Kerry has finally realized her lifelong dream to obtain an MFA and is in her first year at EWU in the MFA program in nonfiction.|
The Get Lit! Programs office relies on a range of student talent. Student assistants from various majors work through year-long internships. Their dedication is crucial to the success of Get Lit! Programs. Several classes also participate in preparations for the festival. For example, various marketing materials are created by Visual Communication and Design students, festival surveys are created and analyzed by a marketing class, etc. Get Lit! strives to create an interactive learning environment that connects all members of the community. Special thanks to all of our interns! If you are intersted in becoming a Get Lit! intern (must be enrolled in a local university or community college) please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Get Lit! Festival began in 1998 as a one-day marathon of literary readings sponsored by Eastern Washington University Press and EWU’s Department of Creative Writing. Then The Spokesman-Review lovingly called it “the little literary festival that could,” and they were right. By 2004, the audience had swelled to 10,000 people from Spokane and the surrounding region. More recently, The Spokesman-Review referred to the festival as the literary equivalent to Spokane’s nationally recognized sporting events, Hoopfest and Bloomsday. Housed within Eastern Washington University’s College of Arts, Letters, and Education, the Get Lit! Festival continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Each year, we partner with local institutions such as Gonzaga University, Spokane Community College, Spokane Falls Community College, North Idaho College, and Whitworth University; as well as community organizations and businesses to bring over 40 authors to each festival. Get Lit! Programs includes:
- The Get Lit! Festival, a weeklong book festival held every April
- Writers in the Schools programs, including Author’s Tour and Writers in Residence
- Poetry Out Loud, a national program for which Get Lit! serves as the Eastern Washington region coordinator. Poetry Out Loud engages high school students in contemporary & classic poetry through recitation and performance.
- The Spokane Youth Book festival (SpoYo), took place in October 2015
- A Visiting Writer Series, featuring 8-10 authors per academic year, in partnership with The MFA at EWU.