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 is published in Beautiful Losers magazine. You can contact Jenny through email@example.com.|
|Jenny Catlin is non-fiction writer and first year MFA student in the same discipline. She also teaches freshman comp at Eastern Washington University. Her writing has been published here and there both online and in-print, most recently in Sage Hill Press’s Railtown Almanac. She comes to Spokane from Colorado by way of Los Angeles with a few pit-stops in between. She is an unabashed cat-lady and enjoys all other things furry, feathered or scaled. She never met a cheese she didn’t like. Her long-term plans include winning the lottery and opening an off-shore writer’s colony where anything goes. Jenny expects to start peak-bagging in Colorado any day now, so far she has bagged one peak. She will challenge anyone to Peepshow or Always Sunny related trivia.|
|Virginia Thomas is an MFA candidate at Eastern Washington University’s Creative Writing program. Her poetry has appeared in Stonecoast Review and is forthcoming in Weber—The Contemporary West. She was born and raised in northwest Wyoming, and now resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband and their two cats.
|Aly Brooks is a senior at Whitworth University where she studies English literature. She hales from the fantastic city of Portland, and some of her favorite places on earth are Powell’s City of Books and the Oregon coast. Baking, visiting art museums, and attending concerts make her heart sing. Here’s hoping it’s on pitch.|
|Megan Louise Rowe is a fiction writer whose work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Fiction Fix, Blood Lotus and others. She is the managing editor of Willow Springs.|
|Sarah Thurston is a senior at Eastern Washington University, majoring in Visual Communication Design. She’s originally from Northern California, but has lived in the Spokane/Coeur d’ Alene area for the last 20 years. She loves traveling, cooking, gardening, and feeding her 6 chickens, and is proud to call Spokane her home.|
|Lydia Mulligan grew up in the red dirt of Texas. She loves climbing trees, kissing dogs, playing the ukulele, and drinking local beer. She is currently a second year MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction and is most interested in the line between poetry and nonfiction, the ideas of truth, and the concept of memory. If you meet her, she will hug you. Her hobbies include knitting warm socks, reading books in strange accents, finding the most comfy chair in a room, and practicing for her future career as a traveling minstrel.|
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.