EWU inspires and builds community at ‘Get Lit!’ festival

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

As the 20th annual Get Lit! Festival located in Spokane and EWU came to a close on Sunday, many EWU students, alumni and faculty walked away with a fresh sense of motivation.

Directed by former EWU English professor Kate Peterson, the week-long festival hosted up to 50 events—book readings, workshops, panel discussion, poetry slams and more—and featured over 80 local and visiting authors and artists.

“It’s a really interesting mix of very established and prominent authors, and folks who are just starting out,” Aileen Keown Vaux, career advisor for the College of Arts, Letters, and Education at EWU, said.

Writers and literary lovers from all walks of life gathered at various locations of the festival: The Bing Crosby Theater, Auntie’s Bookstore, The Montvale Event Center and EWU’s very own JFK Library to name a few.

EWU students looking ahead to post-college writing took advantage of the opportunities presented at the Get Lit! Festival. Rebecca Gonshack, Master of Fine Arts student at EWU, was one student who found the festival helpful.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to just take in a lot of poetry and stories,” Gonshack said. “It’s a good place to learn from experienced professional writers.”

Vaux, a professional writer herself, served as a facilitator for one of the events held at EWU, “The Financial Lives of Writers,” on Friday. During the panel discussion, she emphasized the importance of building networks that will supplement students’ writing careers after college.

For students and those already in the writing and literary communities, including Vaux, Get Lit! was an opportunity to establish those networks and connect with others who also may be facing difficulties in their careers.

“It is really, really challenging to be a writer in isolation,” said Vaux. “For me, [Get Lit! is] a place to really re-energize my local community connections.”

Many who participated in the festival, such as Taylor Kensel, Managing Editor for EWU’s “Willow Springs” magazine, felt the sense of community was inspiring to anyone wanting to take their creative works further.

“To reach out to other writers, get to know their people, and meet people that are interested in the same things we are, it kind of reinvigorates the writer in me,” Kensel said.

After 20 years of Get Lit!, Spokane and Cheney are becoming places of foundation that build up its writing communities into reaching their potentials.

This year, EWU has contributed to an enduring literary movement that people in the writing community want to see continue.

“I hope that the Spokane regional community sees what an important role Eastern plays in the vibrancy of the arts in our city,” Cassie Devaney, Associate Director of Alumni Relations at EWU said.   

“I see Spokane becoming a place for creative folks to be nourished,” said Vaux. “There’s a lot of momentum building in Spokane right now, and Get Lit! is a part of that.”