Get Lit! Festival 2019 in Spokane 4/22-4/28

An Introduction to Get Lit! Programs' annual festival and sample of this year's events.

EWU's Get Lit! Festival poster from 2018. The festival will feature over 75 authors and around 40 events.

Erik Rotness

EWU's Get Lit! Festival poster from 2018. The festival will feature over 75 authors and around 40 events.

By Erik Rotness, A&F Editor

Get Lit! Programs has celebrated writing for over 20 years, and its annual literary festival is right around the corner.

This year’s Get Lit! Festival runs from April 22-28 and celebrates the written word with a week long series of programs and events including literary readings, writing workshops, panel discussions and poetry slams.

“We have events throughout the week all over Spokane and Cheney,” director Kate Peterson said. “We even have some in Coeur d’Alene as well, but we have one full day of events at the Montvale Event Center (in Spokane) on Saturday the 27th.”

This year’s festival features around 40 events and over 75 authors.

“There will be more going on in literature over a few days in Spokane, I would say, than pretty much any other city in the United States,” EWU professor and author Jonathan Johnson said. “It’s a really great opportunity for the local literary community to connect with the national and international literary community. Spokane becomes, for a week in the spring, a great literary center. There’s writing for all kinds of tastes and all ages, and the festival does a great job of attracting writers who appeal broadly as well as to specialty audiences.”

During the festival, Johnson will be reading from his newest poetry book, “May Is an Island,” on Thursday, April 25 from 7-8 p.m. at the downtown public library in Spokane. Johnson will also speak at the Playwriting In The Inland Northwest event on Friday, April 26 from noon to 1 p.m. at North Idaho College, Seiter Hall, 102.

There will be more going on in literature over a few days in Spokane, I would say, than pretty much any other city in the United States”

— Jonathan Johnson, EWU professor and author

Johnson said that he looks forward to the festival’s Pie and Whiskey event, which is on Thursday, April 25 from 9-11:30 p.m. at the Washington Cracker Co.

“Over the evening you get to hear a wide variety of readers who write something specifically for that reading,” Johnson said. “Everything that’s read at that reading has to have pie and whiskey in it. A highlight for me was watching local poet Travis Naught read from his wheelchair at Pie and Whiskey and bring the house down with his humor and smart language.”

Peterson said she’s excited to continue offering events in Cheney.

“When I took over … I wanted to make sure that we were doing things that would involve students,” Peterson said. “In 2017, we started doing a full day of activities in Cheney.”


Get Lit events

This year’s events in Cheney will run from 9 a.m. to around 2 p.m. on Friday, April 26 and feature readings, panel discussions and guest lectures from authors. EWU’S undergraduate literary magazine Northwest Boulevard will celebrate an author it’s published, Thom Caraway, with a reading on Friday, April 26 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the JFK Library.  

Below is a sample of events to come during the festival in Peterson’s own words, though it begins with a disclaimer: “We try to make sure there are different events for different audiences … There are just too many to choose from,” Peterson said. “I wouldn’t want to try and promote one over the other.”


The happy hour at Wandering Table is going to be really fun. If people are interested in poetry and fine cuisine and we’re hoping that we can get some musicians to come … then we also have our writers in the community poetry slams that night.


We’re partnering with the (Spokane) Riverkeeper and the Center for Justice and we’re doing some events at the Saranac building in their niche co-working space. We have three different events going on Tuesday night. The one at 7 p.m. is going to be with Melissa Kwasny and Jennifer Boyden. I’m really excited about them.


Wednesday night is our Tommy Orange event at SCC. That’s one of our big headlining events and that one’s free for anyone to get in.


Since I already talked about Pie and Whiskey … we also have Jonathan Johnson and Sharma Shields reading at the library.


Friday night is Kaveh Akbar and Kelly Schirmann and that is $12 but free for students.


A full day of activities, but then we have our main headlining event Roxane Gay that evening.


Sunday is kind of a more casual day. We have a reading with some of our regional MFA writers, so people who are in the region and part of MFA programs come and read for us. We also have a faculty feature and alumni reading for Eastern. They’re both at Interpunct Press.


To make the festival a reality, Get Lit! Programs partners with other EWU programs, local community colleges and multiple foundations.

“It’s definitely a community effort,” Peterson said.

Those interested in volunteering for the Get Lit! Festival can get involved by sending an email to [email protected].