Orcas Island Lit Fest is the perfect weekend for Seattle readers




Anyone lucky enough visiting the San Juan Islands, with their quiet beaches, misty sea breezes and groves of untouched forest, helps understand why the small archipelago nestled in the Salish Sea would be fertile ground for artistic pursuits. As you walk through the lush trees of Moran State Park or stroll along the rocky shoreline at Lime Kiln Point, the historic lighthouse that looms before you, it’s easy to see why such a place would attract poets and painters. en masse.

Orcas Island Lit Fest co-founder Jule Treneer highlights the island’s annual event film festival and chamber music festival as evidence of a disproportionately impressive arts community (Orcas is only home to a few thousand year-round residents), and says he founded the literary festival in 2018 to bring together the area’s strong network of writers and readers . “It’s a lovely place to come and see,” he says, referring to Orcas, “and listen to people talking about books and ideas.”

This year’s festival, which would have been the fifth annual but is actually the third, will kick off with a free lighted walk on Friday afternoon. Six locations around Eastsound, including the very charming Darvill Bookstore and Doe Bay Wine Cowill organize readings by regional authors such as Tara Conklin (The girl of the house) and Kelly McWilliams (mirror girls), while the Barnacle, a cocktail bar with elegant nautical touches, will host live music later in the evening to accompany the conversation with the co-founders of Publishing house St. Ode Pressan indie art print outfit based on Orcas.

Saturday brings the main event: The festival’s featured authors will take the stage for readings of their work and panel discussions like “Women Confusing Expectations,” where Sonora Jha, Kristen Millares Young, Laura Read and Alexandra Teague will discuss the shaping pressure exerted on literature by patriarchy. A book fair showcasing small presses and literary journals will also take place on Saturday afternoon.




Among the artists featured this year, Treneer says he’s particularly excited about Washington State Book Award and Nebula Award-winning author Nicola Griffith, a self-proclaimed “queer cripple with a doctorate” whose most recent novel, Spear, is a feminist reimagining of the world of Arthurian legends. Ancient New York Times Opinion columnist and novelist Timothy Egan, another Seattleite, joins prominent Latinx playwright Octavio Solis (currently the artist-in-residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Californian novelist Danzy Senna and children’s author Rosanne Parry in the programming.

Although the Saturday Lighted Walk is free, other events require Ticketing. A one-day pass will set you back $52.50 while a full festival pass costs $72.50.


Other literary events to mark this summer:

Vauhini Vara with David Shields
June 2, 7 p.m. | Elliott Bay Book Company, free

Dedication of Ly Tran
June 3, 2 p.m. | Naked

Ottessa Moshfegh talks Lapvone
June 27, 7 p.m. | central library

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