*Afterthought #72—Orcas Island Lit Fest 2018


Sometimes opportunities come along that you never could have anticipated. That’s the case with an invitation I received last spring to join the board of the inaugural Orcas Island Lit Fest.


Press_release_1_Collage_DigitalAG_previewThe three-day festival (April 13-15) on Orcas Island will welcome a diverse group of emerging new voices as well as critically acclaimed and award-winning writers, poets, and literary figures from around the world to celebrate the literary arts. How lucky I am to be a part of the planning for this exciting event, just a short ferry ride away.

A couple of years ago I attended the Oakland Book Festival and learned how literary festivals are different from writing conferences. They’re both about books and writing and authors, but festivals, like the upcoming one on Orcas, bring together people who love to read books with the authors who love to write them.

Sam Gailey, author and OILF board member, describes it this way:

“The Orcas Island Lit Festival is doing for literature what the Telluride Film Fest has done so magically and intimately for filmmakers.”

There’s loads of information on the festival website (updates added almost daily), so that’s the place to check for all the details, to buy tickets (only $65 for a weekend pass), and to volunteer or support the festival in this, its first year. Until you click to the page, here’s a quick overview.

Darvills_Bookstore_Eastsound (1)The festival will kick off Friday night with a Lit Walk and open mic readings at locations around quaint Eastsound Village. Saturday morning, Family Lit Fun will host Thor Hanson, readings by characters in costumes, a kids’ coloring station, and readings by award-winning Young Adult authors. That same morning, the Book Fair opens at the Orcas Center for the Arts, featuring book sales by Darvill’s Bookstore, book signings, and exhibits by literary journals, independent presses and publishers. Food and a book arts exhibit will be available at the Center all weekend, too.

For those readers who also are writers, writing workshops will also happen at various locations around the island during the morning on Saturday and Sunday. There’s a workshop fee (scholarships available) to sign up for one of these four workshops by Ana Maria Spagna, Kevin Clark, Write Doe Bay, and Josh Mohr.

Two tracks of moderated panel discussions begin Saturday afternoon featuring invited artists, thought leaders, and publishing professionals. On Saturday evening, the Lit Fest’s marquee event (additional fee) takes place on the Orcas Center’s main stage, with readings by the festival’s award-winning lineup of invited authors. Afterwards, things get a bit more raucous at the Battle of the Genres gala after-party. Sunday morning is day two of the workshop program and more fantastic panels to attend at the Orcas Center, all of it capped off with a final closing event at the Book Fair.


I hope to see you there!

*Afterthought #70 – Reblog of “It’s Just Nerves” Review


The release of a new book by an author I know is always a delight, and Kelly Davio’s essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability, is no exception. Kelly writes clearly, concisely, and at times with wit about chronic conditions (specifically her own experience with myasthenia gravis) and ableism. She says what is rarely spoken about the ignorance, and at times mean-spiritedness, about people with disabilities. I shook my head in disbelief about some of her experiences of discrimination, exclusion, and disregard, yet, sadly, I know she writes truthfully.

As a retired nurse, my stomach knotted as I had to acknowledge my own limited understanding and complicity in systems that too often focus on the diagnosis and lose sight of the person. It’s Just Nerves is a tough, yet necessary, read.

Sonya Huber, an author and teacher whose “body is also awry,” reviewed Davios’ book recently in Brevity Magazine.  Huber’s opening summarizes Davio’s book well:

As many essayists and memoirists know, poets often stroll into nonfiction and bowl a perfect strike, knocking us all over like so many bowling pins. Kelly Davio’s skill as a poet  in full effect in the pages of her new essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability. She’s underselling with that word “notes,” as each of the twenty-five essays contained here is a miracle of compression. And as the best poems and essays do, these works pull upward and outward with taut energy, connecting specific experiences and resonant details to overarching themes relevant to any reader who happens to live in a body. 

Huber’s review conveys how Davio’s collection is a fine example of the power of the essay to reflect and make sense of  life. Even better is to read Davio’s own words about her experience of disability. The book is available wherever books are sold.



*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #69 – Reblog: Quaker Indian Boarding Schools

Writing companion and fellow Quaker,  Gretchen Wing,  posted an essay earlier this week that needs to be read widely. I’m re-posting it here as we end a month filled with so many revelations about oppressive (and illegal) actions and mis-use of power. The history Gretchen writes of describes Quakers’ complicity in suppressing Native American culture and wisdom through the creation of Quaker Indian Boarding Schools.

I join Gretchen and Quaker teacher Paula Palmer (who recently wrote an article in Friends Journal on this issue) in asking myself the questions being asked by Native organizations:  “Who are Friends today? Knowing what we know now, will Quakers join us in honest dialogue? Will they acknowledge the harm that was done? Will they seek ways to contribute toward healing processes that are desperately needed in Native communities?”

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.


Facing History and Ourselves, Quaker Style: Indian Boarding Schools are Our Shame, Too

by Gretchen Wing

Facing History and Ourselves is the title of a book and a mini-course in Holocaust Education. I took the course and used the book myself in my high school teaching. But what about that uniquely American, slo-mo Holocaust, the attempted eradication of Native culture? In grad school I learned about the Indian boarding schools of […]

via Facing History and Ourselves, Quaker Style: Indian Boarding Schools Are Our Shame Too — Wing’s World

*Afterthought #68 – Fall Reading List

Here on the Salish Sea, signs of autumn appear every day—nippy early mornings and evenings, apples reddening, fog hovering in the bay, and sun and rain glinting on firs and cedars. I’ve pulled out sweaters and dug out my socks from the bottom of the drawer. Ahhhh, my favorite season. I’m looking forward to the slower pace and time indoors to delve into my fall reading list. This year, I’m building a stack of titles by writers who also are friends. They’re all published by smaller presses (including the one who published my memoir, Homebound Publications) and likely aren’t well-known to many readers, but their writing is top notch. So, if you’re looking for books to curl up with, I recommend these (all available now or soon, wherever books are sold):

Heidi-Barr-Cover-250Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth by Heidi Barr is a collection of essays rooted in the rhythm of the natural world. Through the turn of the seasons, Heidi illustrates how the cycles of the earth have informed her everyday life from community to vocation to the food that finds its way to the dinner table. Through gardening, simple living, and prioritizing sustainability, she paints a picture of how remaining close to the earth provides a solid foundation even as the climate changes and the story of the world shifts. Part stories, part wonderings, and part call to act, this collection of meditations invites reflection, encourages awareness, and inspires action. For more information, read my interview with Heidi Barr.

Companions-on-the-Way-250In Companions on the Way, Gunilla Norris has given us all a magnificent gift: A simple book of wisdom so straightforward, so without jargon, and so comforting to read, that no one will want to be without it on the bedside table. Here is a lifetime of good sense. Here are beautiful sentences. And here is a book that is like Grandmother’s arms: entirely reassuring, safe, full of sweetness, and a deep sense of home.” –Stephen Cope, Senior Scholar in Residence, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, bestselling author of The Great Work of Your Life, and Soul Friends.


Drawing from sources ranging from the ancient apocalyptic traditions to contemporary science, The Great Re-Imagining by Theodore Richards explores the deep narratives that have brought us to the brink of apocalypse and invites us to re-imagine our place in the world.


paddlingInspired partly by her own spirit of adventure, and partly by the stories of her native coastal ancestors, Irene Skyriver celebrated her fortieth year of life with a solo kayak voyage, paddling from Alaska to her home on Washington’s Lopez Island. Paddling with Spirits interweaves the true account of Irene’s journey with generational stories handed down and vividly re-imagined. The book dips like a paddle itself between the stories of those who inspired her, and Irene’s own journey down a lonely coast.


tear in the soul

A Tear in the Soul by Amanda Webster – Born into privilege and wealth, Amanda is a sixth generation Australian descended from white settlers and the third generation to grow up in Kalgoorlie. When she turned five, Amanda became friends with Aboriginal children from the nearby Kurrawang Mission. Forty years later, she confronts her racist blunders, her cultural ignorance and her family’s secret past. And so begins her journey of reconciliation and friendship, taking her into a world she hardly knew existed.


Congratulations and thank you to all of these fine writers. Let the rains begin; I’m ready!