Iris Graville is a writer and retired nurse from Lopez Island, WA. Her profiles and personal essays have been published in national and regional journals and magazines. She holds a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts where she served as nonfiction editor for Soundings Review. Iris is also the publisher of SHARK REEF online literary magazine. She blogs regularly about writing and spiritual matters. In August 2018, Iris was named the first writer-in-residence with the Washington State Ferries. You can read about that experience at https://writingtheinterisland.org.
As a writer, I strive to give voice to the untold stories of ordinary people. I had my first taste of the thrill of helping people tell their stories as a feature writer for my high school newspaper in a small town in southern Illinois. Years later, as a nurse in Indiana and Washington, I listened to patients in hospital rooms, exam rooms, homes, and schools and experienced an uncommon intimacy as they shared their fears, hopes, grief, and pain.
My first book, Hands at Work—Portraits and Profiles of People Who Work with Their Hands, received numerous accolades including a Nautilus Book Gold Award, Independent Publishers Award, and an Indie Next Generation Book Award.
Hands at Work was inspired by a showing of Summer Moon Scriver’s black-and-white photographs of hands. Scriver’s images of strong, weathered, soiled, muscled hands digging potatoes, knitting, kneading dough, and spinning wool suggested a passion for the kinds of work that have become rare for many Americans. Visit https://irisgraville.com/hands-at-work-anniversary-sale/ for news about a special sale of the book.
My second book combines photographs, profiles, and recipes to present an intimate, behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to bring food from earth to table on Lopez Island. Photography by Steve Horn , Summer Moon Scriver, and Robert S. Harrison; recipes created by Chef Kim Bast. Available at Lopez Bookshop.
My memoir, Hiking Naked—A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance, is a personal narrative of what I learned in the remote mountain village of Stehekin, WA about work, community, and leadings of the Spirit (as well as dealing with six feet of snow in the winter, ordering groceries by mail, and living without a telephone). Hiking Naked was named a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Nancy Pearl Contest and received a Nautilus Book Award.
Forthcoming from Homebound Publications
Writer in a Life Vest: Essays from the Salish Sea
Growing up in the Midwest, I never imagined someday living in Washington State on Lopez Island in the Salish Sea’s San Juan Archipelago. Now, after nearly thirty years as an islander, I write in Writer in a Life Vest about the threats to this inland sea’s lattice of beauty, wildness, fragility, and interdependence
I spend a considerable number of hours on the Salish Sea, sometimes in a kayak, but primarily on the Washington State Ferries (WSF), the nation’s largest ferry system. In 2018-19, I served as WSF’s first Writer-in-Residence on the “Interisland” route, traveling among the ferry-served islands in the San Juans—Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and San Juan. That residency supplied me time and space to write.
The thirty-six essays in Writer in a Life Vest explore climate change and endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, and invite readers to ask questions. Most of the essays are in forms sometimes referred to as lyric, hybrid, collage, or braided—providing a structure to explore vulnerable, tender prose. I also includes conversations and correspondence—real and imagined—as well as a list of resources. I chose these techniques as a metaphor for the new thinking I believe is an essential response to the climate crisis we face. I offer these essays as symbols of resilience, inspiration, and hope.
Available for preorder at Homebound Publications.