Growing up in the Midwest, Iris Graville 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, she writes in Writer in a Life Vest about the threats to this inland sea’s lattice of beauty, wildness, fragility, and interdependence.
Iris spends 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, she 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 Iris time and space to write.
This storytelling lover of the Salish Sea offers Writer in a Life Vest, thirty-six essays that 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. Iris also includes conversations and correspondence—real and imagined—as well as a list of resources. She chose these techniques as a metaphor for the new thinking she believes is an essential response to the climate crisis we face. She offers these essays as symbols of resilience, inspiration, and hope.
Available for pre-order at the Homebound online store.