Third annual Orcas Island Writers Festival

The Third Annual Orcas Island Writers Festival will take place from September 17-19. This year’s festival welcomes three distinguished instructors, David Jauss, Sue William Silverman, and Nance Van Winckel, to inspire and teach writers of all levels.

Van Winckel will return with her popular Jumpstart! classes. The focus will be on mixed-genre forms including prose poems, flash fiction (very short stories) and off-the-page visual/verbal art. These are great classes to attend to explore new ideas for writing.

Jumpstart! classes are unique because there will be a different focus each day, and participants can register for one, two, or three days. The fee of $75 a day (preregistered) includes all the other festival events offered that day, except for the critique workshops in fiction and nonfiction.

Ross McMeekin, a festival participant in 2009, reported, "Nance brought a perfect mix of sharp intellect and heartfelt kindness to our class, and created an atmosphere that encouraged vulnerability and a willingness to explore and take risks.” Orcas resident Ed Wilson said this about Van Winckel’s classes: “That one weekend literally jump-started my life of poetry writing, after years of attempts on my own. Also, along with others I met in Nance's classes, I've become actively involved with the excellent poetry writing community here on Orcas Island. I can't wait to take her new classes this September.”

Nance Van Winckel is the author of five books of poetry including her most recent publication, No Starling. The Washington State Governor’s Award for Poetry, for After A Spell, is just one of many awards and prizes her work has received. Van Winckel has also published three books of short stories, and her writing has appeared in many literary journals. She has taught in the MFA in Writing Program at Eastern Washington University since 1990, and in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program since 1999.  

According to Iris Graville, a Lopez Island author, “Whether you're a seasoned writer or just getting started, the Orcas Island Writers Festival is a great opportunity to recharge your creative batteries.” Graville will also be hosting a local success panel at the festival, which showcases regional writers. A faculty panel and an evening faculty reading will also be part of the events this year.

The fiction and nonfiction workshops are almost full, but lectures by these talented instructors are open to all festival participants. Critically acclaimed short-story writer (and poet) David Jauss will present the lecture, “Go in Fear of Abstractions: Conveying Emotion in Writing,” and memoirist Sue William Silverman will lecture on “Savory Metaphors.” Nance Van Winckel’s lecture is on “Writing Off the Page.”

Signing up for the Jumpstart! classes (or a workshop, if space remains) can be done by going to the festival’s website at, by contacting festival director, Barbara Lewis at 317-4383, or by emailing

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