Lit Fest is on the way

by Matthew Gilbert

Special to the Sounder

While the upcoming Orcas Island Lit Fest will be presenting award-winning writers and artists from across the country, the focus of the event has always been to engage directly with the local community.

It starts June 3 on Friday afternoon, when celebrated young adult authors Mary Cronk Farrell, Jen Longo, Diana Ma and Kelly McWilliams bring their stories and insights to students and faculty at Orcas Island High School. The OILF Kids’ Fest, a free family event, begins on Saturday morning at the Orcas Public Library with readings by renowned children’s and YA authors.

On Friday evening, the festival’s wildly popular Lit Walk will be open to all starting at 5 p.m. at the Orcas Public Library with readings by Orcas youth writers. The action then swings downtown, where more than two dozen writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction will give literature lovers a taste of their work with short readings at one of six venues: Tide Pool

Coffeehouse, Darvill’s Bookstore, The Barnacle, Roots, Matia, and Doe Bay Wine Company

For a special treat, Saturday afternoon features a staged reading of acclaimed playwright Octavio Solis’s memoir Retablos, filled with tales of his life on the U.S.–Mexico border. The reading will be directed by Orcas local Bruce Langford. Retablos was a BuzzFeed “Best Books of Fall 2018” selection and described by Publishers Weekly as full of “brilliantly told stories of missteps and redemption.” In the evening, the festival’s Words Onstage event will combine

readings by this year’s headlining authors with performances by resident singer-songwriters for an unforgettable celebration of literature and music.

And throughout the festival, attendees will have the chance to enjoy work by a diverse group of talented local authors, poets, and musicians, including Jill McCabe Johnson, Iris Graville, Thor Hanson, Abigail Morgan Prout, Baird Nuckolls, Kíque Lopez and Mandy Troxel.

For festival tickets and more information, visit the OILF website at