Washington Island Literary Festival 2022: CROSSROADS
September 15, 16, and 17
Celebrating our 10th year of bringing together readers and writers!
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

In what ways do we find ourselves at crossroads? What are the crossroads in our culture and in our country? Do crossroads divide or unite?

Our cast of award-winning and acclaimed writers will address these questions and more over the three days of the Festival. Participants are invited to take part in all three days or may choose to attend just one or two days.

We are proud to have the following writers join us for this year's Festival:

Cara Black, fiction, author of Murder at the Porte de Versailles

Andrew Graff, fiction, author of Raft of Stars

Marie Mutsuki Mockett, nonfiction, author of American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland

Michael Torres, poet, author of An Incomplete List of Names

Toya Wolfe, fiction, author of Last Summer on State Street

Thursday, September 15: FREE Community Creative Lab

Friday, September 16: For Writers: Writing Workshops 

Saturday, September 17: For Readers & Writers: Author Talks 

Thursday September 15

Thursday's Creative Lab is free; no registration required.

Noon - 1 pm: Lunch bring your own

1 - 3 pm: Creative lab facilitated by Paula Carter and Elizabeth Evans Sachs

Trueblood Performing Arts Center: outside weather permitting

Friday September 16

Friday's workshops are $75 each. To register, please scroll down to the workshop descriptions and click the registration button for the workshops you would like to take.

 

8:30 am - 3:00 pm: Registration/Pick Up Your Festival Packet

10:00 am - noon: Workshops with Cara Black or Toya Wolfe various locations

1:30 - 3:30 pm: Workshops with Andrew Graff, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, or Michael Torres various locations

4:30 - 6 pm: Welcome Reception at the Farm Museum

Saturday September 17

Saturday's program for readers and writers is $135 through July 6. After July 6, cost is $150. To register for Saturday's program, please click the button below.

8 - 8:45 am: Registration/Coffee & Light Refreshments

8:45 - 9 am: Welcome and Introductions

9 - 10:15 am: Panel Discussion with all five authors

10:30 - 11:15 am: Andrew Graff

11:15 - 11:45 am: Book signing with Andrew Graff

11:15 am - 12:45 pm: Lunch on your own

1 - 1:45 pm: Marie Mutsuki Mockett

1:45 - 2:30 pm: Toya Wolfe

2:30 - 3 pm: Book signing with Marie Mutsuki Mockett and Toya Wolfe

3 - 3:45 pm: Michael Torres

4 - 4:45 pm: Cara Black

4:45 - 5:15 pm: Book signing with Michael Torres and Cara Black

All presentations will be held at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center, outside on the terrace weather permitting.

Stay tuned for information on evening social events as well as an update on a late ferry back to Northport.

Are You an Islander??

We are pleased to present a special rate of $90 to year-round Washington Island residents. Your residency status will need to be verified. To register as a full-time Island resident, please click the button below.

2022 Workshop Descriptions

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 10 am - noon

Villains/Villainesses - The Architects of Noir or the Characters We Love to Hate with Cara Black

Let’s talk about creating compelling Villain/esses we love to hate, who touch us and stay in our psyche. Villains have many names: adversary, antagonist, villain, bully, menace, evil genius, and so on. As a reader I love books that have a character who plays the worthy adversary to the protagonist. If that adversary has redeeming qualities or reasons for going bad that I can identify with, the enjoyment I get from the book increases and pulls me in.  Join me in how to craft multi-dimensional villains who are the architects of your story.

To register for this workshop, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457.

Your Story, Your Voice with Toya Wolfe

What’s the story you’ve always wanted to tell? Where does it take place? Which voice would you use to tell it? In this workshop, you will test out your unique writer's voice and style. We will glance at a few writers who use the distinct voices of their small towns, boroughs, and reservations to tell stories.

To register for this workshop, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457.

 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1:30 - 3:30 pm

Three Universals of Storytelling with Andrew J. Graff

Inspired by an essay called "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" by Flannery O'Connor, this workshop provides an opportunity to discuss and practice Graff's own take on three critical qualities of narrative writing, lending clarity and momentum to your own manuscript or story ideas.  Workshop applicable to both fiction and creative nonfiction writing.

To register for this workshop, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457.

 Nature Writing and Voice with Marie Mutsuki Mockett

We will examine the interplay between writing about nature and the voice and tone that we use to describe nature. How do these three things intersect to make nature visible to the reader? And does the voice we use have a role in creating how nature is perceived? We live in a time when even those in the most urban settings cannot help but feel impacted by climate change, and global disease. Is there some way in which we must reconceive of nature, and thus the voice and tone we use to describe nature? This two hour craft class will challenge us to think about how we see nature--and how we write about it.

To register for this workshop, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457.

Working Through Cliché with Michael Torres

I believe we’re facing crossroads all the time—literal, emotional, existential—and more often than not, we find great difficulty in expressing what it feels like when we’re at these junctures of our lives. At first, it might be easier to lean on cliché—those broad, catch-all phrases—but they can never, genuinely, capture what it is we’re going through. In this generative workshop, we’ll turn cliché in our favor and discuss how we can use it as an entryway into a truer, more complicated space for language and emotion. We’ll also take a look at ideas from writers George Saunders, Morgan Parker, Matthew Zapruder, and more, to help us understand the importance of moving beyond the cliché and our initial writing impulses. I’ll provide writing prompts and poems as prompts so that by the end of our time together you’ll have the beginning drafts of several different poems.

To register for this workshop, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457.

2022 Presenting Authors

Cara Black is the author of twenty books in the New York Times bestselling Aimée LeDuc series, including the latest Murder at the Porte de Versailles. She has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards and her books have been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew. She lives in San Francisco and frequently visits Paris.

Andrew J. Graff is the author of the novel Raft of Stars, published by Ecco-HarperCollins. His fiction and essays have appeared in ImageLitHub, and Dappled Things. Andrew grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin's Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Graff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Ohio and is a visiting professor at Wittenberg University.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born to an American father and Japanese mother. American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf Press) won the 2021 Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction and is a tribute to the complicated and nuanced history of the United States and its people. Her memoir, Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award. She lives in San Francisco and teaches fiction and nonfiction at the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Michael Torres was born and brought up in Pomona, California, where he spent his adolescence as a graffiti artist. His debut collection of poems, An Incomplete List of Names (Beacon Press, 2020), was selected by Raquel Salas Rivera for the National Poetry Series and named one of NPR's Best Books of 2020. His honors include awards and support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, CantoMundo, VONA Voices, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the Camargo Foundation, and the Loft Literary Center. He is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a teaching artist with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.

Toya Wolfe grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago's South Side. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Her writing has appeared in African VoicesChicago JournalChicago ReaderHairtrigger 27, and Warpland: A Journal of Black Ideas. She is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflett/John Schultz Short Story Award. Last Summer on State Street is her debut novel.

 

2022 Books

Click on the book jacket photo to order it online from Fair Isle Books

Cara Black, Murder at the Porte de Versailles

November 2001: in the wake of 9/11, Paris is living in a state of fear. For Aimée Leduc, November is bittersweet: the anniversary of her father's death and her daughter's third birthday fall on the same day. A gathering for family and friends is disrupted when a bomb goes off at the police laboratory--and Boris Viard, the partner of Aimée's friend Michou, is found unconscious at the scene of the crime with traces of explosives under his fingernails. As Aimée scours the streets of the 15th arrondissement trying to learn the truth, she has to ask herself if she should succumb to pressure from Chloe's biological father and move them out to his farm in Brittany. But could Aimée Leduc ever leave Paris?

 

Andrew J. Graff,  Raft of Stars 

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

 

Marie Mutsuki Mockett, American Harvest

For over one hundred years, the Mockett family has owned a seven-thousand-acre wheat farm in the panhandle of Nebraska, where Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s father was raised. Mockett, who grew up in bohemian Carmel, California, with her father and her Japanese mother, knew little about farming when she inherited this land. Her father had all but forsworn it.

In American Harvest, Mockett accompanies a group of evangelical Christian wheat harvesters through the heartland at the invitation of Eric Wolgemuth, the conservative farmer who has cut her family’s fields for decades. As Mockett follows Wolgemuth’s crew on the trail of ripening wheat from Texas to Idaho, they contemplate what Wolgemuth refers to as “the divide,” inadvertently peeling back layers of the American story to expose its contradictions and unhealed wounds. She joins the crew in the fields, attends church, and struggles to adapt to the rhythms of rural life, all the while continually reminded of her own status as a person who signals “not white,” but who people she encounters can’t quite categorize.

 

Michael Torres, An Incomplete List of Names

An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.

Who do we belong to? This is the question Michael Torres ponders as he explores the roles that names, hometown, language, and others’ perceptions each play on our understanding of ourselves in An Incomplete List of Names. More than a boyhood ballad or a coming-of-age story, this collection illuminates the artist’s struggle to make sense of the disparate identities others have forced upon him.

His description of his childhood is both idyllic and nightmarish, sometimes veering between the two extremes, sometimes a surreal combination of both at once. He calls himself “the Pachuco’s grandson” or REMEK or Michael, depending on the context, and others follow his lead. He worries about losing his identification card, lest someone mistake his brown skin for evidence of a crime he never committed. He wonders what his students—imprisoned men who remind him of his high school friends and his own brother—make of him. He wonders how often his neighbors think about where he came from, if they ever do imagine where he came from.

When Torres returns to his hometown to find the layers of spray-painted evidence he and his boyhood friends left behind to prove their existence have been washed away by well-meaning municipal workers, he wonders how to collect a list of names that could match the eloquent truths those bubbled letters once secured.

Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street

Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens is living with her vigilantly loving mother and older teenaged brother, whom she adores, in building 4950 of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes. It’s the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She, with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, form a tentative trio and, for a brief moment, carve out for themselves a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend, Tonya, into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls.

As their beloved neighborhood falls down around them, so too do their friendships and the structures of the four girls’ families. Fe Fe must make the painful decision of whom she can trust and whom she must let go. Decades later, as she remembers that fateful summer—just before her home was demolished, her life uprooted, and community forever changed—Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.

Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home — both in one’s history and in one’s self.

 

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON ISLAND LITERARY FESTIVAL

The Washington Island Literary Festival is a moveable feast of writing, reading, discussion, and thought about the written word. Writers’ workshops, author panels and presentations, readings and parties are scheduled at various quaint, historic and beautiful venues around the Island.

Participants have a unique opportunity to share time with prominent authors and dedicated readers in the intimate, friendly setting of Washington Island, a half-hour by ferry from the Door County mainland, in September’s color and warmth.

If you aren't an Island resident, we recommend you secure your housing soon! Visit Destination Door County for a listing of accommodations. (Narrow your search to Washington Island.)

In Partnership With

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Connect and Celebrate with Literature:
What Past Participants Love

An intimate engagement with world-renowned writers.  – Paula Carter

Intelligent and challenging workshops in an absolutely gorgeous setting.  –Sandra Lindow

Washington Island is a perfect place to read and write and therefore a perfect place to immerse one’s self in the spoken and written word. - Libby Sachs

The venues chosen for all the events were just perfect. The barn was magical with its lights and chickens and beautifully laid tables. The banquet was wonderful, the food extraordinary.  I appreciated being able to give my workshop on the veranda of such a lovely hotel!  The auditorium was perfect for the panel and readings. It was lit so well and the sound systems were flawless.  Believe me, as planning chair I appreciate these things.  - Marion Boyer