Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fifth Annual Literary Festival

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The bookmark for September's Literary Festival (shown here) features a painting by David Friedrich, "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog."

The theme for this year's festival, now in its fifth year, is "Exploring Frontiers, Real and Imagined."

The authors and poets who will be featured in presentations will use this theme as a stepping off point for discussion and selected readings.  There are few ways in which we can be so easily, quickly and thoroughly transported than through the written word.  Readers will find this year's experience will further stimulate their appetite for reading, for learning, and finding something new and surprising within a book's covers.

The reverse side of the bookmark features names of the main authors and their featured book.   Wisconsin's Poet Laureate, Kimberly Huston, and Door County's Poet Laureate, Sharon Auberly (their books are not shown). They'll read and talk about their poetry Saturday evening following dinner.

One challenge faced by the committee each year is to provide a meaningful program, improve on the previous years' experiences, and yet not overly complicate the weekend of events.  Logistically, there are challenges, but the outline for 2017 looks like attendees will enjoy an excellent program.  The many tasks and details are addressed through the input of a diverse, talented committee headed by Helene Meyer, whose ideas and inspiration led her to launch the first Island Literary Festival.  Helene, along with many others, strives to keep the festival program interesting, vital and worthy, in what she has often described as an "intimate gathering of readers and writers."

I'm not one to read each listed book of the featured authors, but I've recently ordered "Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan, based on a strong, positive review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, titled, "Nor Any Drop to Drink?: Why the Great Lakes Face a Murky Future."   Egan works as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and his work on Lake Michigan water topics has often been featured in the pages of that newspaper.  Egan has family connections in Egg Harbor.

Having observed Lake Michigan's water qualities as a sailor and ferryman, and knowing something of the problems that denigrate the qualities of this lake, I will be especially interested to read his book and to learn more about what is happening to the Great Lakes as a whole, both the good and the bad.  As an example, it wasn't many years ago that commercial fishing was a major economic factor in Northern Door County.  That's completely changed, and in a rather short time.  Forty years ago, there were between 40 and 80 boxes of fish, almost daily.  Now its rare to see any fish being shipped to commercial markets.  Why is that?  

Egan once interviewed me at the Ferry Office, and I believe his questions then dealt with piers, man-made structures built on the public lake bed, and how these structures might change water flow and quality.   In providing a ferry service, we need to connect floating vessels to solid land at several points, and piers are essential to the transport of people and vehicles, along with break walls that further protect the pier.  These structures are robust and substantial in dimension and mass in order to withstand heavy seas and moving ice.  I was a bit defensive then to Egan's questioning.  But, I'm interested now in learning if he promotes a viewpoint on limiting waterfront construction, or if I've changed my own point of view on that same topic.

In any case, as an island community we should be open to learning about Great Lakes water quality, even when we don't always agree with proposed solutions.

Festival registration for 2017 is $125 ($112.50 if you register prior to August 1st).  There will also be workshops, held on Friday, Sept. 21,  poetry and writing workshops by featured writers.  Workshop fee is $75, but then $65 for each additional workshop selected.

In order to register, checks can be made out to:  TPAC/Washington Island Literary Festival, PO Box 136, Washington Island, WI 54246.  Or, if you're on the Island, drop by the Fair Isle Book Store and you can register with Deb Wayman, located next to the Island Post Office and Red Cup.
-  Dick Purinton