A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

WITS Voices: What did you do on your summer vacation?

As summer nears to a close, we asked our Writers in the Schools teaching artists to tell us what they did on their summer vacation: what they read, wrote, researched, ate, worked on, and, of course, what fun they had. Read on for a glimpse into 8 local writers’ summers.

Late summer blackberry pie count = three, and two dozen jars of apricot jam (summer in a jar) from our own trees! And I read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, and sent out book-length poetry manuscripts (fingers crossed).

–Laura Gamache


This summer I was lucky enough to get to teach in Rome, Italy with Rebecca Hoogs and Johnny Horton through University of Washington’s Creative Writing in Rome program. During a mid-program break, I visited Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden (and got to chat about it with the editor of the Tarot Poetry Anthology, Marjorie Jensen). My reading from the summer has been all over the place, including: Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City, Jan Rothuizen’s The Soft Atlas of Amsterdam (with thanks to fellow teaching artist Greg Stump for introducing me to it), and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon x 100 (which I was excited to learn shares an aesthetic rhizome with Gertrude Stein – no wonder I like both so much!).

–Sierra Nelson


  • Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquhar
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin (which I was inspired to read after watching the brilliant ESPN documentary J.: Made in America)
  • The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco by Julie Salamon and Brian De Palma: Interviews (both reads inspired by watching the documentary De Palma)
  • Cometbus #57 by Aaron Cometbus (the latest issue of the greatest zine of all time)
  • The Complete Wimmen’s Comix Vol. 1 (published by Fantagraphics)
  • Art Chantry Speaks by Art Chantry

–Greg Stump


This summer, I…

  • Marched my teenage daughters, spouse, and dog through the Cispus Basin on the PCT, singing “The Sound of Music” soundtrack through my mosquito netting helmet until I saw a mountain lion.
  • Picked and ate these berries: strawberries, raspberries, salmonberries, blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, salal berries. I did not eat a marionberry because they are a sham, hyped-up and misleading.
  • Obsessively researched the history of Yesler Way, reading and re-reading Coll Thrush’s Native Seattle.

-Rachel Kessler


Our daughter, Caden, started crawling in late June, which had an impact on my reading and writing schedule. Yet, in addition to reading Where The Sidewalk Ends and Goodnight, Moon several dozen times I was still able to reread The Moviegoer by Walker Percy and ABC of Reading by Ezra Pound. Additionally, I had several stories published respectively in: the East Bay Review, Section 8, and Five 2 One. I also had a craft essay published in Antithesis. All of this I somehow fit in around teaching screenwriting for the Summer Extension program at Cornish College of the Arts, and traveling out to Montana to spend a few days in an old fire tower.

–K. Michael Overa


This summer, we did a lot of hiking in the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens. I taught the month of July at Coyote Central; re-read and dissected a number of plays like Betrayal, Cloud Nine, and ‘Night Mother; and napped in our hammock, always with a bowl of fresh strawberries in my lap.

–Ann Teplick


Out of alphabetical order, chronological order and order of importance: paddle-boarding, family reunion, Camp WITS, Mineral School residency, fire pit, book-into-play adapting, manuscript, East Coast trips, pray for summer to stay.

–Daemond Arrindell


Summer seems to get shorter as I get older! I spent some of the summer teaching writing workshops to the brilliant girls of Young Women Empowerment (Y-WE) as a Hedgebrook Alum, was a guest at Scribes camps and Camp WITS, and finally finished a manuscript that had me stumped. As a lovely background to this, I mothered my favorite kids, took a trip to NYC, read a few books and wrote everyday.

—Anastacia Tolbert

Posted in Writers in the Schools