There is nothing like fine writing to transport you to another place and time, to feed your mind and nourish your soul. Just as the environment and community drive the development of a rich music, performance, and visual arts culture in Edmonds, there is a wellspring of talent and drive behind the literary arts here, as well.
The love of writing begins deep within the community’s fabric. This is a town that supports two independent bookstores, a writing workshop, multiple writing classes for adults and children, Spoken Word and poetry readings, and so much more.
There’s no doubt that a community that is alive with art is a community that is healthy, growing, and bursting with new ideas, energy, and building bonds between people. Art has that power, and Edmonds is teeming with it.
Let’s take our literary tour at its foundation: learning about writing. The City’s Parks and Recreation department teaches classes that include “Write About Your Life” and a “Storywheel Writing Lab” for adults. “Creative Writing for Kids,” "Making Magic Online Writing,” and “Reading Funny Stories” create magic in young minds, with wizards and monsters invented in their own words. At the library near the heart of downtown, there is story time for kids and book clubs — all online during pandemic restrictions.
Then the big workshop arrives: Write on the Sound. It’s thought-provoking, intimate, and focused tightly on the craft of writing and publishing. An event created by the City of Edmonds Arts Commission, presenters and writers arrive from all over the United States and Canada. Held in the 1920s-era school building that houses the Frances Anderson Center, the event is always the first full weekend in October. In 2020, the event was held virtually and touted by the New York Times, drawing the largest attendance ever.
And what is writing if it’s not able to transport us to new worlds, elevate our thinking to higher ideals, and help us process the complexities of our lives, hardships, and joys?
The Edmonds Center for the Arts took the opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent so many of us into economic and mental health crises, to blend writing with performance as a means of navigating the uncharted waters of our times. WE SPEAK Festival was the first of what is expected to be an annual event, held virtually.
The evening-length celebration of Spoken Word poetry and storytelling included acclaimed artists Jericho Brown, Andrea Gibson, Kealoha, Shane Koyczan, and Robin Sanders, as well as talented local youth juried in to participate. They tackled pressing and difficult topics, such as the pandemic, racial justice, and experiences of LGBTQ+ and indigenous communities, and people with disabilities.
All the ways Edmonds presents to learn and grow as a writer are matched by the ways to experience the final work. Independent bookstores were at first crushed nearly out of existence with the rise of big box stores, Amazon, and then, Kindle. But people don’t just want something cheap to read — they want the higher and more personal experience of connecting with books. The art of it goes straight to the heart of us, and now, the independents are on the rise again.
The Edmonds community may see a lot of Amazon trucks go through the neighborhoods, but they also see a lot of foot traffic in their local bookstores.
Edmonds Bookshop is in the heart of downtown and is jam-packed with every genre you can think of. They've been in business for nearly 50 years, testimony to the community's love of all things books. The Neverending Bookshop in the Perrinville District is a passion project of Annie Carl. Here, she builds a community of readers and friends, and cultivates relationships with indie authors. Her shelves of books delve deep into the genres of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, and young adult and children, and the comfy chairs provide a gathering place for a community deeply passionate about those topics.
So start clacking on that keyboard, putting pen to paper, and pulling up a chair in a bookshop. The written word is a powerful weapon to be used for good. Edmonds is waiting for you.