A Literary Walk around Washington Island

A Writers’ Walk, honoring some of the Midwest’s finest authors who have appeared at the Washington Island Literary Festival, will be inaugurated at 11 am on Sept. 14 as part of this year’s Washington Island Literary Festival.

The Writers’ Walk will feature quotes from Midwest authors engraved on brass plaques that will be placed on stones, sidewalks, walls and pillars at various landmarks throughout the island during the next year.   When completed, the walk will feature a quote from an author who appeared at each of the literary festivals since it began in 2011 with a new plaque added in successive years.

“We wanted the literary tradition on the island, recognized by the Washington Island Literary Festival, to be visible throughout the year for residents and visitors,” said Elizabeth Sachs, chairwoman of the 2018 festival. “All of the quotes from authors will be designed to give readers some insight into the various literary themes explored at the festivals.”

The first plaque features a quote from the book Words on Water

by well-known island author Richard Purinton. It will be installed outside the Washington Island Ferry office at a ceremony in conjunction with this year’s literary festival on Sept. 13-16. In the next few months, plaques are also planned for the Trueblood Performing Arts Center, Art and Nature Center, Fair Isle books and other island locations.

“The island provides the perfect geography for a walk of this type,” said Sachs. “Participants will be able to walk, bike or drive to each of the plaques or use some of the other transportation for rent on the island.”

Beginning next summer, a brochure will provide a map to each of the plaques and offer more background on each author and their work.   

“The brochure and accompanying plaques will remind readers of the rich literary tradition in the Midwest where the landscape, history and people have inspired so many excellent writers and poets,” said Sachs.

The 2018 festival’s theme is “Words on Water.” It features lead authors Jeff Goodell, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine and author of the the nonfiction book, The Water Will Come and Bonnie Jo Campbell, winner of the Eudora Welty Prize and author of the novel Once Upon A River. Additional authors include Kirk Landers, Jean Pendziwol, Marion Boyer, Douglas Wood, Richard Purinton and Lane Hall.  

The festival will include workshops on Thursday, Sept. 13 and Friday, Sept. 14 with author presentations on Saturday, Sept. 15 followed by a dinner at the Island Dairy. A Sunday brunch at the Washington Hotel is optional. For more information, go to and


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