Spokane‘s literary community and vibrant art scene have been gaining some pretty serious momentum over the past few years. Spokane is a great place to live if you love the outdoors, but it also boasts a vibrant and energetic downtown packed with great restaurants, music venues, and shops. Our motto is “Near Nature, Near Perfect” because within minutes of downtown you can find yourself relaxing by the beautiful Spokane river, hiking along the bluffs, or walking the Centennial Trail. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington and is situated in the Inland Northwest, east of the Cascades, which means that it has a much dryer climate than Seattle; summers in Spokane are not to be missed. The MFA program, located in Spokane’s U District bordering downtown, is close to both the river and the main student residential area of Spokane. The MFA program is a large part of Spokane’s thriving arts community, as we host many literary events like Visiting Writer readings, VoiceOver (a student-run monthly reading series for MFA candidates, faculty, and alumni), and of course the yearly GetLit! festival.
In addition to what the MFA program has to offer, there are many other local events to choose from all year long. We like to think there is something in our beautiful river that creates such a literary buzz, but it could have more to do with the large numbers of alumni who have continued to live in Spokane post MFA. These alums include international best-selling fiction writer Jess Walter. Many of our alums have gone on to start local small presses, literary magazines, arts organizations, and even become both city and state poet laureates. These graduates of our program are just a handful of the people who help make Spokane the literary city we love. Here are a few of our favorite events and organizations around Spokane:
Spark Central, a charitable organization that offers many free community workshops and events such as Taproot Speaker Series, and Girls Rock Lab. Sage Hill Press, an independent publisher run by EWU alums Thom Caraway and Jeff Dodd. Scablands Lit, an independent publisher who also partners with Spark Central to offer community programs and events. This organization is co-founded and run by poet Ellen Welcker and fiction writer Sharma Shields. Independent publisher Gray Dog Press. Community arts organization Terrain, which hosts a large-scale art show and community reading each year. Spokane also has a large poetry slam community.
Spokane has many great neighborhoods to choose from. Many students in the MFA program live in Browne’s Addition, a residential area less than seven blocks from the center of downtown. Students also often choose to live in the South Hill, South Perry, and Peaceful Valley neighborhoods. See our All the Answers page for more information. Public transportation, which is free for students, is very efficient; many students take the free bus to both their downtown classes and to Cheney (home of the main campus of EWU, and where TA’s will teach their classes.)
All in all, Spokane is a great city to live in. The climate is dry and temperate and the rents are affordable. Spokane features all the major amenities of the largest metro areas without all the congestive traffic, crowded plazas, or major crime. The city is home to championship sports teams, a revived city center, highly-rated hospitals, and almost 3,500 acres of parks. Concerts, Broadway shows, plays, First Friday art-walks, night markets, and much more.
With the area’s interest in sustainable, healthful living, access to fresh, local food can be found in many locations, including Main Market on Main Ave., a downtown co-op a short walk from Riverpoint campus. The list of great places to eat and drink would be much too long, so here is a helpful list curated by local outdoor magazine Field and Compass.
Spokane News:Spokesman Review (Spokane’s daily newspaper) inlander.com/spokane/ (News and Information for the Inland NW) downtownspokane.org (The latest in Downtown news, events, and services
Visiting and moving to Spokane:visitspokane.com (Info on how and where to Eat, Stay, Play, Meet, Travel Spokane-style)
http://www.spokanetransit.com (Information on public bus routes and schedules)http://www.mapmyride.com/us/spokane-wa/ (Local biking info, including bike path maps) http://spokanecentennialtrail.org (Centennial Trail info and maps) http://www.spokanelibrary.org (Local library system offering branch-to-branch transfer of books) spokaneparks.org (Spokane Parks and Recreation) mtspokane.com (Skiing at nearby Mount Spokane) spokanehoopfest.net/Pages/default.aspx (Spokane’s annual Hoopfest) inbpac.com (INB Performing Arts Center, formerly Spokane Opera House) spokanearena.com/index.php (Arena sports and concerts in Spokane) downtownspokane.org/first-friday.php (First Friday – Spokane’s monthly art walk) entertainmentspokane.com (Weekly updates of upcoming Spokane entertainment) spokanewineries.net (Spokane Winery Association) inlander.com/spokane/spokane-brewery-guide/ (Inlander on Spokane Breweries)