Last week I got the opportunity to travel up into northern Idaho to represent the Commission on the Arts as Idaho’s Writer in Residence. I headed north out of Boise for Lewiston the first night, then further north to the old logging town of Saint Maries where I collaborated with several great and enthusiastic local fiction writers, poets, and essayists to put on a reading of original work at a little bistro on Main Street. That same afternoon at the Saint Maries public library we ran a workshop on the art and craft of telling great stories as fiction writers and personal essayists. It was a fun and welcoming group who turned out.

From there it was off to the beautiful little town of Harrison on the shore of Lake Coeur d’ Alene. Several of the same local writers and I read some more original work at a cool cafe/bike shop, The Cycle Haus, in Harrison’s picturesque downtown. We got a great crowd and got to share some fine words and food and drink.

The next day I looped south for Grangeville, Cottonwood, and the Monastery of Saint Gertrude’s to mingle with the sisters, some folks celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and a handful of local writers. I got an opportunity to talk about the place of memory and nostalgia in storytelling, and how fundamentally human great stories are. I was able to read some new original work and engage the enthusiastic audience with a writing prompt, and a chance to share some of their own work.

To top things off it just happened to be my birthday the night of my Saint Gertrude’s reading, and the sisters baked me a cake, and sung happy birthday to close out the night. It was pretty darned sweet of them. The next morning it was back to Boise to recap with Jocelyn at the Commission. It was a real privilege to be given the chance to engage with all these Idaho communities, drive nearly 1,000 miles through our state’s amazingly diverse and beautiful landscapes, and to bring the literary arts to some new friends up north. Can’t wait to get back up that way again soon.

‒ Christian Winn, Idaho Writer in Residence