Iris Graville with David B. Williams — Writer in a Life Vest: Essays from the Salish Sea

"Equal parts wonder and urgency, Writer in a Life Vest is nature writing at its best." —Ana Maria Spagna


Third Place Books welcomes the return of Iris Graville—Washington State Ferries’ first Writer-in-Residence and author of Hiking Naked—to our store at Lake Forest Park. Graville will be discussing her most recent book, Writer in a Life Vest: Essays from the Salish Sea, a collection of essays that sails between Orca whales, climate change, the WSF system, and turn a discerning eye upon the fragility of the very sea around us.

Joining Iris Graville in conversation is Seattle historian David B. Williams, author of Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound and the popular guidebook Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.

Copies of Writer in a Life Vest will be available for purchase at the store. This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!

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About Writer in a Life Vest. . .

In 2018-19, Iris Graville served as Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) first Writer-in-Residence. Sailing in the Salish Sea’s San Juan Archipelago, she wrote about how climate change threatens its interwoven lattice of beauty, wildness, fragility, and relationship. Writer in a Life Vest leads readers to ask questions and find hope.

After nearly thirty years living in the Salish Sea’s San Juan Archipelago, Iris Graville felt compelled to write about the threats to its interwoven lattice of beauty, wildness, fragility, and relationship. In 2018-19, Graville served as the Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) first Writer-in-Residence on the “Interisland” route, traveling only among Lopez, Shaw, San Juan, and Orcas islands. As a result, this storytelling lover of the Salish Sea presents Writer in a Life Vest, thirty-six essays that explore climate change and endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, while leading readers to ask questions and find resilience, inspiration, and hope.


Praise for Writer in a Life Vest. . .

"In Writer in a Life Vest, Iris Graville pulls out all the stops to immerse us in the magnificent Salish Sea—and the crises of our time—with creativity, integrity, and grace. She jams with ukuleles, imagines conversations with Rachel Carson, writes vows of commitment, admires orcas and grieves them, and ultimately insists on hope. Equal parts wonder and urgency, Writer in a Life Vest is nature writing at its best." 
—Ana Maria Spagna, author of Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going

"Where does the energy in nature writing lie? In experimental form and technique, in new stories well told, in honest accounts of what it is to be a conscious and conscientious dweller on beautiful planet Earth. This book. Whether it be a postcard from orcas, an imagined conversation with Greta Thunberg, or nine ways to write from a ferry, Graville will capture your imagination and your beating heart. Along with other compelling voices today, she is asking us to see the world anew, thus seeing solutions and hope anew. I love this book!" 
—Laura Pritchett, author of The Blue Hour

"The Salish Sea comes alive in this inspired collection of essays written by Iris Graville, who takes us on her journey through the San Juan Islands. Creatively woven together, we learn from these essays about the petition for a name change for the Salish Sea, and we discover the plight and the profound beauty of the Southern Resident Orcas. Most importantly, through Graville’s poetry and narrative rhythm, we hear the alarm bell for each of us to take immediate action in today’s climate crisis."
—Kip Robinson Greenthal, author of Shoal Water

Iris Graville writes essays, memoir, and profiles and has been published in national and regional journals. She’s also the publisher of SHARK REEF Literary Magazine. Iris’s third book, the memoir Hiking Naked (2017), received a Nautilus Book Award. In 2018, Iris was the first Writer-in-Residence for the Washington State Ferries. That residency helped fuel her latest book, Writer in a Life Vest: Essays from the Salish Sea. A retired nurse and environmental activist, Iris lives with her husband on traditional Coast Salish lands, now called Lopez Island, Washington.

David B. Williams is an author, naturalist, educator and an archaeology curatorial associate at the Burke Museum. His many books include the award-winning Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal, and Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology. David’s latest book is Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound. He lives and works in Seattle on the unceded lands of the dxʷdəwʔabš (Duwamish) and Coast Salish peoples. (Photo credit: Andrew Croneberger)

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