Tom Robbins, Sherman Alexie team for Skagit River Poetry Festival on May 15

The 2014 Skagit River Poetry Festival, a four-day literary adventure in La Conner, begins May 15 with the meeting of two of the Northwest’s most daring and original writers, Tom Robbins and Sherman Alexie, who plan to swap literary wit and wisdom in an onstage interview.

If you’ve never seen these gentlemen live, consider this a rare opportunity to treat yourself. And beware that the evening is sure to induce a lot of belly laughs. The irreverent Robbins, named by Writer’s Digest as one of the “Top 100 Writers of the 20th Century,” and poet and novelist Alexie, a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, are sure to entertain.

Then, May 16 through 18, festival organizers will present some of the most provocative voices in contemporary poetry reading their works in various venues through the channel-side town. More than 2,000 people attend the biennial event, considered one of the best on the West Coast.

The lineup includes former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, National Book Award winner Mark Doty, Native American artist and author Elizabeth Woody, Wallace Stegner Fellow Michael McGriff, PEN USA Poetry Award winner Susan Rich and Jamaican-born poet, actor, editor, critic and musician Kwame Dawes.

Top Northwest artists on the bill include award-winning Seattle slam poet Matt Gano; Kelly Davio, praised for her dark poetic intensity; celebrated nature writer Tim McNulty; and Emily Warn, the Webby Award–winning founding editor of poetryfoundation.org.

From Vancouver, B.C., come the city’s up-from-the-streets Poet Laureate Evelyn Lau and Rachel Rose, winner of the 2013 Pat Lowther Memorial Award for poetry.

Newly announced Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen is also in the line-up of performances, interviews and panel discussions. All poets will read in a special “Gathering of the Poets” on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday is dedicated to more than a dozen three-hour writing workshops to help people reinvigorate their own writing and prepare poems for publication.

For times, schedules, prices, and details, go to the festival website www.skagitriverpoetry.org, or write to skagitpoetry@gmail.com. Ticket sales are through Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/520248.

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