PRESS RELEASE: Seattle writers to participate in New Zealand literary festival

(Seattle—June 23, 2016) Seattle City of Literature is pleased to announce that local writer Elissa Washuta will present a workshop and participate in a panel featuring indigenous writers at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition to Washuta’s participation in the festival, Seattle poets Maged Zaher, Claudia Castro Luna, John Olson and Angel Gardner will have their work featured in the New Zealand literary arts journal Catalyst in connection with the festival.

Washuta, a Seattle-based memoirist and essayist, will run a non-fiction workshop for Māori writers in conjunction with Christchurch’s Ngāi Tahu tribe, and participate in a ‘Sister Cities/First Nations’ panel with a Māori writer from Christchurch, Nic Low, and an Aboriginal writer from Adelaide, Ali Cobby Eckermann.

“I am thrilled and honored to share my work in the home of the Māori people,” Washuta said. “Participating in an Indigenous writers exchange in New Zealand has been one of my dreams for years, and WORD gives me the opportunity to do this. I look forward to being in the company of such a brilliant group of writers.”

WORD Christchurch presents a variety of literary events, including a biennial Writers & Readers Festival – the largest literary event in New Zealand’s South Island. The events bring writers, thinkers and performers together to celebrate the written word and provide a window for readers to respond to ideas.

“Elissa is a masterful writer and we’re delighted that she’ll represent Seattle’s literary community in Christchurch, one of our sister cities,” said Stesha Brandon, Interim Executive Director of Seattle City of Literature. “We’re hopeful that this will be the first in an ongoing cultural exchange.”

Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and BuzzFeed.

She holds a Master’s in Fine Arts from The University of Washington and serves as undergraduate adviser for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and is a nonfiction faculty member in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a faculty advisor for Mud City Journal and Saturday editor for The Rumpus.

Washuta’s visit is supported by the Christchurch City Council Sister City Programme, which is supporting the attendance of an indigenous writer from both Seattle and Adelaide, two of its Sister Cities.

For more information about WORD Christchurch, visit: For more information on Elissa Washuta, visit: