Readers at this fun, laid-back reading series in the heart of Beacon Hill include Seattle poets Aaron Counts and Matt Gano, as well as Leija Farr, the city’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate. At just 17, Farr’s a scary-good poet; she’s already won no less a vocal fan than Sherman Alexie. The Station Coffee Shop, 2533 16th Ave S, 453-4892, beacon-arts.org. Free. All ages. 7 pm
Susan Orlean is either best known as the author of The Orchid Thief or for being played by Meryl Streep in the movie Adaptation. But she’s not just some celebrity: Orlean is one of the top reporters in the goddamned country, and an opportunity to hear her talk about her craft is a privilege. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, hugohouse.org. $5-10 adv. 21 All ages. 7 pm
Sometimes you’ve just gotta take a chance on a premise. I haven’t read Seattle author Carol Poole’s memoir, Grits, Green Beans and the Holy Ghost: Memoirs of a Girl Monk, but it’s the true story of how Poole’s family came to join a cult. A premise like that is tough to screw up. Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave, 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. All ages. 7 pm
Nobody can really argue that Dan Clowes is underrated—the man’s name is synonymous with high-quality literary comics—but Clowes is a rare talent in that he keeps getting better as he ages. For those reasons and more, his newest book, a time-traveling comic titled Patience, is one of the most-anticipated books (not “comics”; books) of 2016. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 925 E Pike St, 658-0110, fantagraphics.com/flog/bookstore. Free. All ages. 6 pm.
Seattle poet Hannah Notess’s latest collection, The Multitude, has been a long time coming. Her excellent video-game-obsessed chapbook Ghost House won Floating Bridge Press’s 2013 Chapbook Award, and she’s kept a relatively low profile in the intervening years. We could use more fun, energetic, clear-headed poets; hopefully after this reading Notess won't disappear for another three years. Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Ave, 624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Free. All ages. 3 pm
When celebrated local playwright Paul Mullin announced his retirement from theater, everybody hoped it was more of a Jay-Z kind of retirement, as opposed to the Sean Connery variety. Thankfully, this debut party for his raucous memoir, The Starting Gate, indicates he’s not out of the writing game yet. St. Andrews Bar & Grill, 7406 Aurora Ave N, 523-1193. Free. 21 and over. 7 p.m. PAUL CONSTANT
If it’s March, that means it must be time for APRIL, the annual small-press literary festival that smashes drag queens, fancy clothes, and booze together into an orgasmic explosion of books and art. This year’s APRIL—the name stands for Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature—is the fifth annual festival, and it demonstrates a few signs of maturity. For one thing, the early evening happy hour readings that used to be an integral part of the APRIL experience have disappeared this year, leaving a leaner and more focused schedule in its place.
But don’t expect a subdued affair. This is the same festival, after all, that once concluded an event with Ed Skoog reading poetry in a parking garage while the audience circled him like some sort of literary Fight Club. They ended one dark, death-obsessed reading with a joyous surprise Ezell’s fried-chicken feast. Last year, they produced a literary séance hosted by Rebecca Brown that delivered the spirits of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas to the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room in a goofy, romantic celebration of literary love. APRIL is all about putting writing into uncomfortable places and seeing what happens.
On Tuesday, APRIL hosts an opening night party at the Pine Box, and as always, they’ve assembled a killer lineup to kick off the festival: Olympia poet and translator Alejandro de Acosta; Sarah Jaffe, whose coming-of-age novel Dryland was ecstatically blurbed by no less a titan than Argonauts author Maggie Nelson; APRIL writer-in-residence Jenny Zhang; and Short Run co-founder and cartoonist Kelly Froh. So right there, you have a translator who publishes essays in anarchist journals, a subversive young adult author, one of the city’s finest cartoonists, and the New York-based Zhang, whose precise essays, fiction, and poetry marks her as one of the hottest up-and-coming young names in NYC literary circles. What happens when you pack them all in a bar and get some booze in them? Who knows? You have to show up and see; that’s part of the fun.
But there’s sure to be more than just a few impressive names at this party; in five years APRIL has proven itself to be genetically incapable of putting on a boring event. Their opening parties have involved mind-bending drag performances, shiny mylar balloons, music from fun bands like Pony Time, pizza, and the occasional giddy burst of hair metal. “Expect the unexpected” is more than a shitty bumper sticker—it’s the one rule in the APRIL Festival guidebook.
The opening night party kicks off what looks to be a gratifying week of festivities including a fifth anniversary party bringing back some of APRIL’s greatest hits including Skoog, Galvin, Maged Zaher, Robert Lashley, and many more; a visual art show inspired by Zhang’s poetry; a talk by David Schmader about the depiction of writers in movies; and the climactic APRIL Book Expo at Hugo House, which, for one day, becomes the largest non-corporate bookstore in the entire state of Washington. The cherry trees are blooming, the days are getting longer, and APRIL is arriving in March. It’s time to get excited. The Pine Box, 1600 Melrose Ave, 588-0375, aprilfestival.com. Free. 21 and over. 7:30 pm.