Claudia Castro Luna told KUOW last year that her primary goal as Seattle’s very first Civic Poet was to create “a poetry grid,” a cultural map of Seattle. Tonight, her grid expands to West Seattle with the help of Oscar de la Paz, a powerful poet who writes about murder and love and heartbreak. C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave. SW, 933-3125, wordswestliterary.weebly.com. Free. 7 p.m.
The crown jewel of the APRIL Festival is traditionally this storytelling competition, which pits different storytellers against each other in narrative mortal combat. Your competitors this year are poet EJ Koh, playwright Sara Porkalob, memoirist (not novelist) Brian McGuigan, and drag queen Mal DeFleur. It should be a very good time, despite the fact that I'll be your host for the evening. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, hugohouse.org. $10-15. All ages. 7:30 p.m.
We have a rule here at the Seattle Review of Books that if we recommend an event we're involved in, we have to supply an alternate event for the same evening. As alternate events go, they don't get much better than this: Jaimee Garbacik envisioned Ghosts of Seattle Past as a multimedia experience—poetry and fiction and photos and comics—lamenting the Seattle that doesn’t exist anymore. Tonight, with the help of dozens of Ghosts contributors, Garbacik will launch the project into the world in a “relentless, 6-hour Irish wake.” LoveCityLove, 1406 E Pike St., seattleghosts.com. Free. All ages. 6 p.m.
Keep an eye out for APRIL Festival’s literary events all week long; they’re all recommended. But tonight’s celebration combines past APRIL show-stoppers—Robert Lashley, Sarah Galvin—with a few new names like Anastacia Tolbert and Hannah Sanghee Park to pay tribute to this amazing weird adventure that APRIL has become. Fred Wildlife Refuge, 127 Boylston Ave E., aprilfestival.com. $5. 21 and over. 7:30 p.m.
This week, Seattle poet Natasha Marin is producing two literary events. One of them, the Margin Shift reading featuring Daemond Arrindell and Imani Sims, among others, at Common AREA Maintenance on Thursday, March 17th, is open to everyone. The other, Read & Bleed at Twilight Gallery in West Seattle on Saturday, March 19th, is, as the Facebook page says, for “WOMEN ONLY (Women-Identified ok).”Read & Bleed is a reading series devoted to self-care. Over email, Marin explains that women are encouraged to come dressed for “freedom and comfort,” by which she means sweatpants, pajamas and the kind of clothes they wear at home when they’re on their periods. “We have to take care of ourselves,” she says. “It's vitally important. To society at large, our needs, our bodies, and our minds are an afterthought.” Wine and chocolate is provided, as are “a truly shocking amount of cushions and blankets.” Readers and listeners are urged to relax and enjoy themselves in a nonjudgmental environment that Marin likens to “a womb filled with unafraid voices.” So what happens at Read & Bleeds? “About 25 women read with mini-breaks every hour,” Marin explains. “Bleeder Readers, as we call ourselves, do not have to have a literary background. They don't even have to read their own work. Each is given 5 minutes to share.” The debut Read & Bleed featured “butch dykes to breastfeeding moms to former sex workers and everything in between.” She says the format creates “many moments of laughter, nest-like cuddling, and tears and sighs of sympathy. It's not like any other reading I've ever been to, and I'm extremely proud of that fact!” Marin chose the Twilight Gallery because she says owner Tracy Cilona “is the kind of woman who includes and refuses to exclude. She loves beauty and community and free women who grow their own pubic hair.” Because of that, Twilight is a safe space. She says “I go through my life as a woman of color being constantly told to ‘know my place’ because I have high expectations for myself and others, but at Twilight, my GPS isn't broken — I'm home and everyone else I bring with me is welcomed in like family.” Marin’s many events share a guiding philosophy of “diversity and the spirit of inclusion.” It’s about listening and asking people to share their perspectives and not falling prey to nepotism and laziness: “I am so fucking tired of people talking about how hard it is to find and create diverse (actually representative) audiences!” She says Read & Bleed is living proof of the importance of inclusion: “It doesn't matter if you think of yourself as ‘that kind of woman’ or not, Read & Bleed will welcome you with greasy or dry matted hair and will pass you a glass of wine and give you a hug.” Did Marin learn anything surprising at the first Read & Bleed? Yes: “Women can save the world one cathartic shared sigh at a time,” she says. “Oh, and we deserve all the good things.” No arguments here.
Twilight Gallery, 4306 SW Alaska St., 933-2444, twilightart.net. Free. 21 and over. 8 p.m.
Every March, the APRIL Festival culminates in an orgy of independent literature: small press publishers from around the country set up tables in the Hugo House and sell their newest, most exciting books as readings and lectures happen around the House. It’s the freewheelingest day in Seattle’s literary calendar year. Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 322-7030, hugohouse.org. Free. All ages. 11 a.m.
For six incredible years, Janette Sadik-Khan worked as the transportation commissioner of New York City. Her tenure delivered bike lanes, pedestrian-only streets, and additional parks throughout the city. Tonight, she brings her book about that experience, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, to town, with special guest interviewer Mayor Ed Murray. Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $32. All ages. 7:30 p.m.
Seattle’s not the first city to wrestle with tech-fueled gentrification. San Francisco’s Streetopia art festival examined the way the city was changing and honored the populations that were being left behind. Erick Lyle’s new anthology Streetopia collects essays examining the lessons of the festival; Seattle can learn a lot from this book. (And if you'd like to learn more, I wrote a review of Streetopia earlier this month.) Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St., 622-0195, leftbankbooks.com. Free. All ages. 7:30 p.m.