Sometimes you just need to throw a goddamned party, you know? Sometimes you need to show off, and invite everyone over, and throw the fuck down. In the Seattle literary scene, Lit Crawl has become that party, the one-night shindig that lays everything out in one glorious buffet. Spreading across Capitol Hill, First Hill, and downtown, Lit Crawl takes place in bars and bookstores and event spaces in five different “phases” on Thursday, October 19th. Readings begin at 6 pm, 7 pm, 8, pm, and 9 pm, with an afterparty running from 10 pm to midnight at Zoë Events on E Union Street.
This is quite possibly the most diverse Lit Crawl since the San Francisco operation opened up a Seattle franchise back in 2012. It includes readings from sci-fi authors, mystery authors, kid’s books, poetry, cookbooks, and podcasts. There are readings highlighting African-American authors and Asian-American authors. Maori author Nic Low is in town from New Zealand as part of a cultural exchange. The amazing Anastacia Reneé, Seattle’s newest Civic Poet, is featured in a showcase. The Civic Poet who came before Anastacia Reneé, Claudia Castro Luna, will be presenting her final thesis — an online map of Seattle, told in site-specific poems.
I want to spotlight what must be the centerpiece of the night: Eileen Myles’s reading at Elliott Bay Book Company at 7 pm. If Myles isn’t the smartest, funniest, most important poet in America right now, she’s got to be right up near the top of the list.
Myles has written about sex, gender politics, LGBTQ issues, Iceland, and the seeming inability of poetry to communicate anything at all. Her latest book is titled Afterglow (a dog memoir), and it’s Myles’s attempt to write an autobiography for her late, beloved dog Rosie. Unsurprisingly, the book is getting hammered by Amazon reviewers who expected the next Marley & Me and came away confused. One reviewer calls the book “Too much hard work” and whines “I found Myles' style to be the antithesis of poet Mary Oliver.” (Uh, thank God?)
So obviously you know what you’re doing on October 19th. But I have a question for you: what reading are you attending on October 20th? What bookstore are you visiting on October 21st? It’s easy to show up for the big, flashy parties, but we can’t have a community unless you show up for it on days when there’s not a giant festival going on. Fewer and fewer media outlets in Seattle are providing comprehensive and consistent arts coverage—which I define as reviews, news, and interviews—and the arts in Seattle is taking a noticeable hit for it. If the media continues to abdicate their responsibility as chroniclers of the entire scene—and not just the attention-grabbing parties—this city will suffer, venues will close, and artists will move away.
Simply: if you love books, and reading, and the fantastic literary community we have here in Seattle, you have to show up for stuff. Yes, come to Lit Crawl. Obviously, come to Lit Crawl. But be here all the time. If you’re not there for the community, you’ll one day turn around to discover that the community’s not there for you.