Maybe you’ve never been to an APRIL Festival before. Maybe you’re new to town. Maybe it just didn’t sound like your thing—maybe you don’t like bars, or maybe you’re nervous about going to readings. That’s okay. I’m not going to slather you with wistful sentimentality talking about what APRIL—the name stands for Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature—has meant to the city, or what it’s meant to me, in its five years as a literary festival in Seattle.
But I am going to tell you that this Saturday, April 1st, is the very last APRIL Festival. And attendance this time around is mandatory. Sure, maybe you work that day, or maybe you’ve got brunch plans. That’s okay. The festival stretches from noon to midnight; surely, you can carve some time out somewhere in there. It’s going to take place at Hugo House on First Hill, and it’s free. It couldn’t be any easier to attend.
Most of the day will be made up of APRIL’s book expo, a marketplace of independent presses, where publishers sell their books directly to you. For the day, it will be the largest indie-only bookstore in the Pacific Northwest—maybe the whole country or the world. Bring some cash, although just about everybody has Square nowadays and can process your credit cards. During the Expo, local authors like Quenton Baker, Sarah Galvin, Matthew Simmons, and Elissa Washuta—APRIL veterans all—will read. The scientific poetry brigade Vis-à-Vis Society will be around doing social poetic experiments (kind of like Mad Libs, only with bar graphs) on guests.
Then there’s what APRIL is calling a “very special dinner reading with Jayinee Basu, Tommy Pico, and Anastacia Renee Tolbert,” followed by the festival’s long-running competitive storytelling event “A Poet, a Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen,” which is exactly what it sounds like, and a huge dance party to cap off the night—and the festival.
So. What’s this got to do with you, a person who’s never before attended an APRIL? Well, as I said, it’s the last one, so you get future bragging rights to say you were there when the whole thing came to an end. And the APRIL organizers, all of whom are still going to be involved with Seattle’s literary community as writers and fans, really know how to put a fun, surprising event together. I guarantee you’ll see something you’ve never before seen at a reading. And hopefully it’ll inspire you to put together a festival of your own.
But there’s more going on than just a huge, fun party. Listen: The thing is that Seattle’s literary community is poised at a moment of tremendous change. The huge collection of zines and minicomics once held by the Zine Archive and Publishing Project (ZAPP) is about to go to the Seattle Public Library. Washuta and poet Jane Wong are about to leave town to pursue academic careers. Poets Maged Zaher and Michelle Peñaloza just moved away. Local bookstores Zanadu Comics, Wide World Books & Maps and Lem’s Life Enrichment Bookstore are all considering paths forward, as a second Amazon Books is set to open in Bellevue.
My point is this: We are living in a Moment. Not necessarily a good Moment or a bad Moment, but most definitely a Moment. Things in Seattle’s literary community are about to change. And this party is your opportunity to enjoy the Moment as it happens, to peek around the corner and to find your place in the Brave New Bookish Seattle that lies ahead. Hugo House, 1021 Columbia St., 322-7030, hugohouse.org. Free. All ages. Noon. Sat., April 1. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.