Sometimes you just need to throw a goddamned party, you know? Sometimes you need to show off, 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, bookstores, and event spaces in five different “phases” this Thursday. Readings begin at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m., with an afterparty from 10 p.m. to midnight at Zoë Events on E Union Street.
This is quite possibly the most diverse Lit Crawl since the San Francisco operation opened 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. Her predecessor, Claudia Castro Luna, will present her final thesis: an online map of Seattle, told in site-specific poems.
I’ll be highlighting particular Lit Crawl readings all week long at The Seattle Review of Books (seattlereviewofbooks.com), but first I wanted to spotlight what must be the night’s centerpiece: Eileen Myles’ reading at Elliott Bay Book Company at 7 p.m. If Myles isn’t the smartest, funniest, most important poet in America right now, she’s got to be 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, Afterglow (a dog memoir), is her attempt to write an autobiography for her late, beloved dog Rosie. Unsurprisingly, it’s 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 Oct. 19. But I have a question for you: What reading are you attending on Oct. 20? What bookstore are you visiting on Oct. 21? It’s easy to show up for the big, flashy parties, but we can’t have a community unless you participate 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 are taking a noticeable hit for it. If the media continues to abdicate its 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.
Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.