A couple years ago, lit crawls seized the imagination of Seattle's literary events planners. It started with the APRIL Festival, which led a few dozen lovers of literature around Capitol Hill bars and restaurants one cold March night. It was a lot of fun; Sarah Galvin read poetry to a hostile room of karaoke lovers, and Tara Atkinson read a story about Burger King while being pulled in a wagon from one venue to the next. More than fun, it was inspiring: literature leaving the formal constraints of a bookstore behind, forcing poetry into places where poetry was never discussed! Of course, copycats immediately emerged: One group hosted no less than five seasonal lit crawls in Greenwood, and San Francisco's Litquake organization brought a huge multi-track crawl to Seattle. The idea marched from novel to cliché without any stops in between.
But this Thursday, Litquake is back with the second in a projected annual series of proper-noun Lit Crawls—find the full schedule at litcrawl.org/seattle/schedule—and though the idea doesn't feel so much joyous as overstuffed, the copious talent attached to this one-night festival simply can't be ignored. The evening starts at 6 p.m. with a first "phase" consisting of seven events running in venues around downtown and on Capitol Hill and First Hill, ranging from a discussion about comics to a spotlight on the exciting iPad magazine The Magazine to a panel of memoirists. The second phase is made up of six events including publisher previews from Dark Coast Press and Tin House, along with a presentation of music writing. Poets Karen Finneyfrock, Ed Skoog, Rebecca Hoogs, and the new Stranger Genius of literature, Maged Zaher, read in venues ranging from timeshare office spaces to wine bars. The third phase gives way to a big wrap party at Hugo House that is expected to stretch from 9 p.m. to midnight. It's all been planned down to the last strangled second, but hopefully spontaneity will ooze in along the way; messiness and accidents are the ingredients that make events like this memorable.