Small Press, Big Party

5 Essential Events at APRIL Festival 2015

The Seattle small press festival is back in a big way: a storytelling brawl, ghosts of avant-garde expats, and lots and lots of books.

By Darren Davis March 18, 2015

Competitive storytelling between a poet, a playwright, a novelist, and a drag queen. But which one is which?

APRIL Festival (Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature) celebrates the diverse energies of Seattle writers and artists over five event-filled days of all things small press. In a week unique to Seattle, the efforts of independent publishers unite under one banner to share some drinks, laugh a lot, host some readings, and maybe sell a few books. Now in its fourth go-around (March 24–29), the festival has increased in ambition every year.

While every item on the APRIL calendar is worth seeing for yourself, here are this year's five can’t miss events.

Seance at the Sorrento Hotel
Sorrento Hotel
Wed, Mar 25 at 8

For the last three years, the Sorrento Hotel has hosted APRIL’s barn-burning storyteller competition. Last year the event was plagued by minor technical difficulties, the mischievous work of the ghost of Alice B. Tolkas, the Gertrude Stein contemporary who apparently now haunts the halls of the hotel (or so APRIL organizers were told). Naturally, APRIL moved this year's competition to a new venue and, in its place, put together a seance for the departed Ms. Tolkas. Hosted by Rebecca Brown, prolific Seattle author and Stein fan, the night will be filled with readings from poets Joshua Beckman and Jan Wallace. There will also be brownies and a Ouija board, for those drawn to both the sweet and macabre. Free

Vignettes Off-Site
RSVP for location
Thur, Mar 26 at 8:30

Fans of the visual arts (and keeping things on the QT) may already be keen on Vignettes, the largely word-of-mouth salon occasionally hosted in a Capitol Hill apartment. APRIL teams up with the minds behind Vignettes for an exhibition of mixed visual art inspired and informed by Wendy Xu’s You Are Not Dead, a conversational and imagistic work of poetry. The event location is private, so RSVP to get in the know. Free

A Poet, A Playwright, A Novelist, and a Drag Queen
Northwest Film Forum
Fri, Mar 27 at 8

The perennial fan favorite moves this year from its birthplace at the Sorrento Hotel to the Northwest Film Forum, as four performers face off in a night of raucous storytelling around a central theme. This year that theme is “Locusts and Other Plagues," narrowly beating out another fan suggestion: "Pants." Previous competitions have seen poets emerge from rolling suitcases, an Oliver Twist drag performance with plenty of upskirts, and monologues that left audiences literally howling in laughter. The lineup this year includes poet Robert Lashley, playwright and one-woman show vet Elizabeth Heffron, San Francisco-based author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and Seattle drag treasure Princess Charming. $7–$10

A Damn Fine Reading! And Hot!
Hugo House
Sat, Mar 28 at 8

For the second year in a row, APRIL has brought on a writer-in-residence to act as a sort of scribe and laureate throughout the week. This year’s APRIL resident writer is Shya Scanlon, the New York-based author whose Twin Peaks Project calls artists to react to the seminal TV show. Scanlon reads from his new book The Guild of St. Cooper, accompanied by Mathew Simmons (Happy Rock) and fiction writer Mary Miller. Original music from Twin Peaks will also be performed by Your Young Bodies. Kyle MacLachlan will most likely not be in attendance. $5

APRIL Book Expo
Hugo House
Sun, Mar 29 from 11am–5

The culmination of APRIL’s annual efforts, the book expo features over 40 small presses from around the country. The expo is a rare opportunity to support and converse with small press publishers, advocates, readers, and authors all under one roof. It is fitting that APRIL closes out yet another year at Hugo House, one of Seattle’s most invaluable literary hubs. Free

APRIL Festival 2015
Mar 24–29, Various Venues, Free–$10

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