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Jackie Hell performs at APRIL’s 2013 Benediction party at Chop Suey.

Image: Joe Lambert

In the throes of a typically raucous karaoke night at the Crescent Lounge in Capitol Hill, Sarah Galvin appeared on stage to read some poems. Half the standing-room-only crowd had no idea what was happening, she remembers. But after spouting 10 minutes of epiphany and obscenity, testing out the sort of work that five years later would fill her book Ugly Time, Galvin had converted at least some of the sweaty and antagonistic room into poetry enthusiasts. That inaugural week of festivities, in which the Crescent reading was just one event, marked “a watershed moment for the [writing] community,” she says. And this year will be the last.

APRIL—Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature—has manifested each spring since 2012 as a weeklong celebration of all things small press: myriad readings like the literary pub crawl and a storytelling competition titled, “A Poet, a Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen,” all capped off by a Sunday book fair.

Founded by local writers Willie Fitzgerald and Tara Atkinson and managed by a rotating pro bono team, the weeklong event soon proved to be a yearlong process of fundraising, grant writing, and programming. “The administrative side of art is so valuable, but can become taxing,” says acting director Frances Chiem. In short the writers who ran APRIL had no time to write.

The party may be ending this year with a send-off event, but it leaves having made its mark on the local literary scene. “APRIL took readings out of bookstores and into bars, onto the street,” says Paul Constant of The Seattle Review of Books, who started noticing younger crowds at readings after 2012.

Drew Swenhaugen of Gramma, a Seattle poetry press founded last fall, says the festival exposed audiences to a “whole new caliber of writers,” like Sarah Galvin (whose book Gramma published). Now a celebrity of sorts in the local poetry community, Galvin sees APRIL as an incubator, a place where “lots of young writers who’d felt like they were working in a vacuum realized they had a stake in something crucial.”

APRIL 2017 Goodbye Party
Apr 1 at Hugo House, free

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