“For one awesome night each year,” in the words of Rebekah Anderson, “Lit Crawl Seattle takes over the Capitol Hill and First Hill neighborhoods, with over 80 Pacific Northwest readers, performers and artists presenting their work at pubs, museums, cafes, libraries and a host of other spaces.”
This year’s Lit Crawl, with Anderson as the managing director, goes down the evening of Thursday, Oct. 27, with readings, performances and happenings scheduled from 6-6:45 p.m., 7-7:45 p.m., 8-8:45 p.m. and 9-9:45 p.m., totaling more than 35 events at more than 15 venues and with more than 80 readers and performers.
Lit Crawl Seattle started in 2012 as a collaboration with City Arts Festival, APRIL, Litquake and Anderson, who at the time ran the reading series, Debut Lit, hosting release parties for first-time authors. It draws from the Litquake Foundation, an international organization that facilitates Lit Crawls around the country, including San Francisco, New York, Austin, Los Angeles, Iowa City, Chicago and Denver.
“The project is fueled entirely by a volunteer staff that changes each year,” Anderson said, “so we’ve kept our goals modest, hoping to build on the previous team’s successes a little each year, by enriching and expanding the programming. We’ve expanded to five hours of programming, but kept the number of readings close to the same as last year, to give attendees a chance to see more of the events that happen throughout the evening.”
The writers come from many places and walks of life, and demonstrate many approaches.
Will O’Donnell, who’s been helping with programming this year at Lit Crawl, near Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill. He works downtown at Pike Place Market and walks home most nights.
“I write a bit of everything,” O’Donnell said, “and I always have many pieces going. Different emotions and different thoughts, at least for me, demand different forms. I am really interested in the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. Most of what I write is true to life, and has either happened to me or happened to people I know. Some tales come out truer when the details are manufactured to make a point, and sometimes there is nothing more powerful than finding a way to say what simply happened.”
Afrose Fatima Ahmed lives on Beacon Hill, where, she reports, trees, birds and a small running stream help her “maintain my connection to nature.”
She writes creative nonfiction and teaches creative writing workshops. During the Lit Crawl 21-plus after party, which starts 10 p.m. at Velocity Dance Center with a $5 cover, Ahmed will showcase her “heart-crafted” poems, written to order, usually from a single word of inspiration given by someone else.
“It’s hard to say which words are most challenging,” she said. “I feel my job is to allow the creative spirit to flow through me — I don’t have time to censor or worry over what comes to the page. I write on a 1925 Underwood portable — I’ve been using antique typewriters for the last couple of years. I appreciate how they require me to commit to what I am writing and also to be okay with errors. I often think of the Japanese concept of wabisabi — the imperfection that makes the final product perfect.”
“We like to be egalitarian in our reader choices, by finding writers and performers at all stages of their careers and giving them a forum to present their work in their community,” Anderson said. “Most of our participants are local. We have national bestselling authors, local award winners, chapbook authors, teen writers, independent publishers, performers who take inspiration from the written word, playwrights and unpublished writers looking to get their work out there.
“It can also be a challenge, keeping track of all the moving parts with so many readers, who may also be emceeing at another reading. A lot of work goes into making sure we schedule everyone in venues that fit the format of their reading and that work with their schedule that night. We use a lot of spreadsheets.”
For more information about this year’s Lit Crawl, visit litcrawl.org/seattle.