Walk, talk, and listen your way through Lit Crawl Seattle 2017

By Carla Bell
October 18, 2017

There’s something about Lit Crawl that feels just our own. It’s distinctly Seattle, like Velcro sandals in the rain, Lake Washington on opening day of boating season, and like when our leaves begin to show their fall colors. From that point on, we’re in excited anticipation for this night. Lit Crawl, beloved and distinctive, but far from exclusive, enjoys a global and increasing popularity.

What started as an experiment in San Francisco in 2004 has since become one of the most anticipated literary nights of the year – in 13 cities and counting! Lit Crawl bolsters the local literary scene and captures its city’s unique flavor – all while getting book lovers alike drunk on words. For Free.(Lit Crawl Global: Where literature hits the streets)

Besides Seattle, there’s San Francisco – the original, Portland, Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, Chicago, Iowa City, Minneapolis, Boston, New York City, Wellington (New Zealand), Cheltenham (England), Kells (Ireland), Helsinki (Finland), and more to come.

This “labor of love,” now in its fifth year, escorts a fun-loving and diverse crowd through the streets of Seattle to each hosting venue. As varied in its writers, genres, and event locations as in the folks who come to hear the authors read from their latest works, Lit Crawl is really a mashup of “crazy genius”, says Jekeva Phillips.

When former Managing Director Brian McGuigan left Lit Crawl to pursue his writing, Jekeva transitioned from her longtime Volunteer Coordinator position to what had been Brian’s role. “It felt natural,” she says. Keep your eye on multi-talented, multi-tasking powerhouse writer, improv actor, singer, job coach, and now Lit Crawl Managing Director Jekeva Phillips, and be amazed.

Jekeva and the rest of the badass team (her words) at Lit Crawl are “super on top of it,” she proudly pronounces. A committed forum, some writers themselves, that have fully thought this thing through and work together so well that they make a production of this scale look easy.

37 author participants and venues, a few involving food! – and related readings, of course – all pulled together for this one night. Enjoy selected readings from latest works of known authors, some award-winning, but from little known authors, too, because Lit Crawl is for everyone, not just the “established” lot. Another great reason, Jekeva realizes as we’re talking, to “leave money out of it.”

The Lit Crawl 2017 lineup begins on the hour at 6:00 p.m. and breaks every 45 minutes, allowing 15 minutes for casual travel between venues, all within a walkable distance from one to the other.

Highlighting just a couple of the events, or “phases” as referenced in event materials:

At 6:00 p.m., Jeffrey Cheatham II, Founder of Seattle Urban Book Expo (S.U.B.E.), will host S.U.B.E. authors Kristin Alana, Kamari Bright, and Natasha Rivers.

At 8:00 p.m., fitting for National Poetry Month, Seattle’s Civic Poet, Anastacia-Reneé, will read and join Reagan Jackson, of Seattle Globalist, for a Q & A.

When the last session ends at 9:45 p.m., make your way to the After Party at Zoe Events where, beginning at 10:00 p.m., you can rub shoulders with authors, purchase books, load up on Lit Crawl swag, and groove to the rhythms of DJ Chuck while taking in Shane Knode’s typewriter poetry. After Party admission is free to Lit Crawl 2017 volunteers, $5 at the door for everyone else, and alcohol is available for purchase by guests age 21+.

The event is already a success, with participation up from last year, and it’s expected to increase again in 2018. Interested in volunteering your time and skills for Lit Crawl 2018? Contact the team at litcrawlseattle@gmail.com. Planning meetings will begin in the summer.

The Lit Crawl team:

  • Jekeva Phillips, Managing Director
  • Kait Heacock, Programming Manager
  • Julia Hands, Marketing and Logistics
  • Molly Thornton, Volunteers & Venues Coordinator
  • Kerry Mellor, Creative Director
  • Wendy Fairbanks, Director of Development & Sponsorships

Carla Bell is a Seattle-based writer and abolitionist engaged in restorative justice and civil rights advocacy, supporting community resilience and healing, and a perpetual student of arts and culture.