Forget March — APRIL starts tonight

Tonight is the first night of the APRIL Festival, the annual celebration of Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature. Now through Sunday, APRIL will be putting on events around Capitol and First Hill. Most of those events are absolutely free. But I wanted to alert you to the two events that are ticketed: Thursday night's "A Poet, a Playwright, a Novelist and a Drag Queen" competitive storytelling event and Friday night's Five-Year Anniversary party.

I'm excited to host Thursday night's event; APRIL's storytelling competition is the only feature that has persisted through all five years of the festival's existence. If you haven't been, it's exactly what it sounds like: three writers and one drag queen tell stories, with the best story selected by a panel of judges. Almost every year, the drag queen wins. (Last year, the poet, Robert Lashley, should have won but did not win.) This year's contestants are Seattle poet EJ Koh, playwright Sara Porkalob, memoirist Brian McGuigan and drag queen Mal DeFleur. The theme for this year's competition is "high five." I can't wait to see how the competitors interpret that. You should buy tickets for this one in advance; these events have been known to sell out early.

And Friday night's fifth anniversary event brings five APRIL all-stars (Ed Skoog, Elissa Ball, Maged Zaher, Robert Lashley, and Sarah Galvin) together with five new-to-APRIL writers (Leena Joshi, Anastacia Tolbert, Hannah Sanghee Park, Bernard Grant, and Jessica Mooney) to read 500 words each. Tickets for this one are five dollars at the door, but if you want to buy $50 VIP tickets, that would help APRIL put on more events like this. I know it seems pricey, but as I said, APRIL doesn't charge admission for most of their events. If you're in a place to pay for VIP tickets, you'd be helping to subsidize all those other great free events that they put on.

And finally, be sure to save some money for Sunday's Book Expo, which will feature booths from all sorts of small publishers, magazines, and other organizations. This is a great, low-stress way for Seattle's literary community to come together and hang out. It's free to enter and you're not required to buy anything — just showing up would be more than enough support. (And The Seattle Review of Books will be hosting a table at this event; we hope you'll drop by and say hi.)