Literary Events of the Week: Short Run and the Cascadia Poetry Festival

It’s an overwhelming year. We’re all overwhelmed by the presidential election, we’ve been overwhelmed by the continual cycle of cool celebrities dying and the swarm of overwrought tributes to said deceased cool celebrities that flood our social media feeds, and Seattle’s incredible growth — and attendant anxieties — has been impossibly overwhelming all year long. In fact, everything has been overwhelming for so long that we’ve forgotten what it is to feel whelmed.

Here’s where you’re probably hoping I’ll explain that we’re in for a rare quiet week in the literary arts, with one big reading and some small, quieter group readings filing out a pastoral moment in the Seattle literary community. Ha, ha — nope! Prepare to be overwhelmed again, motherfuckers!

Seattle is host to not just one but two literary-minded festivals this week. The Spring Street Center hosts the latest edition of the Cascadia Poetry Festival (, in which poets gather to discuss what, exactly, a Cascadian tradition of poetry means. Poets are pouring in from all over the region to take part in this, and it’s one of the few artistic celebrations of the region that doesn’t ignore the politics of what it means to be Cascadian.

And all week long, cartoonists and small press folks are celebrating the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival { at (mostly free) events around town. The week kicks off with four international cartoonists on the 2nd at the Central Library—see the calendar for more details—and then on the 3rd, Mexican cartoonist Inés Estrada is hosting a bilingual cartooning workshop for kids at the South Park branch of the library. On the 4th, Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery is hosting an art show, a special preview of cartooning maestro Dash Shaw’s upcoming animated feature film, and a reading from local comics rock star Tom Van Deusen.

But that’s all just preamble for the big show: the sixth annual Short Run Festival on Saturday the 5th, from 11 am to 6 pm at the Fisher Pavillion at Seattle Center. Nearly 300 artists from around the world will be showing their work in one of the fastest-growing festivals of its kind. Part of the thrill of Short Run is in how overwhelming it is: you just walk in, wander around, and see what speaks to you: last year, I was blown away by work from Seattle paper-craft cartoonist Mita Mahato, Robyn Jordan’s #shoutyourabortion-themed minicomic, and the weirdly beautiful comic series Coin-Op out of California.

Because wandering the floor can be, yes, overwhelming, Short Run’s programmers have set up various sideshows, including a speed painter, animation shows, a community coloring project, and a comic called Arctic Circle that foregoes the visual to tell its stories through the sense of touch. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s also an afterparty at Washington Hall featuring musical acts DoNormaal, Nail Polish, DJ Green Thumb, and Hatem Imam, for a wildly reasonable cover price of $7. So go ahead and be overwhelmed: maybe you can get some sleep next week.