The organizers of the APRIL Festival just sent an email out with some bad news: next year will be the final APRIL. And the final APRIL will be an abbreviated, single-day serving. But boy does it sound like a lot of fun: on Saturday, April 1st, they will host “an all-star Poet, Playwright, Novelist and Drag Queen competition, readings from our favorite authors, a mini book expo and more under a literal circus tent at Hugo House.”
This is, of course, very sad. APRIL has hosted some of my very favorite literary events, including Seattle’s first literary crawl, a surprise fried chicken dinner, a séance, and so many more. In just five years, APRIL had become the much-needed first ray of light in the Seattle arts calendar after our long and gloomy winters. When APRIL time came around, everything seemed possible again: yes, people were willing to cram themselves into a house-turned-art-gallery, arm themselves with cheap beers, and listen to a poetry reading. Yes, hundreds of people would show up for a book festival made up of only small-press titles. Yes, it’s spring and it’s time to think about books.
But here’s the thing: not everything needs to last forever. And it’s not like the spirit behind APRIL is leaving Seattle. All the organizers of APRIL are pursuing their dreams, and they will all continue to be deeply involved in Seattle’s literary scene. Willie Fitzgerald is a Made at Hugo Fellow. Tara Atkinson’s first book of fiction is coming out soon. Frances Chiem is, happily, getting her writing out into the world more often. Sarah Baker edits Small Po[r]tions.
So yes, of course we will join them in their circus tent next year and get drunk and be really, really sad that we’re at the last APRIL Festival. We must do this, to honor the terrific times we had and the amazing community they created together. In the long history of literature in Seattle, there has never been anything quite like APRIL, and that is an achievement worth celebrating.
If you want to thank APRIL's organizers for all their hard work and volunteer for next year's last big show, they'll be running a booth at this Saturday's Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, where they'll be selling APRIL merchandise for cheap. Go support them and show your respect.
But we can’t be too sad about this for too long. Here’s the thing: if you’re very upset about APRIL going away, that means one thing and one thing only: It’s your turn to start a book festival. You have no excuses left. Trust me, the APRIL organizers didn’t have any cash when they started their festival. They used their imaginations to throw a bunch of unconventional events, and then they relied on their community to provide the resources and connections to make each successive APRIL better than the last. You, too, can do this. I’m sure APRIL’s organizers would be happy to sit down and talk with you about how they made it happen. I know that the Seattle Review of Books would love to help you get the word out about your crazy plans. You can do this. It’s up to you now.