Lit Life

Think of it as a pub crawl, but with writers. Lit Crawl Seattle 2019, a roving literary party taking place the evening of Thursday, Oct. 24, will present 48 readings and other literary events, all of them featuring local writers, at venues all over Capitol Hill. And it’s (almost) all free.

“Our whole idea is to illuminate the voices that Seattle has — we have so many different and amazing poets and writers, doing really fun stuff,” said Jekeva Phillips, managing director of Lit Crawl Seattle. “We want people to come and see who are the poets and writers in their backyard, who’s writing their next great book in a coffee shop.”

Lit Crawl Seattle, now in its eighth year, is part of an international tradition. The idea of a free one-night literary festival began in San Francisco two decades ago, originally christened Litstock. Later renamed Litquake, it expanded to multiple days, ending with a Lit Crawl through the city’s Mission District. In recent years, other cities have picked up the tradition: Annual Lit Crawls now take place in Seattle, Austin, New York City, Iowa City, Los Angeles, Portland, London and Helsinki. Phillips estimated that about 2,000 people attended last year’s Seattle event.

Seattle’s version, organized by a committee of six local writers — “a bunch of badass ladies,” Phillips said — takes place in more than a dozen bookstores, bars, coffeehouses, libraries and other venues, all a short hop from each other on Capitol Hill. Events will take place on the hour, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (each lasts 45 minutes, to give attendees time to get to the next venue); at 10 p.m., there’s an after-party at Hugo House.

The organizers are trying out some new twists this year. For one, the fun’s starting earlier: Lit Crawl Seattle formerly started at 6 p.m.; now things get under way at 5 p.m., with some of the events at that hour appropriate for all ages. “Stinky and Spooky with a Side of Magic” presents three local children’s book authors reading from some Halloween-appropriate work; another 5 p.m. event features three teenage readers from the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program.

While Lit Crawl Seattle has historically been free, this year brings a few low-cost ticketed events. An event titled “The Making of Seattle Cooks,” in which food writer Julien Perry discusses the process of developing a cookbook, is $5 (to offset the cost of food being served). “House of Ink,” an improvised murder mystery in which six famous authors are trapped in a house overnight, will be presented at Hugo House, performed by local actors and with the audience determining the murderer. It’s also $5; advance purchases for all ticketed events can be made at


And, in keeping with the literary theme, several of the venues will be presenting special craft cocktails inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. (“The Raven,” anyone?) A portion of the proceeds from these drinks will help fund future Lit Crawls.

In the future, Phillips said she’d like to see Lit Crawl be more than just readings. “I think we’re starting to do that this year,” she said, pointing to a workshop by local author Madeline ffitch about writing from different points of view, called “How Many Voices Does It Take” (also a $5 ticketed event).

“I think it’s really great to have things like that at Lit Crawl,” Phillips said. “It’s not just about readings, it’s also about connections.” She hopes Lit Crawl will provide a community for new-in-town writers, or young writers, or anyone interested in literary events — “giving people a place to learn, as well as party their butts off.”


Lit Crawl Seattle 2019, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at various venues on Capitol Hill;