The Literata: Tara Atkinson

Age 26 
Neighborhood Capitol Hill 
Hometown Plymouth, Ind. 
Last book read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 
Favorite movie Beverly Hills Cop 
Recent personal achievement I just bought socks for the first time in three years

Tara Atkinson melds silliness, nostalgia and in-your-face honesty in her ultra-personal fiction. So it makes sense that she describes her writing process as something like laying an egg. “I think about it gestating inside me,” she says, deadpan.

Atkinson’s first chapbook of flash fiction, Bedtime Stories, was published by local art-book press Alice Blue in October. Weaving through adolescence and young adulthood, the stories recall the quiet desires that get lost in muddled memory without using the flowery tropes that often accompany writing about that age.

Now Atkinson is working to finish a creative writing MFA at University of Washington and her first novel, a Midwestern family drama. She’s also gearing up for the second-annual APRIL (Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature) lit fest in March.

As co-founder and managing director of APRIL, Atkinson helped put on some of the most nontraditional, debauched literary events in Seattle last year, including Seattle’s first litcrawl, which ended with a raucous late-night reading by local poet Ed Skoog in a basement parking lot on Capitol Hill. This year’s APRIL fest will take place March 25–30, featuring a small-press book fair at Hugo House and a storytelling competition at the Sorrento where at least one contestant will be a drag queen.

APRIL began in part to fill the space left by Pilot Books, a literary hub that closed in 2011. “When Pilot was open, I once put a temporary tattoo on a girl’s chest with PBR,” Atkinson says. “It’s all about trying to recreate that experience.”

While taking part in the storytelling event Too Drunk to Fuck at Washington Ensemble Theatre last fall, Atkinson showcased a piece titled “Recipe.” Onstage she recited a cyclical litany about being in love with too many people at one time, while vigorously chopping a bag’s worth of onions onstage, forcing herself to tears.

“I thought all the confessions were in the text,” says Atkinson about “Recipe.” “But there were all these tiny secrets about how I cry when I chop onions and how I talk towards the floor accidentally built in.”

Read Atkinson’s story, “Switchplates.”

Photo by Dylan Priest. Return to the complete Future List.