Top 10 Offsite Readings during AWP

This week, upwards of 10,000 writers will descend on Seattle to attend The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference (AWP), which means that Seattle’s bars will play host to four straight days of performances that feature some of the best living writers on the planet. The best part: almost all of these readings are free and open to the public. 

Because the world is cruel, several of these readings overlap with one another, so you won’t be able to attend all of them. But here’s the cream of the crop. (Tip: Each of these readings has several readers on the docket, so reading-hopping is rampant, and even encouraged.)

The Breadline Finale
After three years of bringing top-notch interdisciplinary performances to Seattle, the breadline is finally closing up shop. Poets Michelle Peñaloza, Roberto Carlos Ascalon, Arlene Biala, Sarah Heady, and musical guest Oh! Pears will sing the series’ swan song, along with the open mic performers. After all the hugging and toasting, stick around and honor this literary happening in the old fashioned way: by raging out to DJ Windows95.

Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.
Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar
1508 11th Ave

AWP Kick-Off Party with Poetry Northwest & SAL
Two of the PNW’s literary powerhouses join forces to bring you some of the region’s best poets, featuring Brittany Cavallaro, Jessica Fisher, Matthew Neinow, Matthew Olzmann, Hannah Sanghee Park, Zach Savich, Cody Walker, Kary Wayson, Catherine Wing and MacArthur Genius Heather McHugh. Special guests Mouce Manouche will play sultry Frenchy tunes.

Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 8–11 p.m.
The Pine Box
1600 Melrose Ave.

Copper Canyon and Cave Canem All-stars: An AWP Poetry Reading
Cave Canem has been providing a home for African American voices for years, and Copper Canyon Press has been publishing important books of poetry since ’72. For AWP Seattle they’ve teamed up and arranged a group of heavy-hitters from all over: Mark Bibbins, Jericho Brown, Cyrus Cassells, Natlie Diaz, Fady Joudah, Deborah Landau, Lisa Olstein, and Roger Reeves, whose first book King Me is necessary reading. As is Diaz’s My Brother Was an Aztec. As is Jericho Brown’s Please. 

Thursday, Feb. 27 from 6–8 p.m.
Sorrento Hotel
900 Madison St.

Similar:Peaks:: Poetry + Press Release Party Vol. 1
This very young but promising press and journal is already publishing some of the freshest and most provocative contemporary writing out there. Go get experienced with Amy Silbergeld, Rauan Klassnik, Johannes Goransson, Monica McClure, Paula Cisewski, Marcus McDonald, Brian Oliu, Donald Dunbar, Lara Glenum, Brian W Hedgepeth, Jade Benoit, Kevin Sampsell and several others. 

Thursday, Feb. 27 from 9–11:45 p.m.
Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar
1508 11th Ave

A Midnight Triptych
If you’re still kicking after midnight, Colorado Review, Yalobusha Review, and Ahsahta Press are presenting one hell of a literary fourthmeal, with Carmen Gimenez Smith, Matthew Cooperman, Lucy Ives, Danniel Schoonebeek, Gillian Conoley, and C. Violet Eaton. They’ll have booze for sale, but you can BYOB. It’s gonna be a hoot and a howl.  

Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28  from 12-2 a.m.
Basement of the Spring Street Center Chapel
1101 15th Avenue

Wave Books & Friends Offsite Reading at Sole Repair
Local press Wave Books unleashes a tour bus full of headliners for this one, including Michael Earl Craig, Gregory Laynor, Rodney Koeneke, Rachel Zucker, Tyehimba Jess, Don Mee Choi, Geoffrey Nutter, Dara Wier, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Brenda Hillman, Matthew Zapruder, Hoa Nguyen, John Beer, Anthony McCann, Eileen Myles, Timothy Donnelly, Dorothea Lasky, and Matthew Rohrer. This reading is at the top of my list for Friday. 

Friday, Feb. 28 from 7–11:45 p.m.
Cost: $5 at the door; subscribers get in free
Sole Repair
1001 East Pike St.

VIDA: Women In Literary Arts – Leave it to VIDA! 
These are the ladies who brought you The Count, and a number of other projects and programs that serve to expose gender inequality in publishing. Join them for readings by Cheryl Strayed, Nick Flynn, Pam Houston, Natalie Diaz, Melissa Febos, Kate Lebo and Alexander Chee.

Friday Feb. 28 starting at 10 p.m.
Cost: $10 minimum donation
Hugo House
1634 11th Ave.

FSG Originals presents Literature Party 2014
This thing is going to be a small press alt-lit crazy-party extravaganza. Special bonus: part of the bar goes to support APRIL, Seattle’s own literary festival phenoms. Enjoy readings from Amelia Gray, Melissa Broder, Sommer Browning. DJs Jon Francois and Christian Science will provide sweet jamz, and a “Giant Video Wall” will be provided by mega-blog HTMLGiant. Vouched Books will also offer a pop up bookstore.

Friday, Feb. 28, doors at 9 p.m.
FRED Wildlife Refuge
127 Boylston Ave E

Gina Frangello, Pam Houston, and Melinda Moustakis
Lay off the sauce for just one second and enjoy some fiction and conversation with these bosses of literary fiction. Moustakis’s collection of stories Bear Down Bear North, Gina Frangello’s novel A Life in Men, and Pam Houston’s entire oeuvre feature tough female characters confronting, among other things, death, sex, and cowboys of all stripes. Should be a romp.  

Saturday, Mar. 1 from 6–7 p.m.
The Project Room
1315 E Pine St. 

Alice Blue + Bloof + Coconut at the Pine Box 
These three exciting and new presses/journals plan to help close out AWP with a number of emerging talents. Hometown hero Amber Nelson will share the stage with Wendy Xu, Nick Sturm, and many others.

Saturday Mar. 1 from 6–9 p.m.
The Pine Box
1600 Melrose Ave.


For more tips, check out “AWP: How to Attend without Really Attending.” 

Photo by Luciano Silva.