SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring engaging author talks and readings from over thirty years of Seattle Arts & Lectures' programming.
Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is a literary nonprofit. We champion the literary arts by engaging and inspiring readers and writers of all generations in the greater Puget Sound region.
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Maxine Kumin, whom we lost in 2014, once said that, quote, “The garden has to be attended every day, just as the horses have to be tended to. Not just every day, but morning, noon and night. Writing, I think, exerts the same kind of discipline. I think of myself as a Jewish Calvinist. You know: salvation through grace, grace through good works and working is good, just that simple.”
In this episode, recorded in April of 2005, we hear poems from across Maxine Kumin’s impressive body of work, including her collection Jack and Other New Poems. Acclaimed for her meticulous observation and her mastery of traditional forms, Kumin’s poetry draws comparisons to Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anne Sexton, her longtime friend and collaborator. But her voice defies easy comparisons.
Often reflecting the dailiness of life and death on her New Hampshire horse farm, her powers lay in the unsentimental way she translated personal experience into resonant verse. “The paradoxical freedom of working in form…” as she says in this reading, is that it “gives you permission to say the hard truths.”
As with any condition, until we have language for what we are experiencing, until we can name it, we often feel controlled by it. In January of 2019 Soraya Chemaly renamed and redefined anger for us. In a riveting talk based upon her book, “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger,” Chemaly puts female anger into its societal context, revealing it as a tool of transformation, an untapped resource for change.
Soraya Chemaly is the Executive Director of The Representation Project. An award-winning author and activist, she writes and speaks frequently on topics related to gender norms, inclusivity, social justice, free speech, sexualized violence, and technology. In this illuminating talk and Q&A with journalist Carole Carmichael, Chemaly details the very real ways that women are taught from an early age to control and suppress their anger rather than harness it for change—and the way that this socialization is harmful to women and men, and especially to people of color.
When Barry Lopez died at the age of 75 this past December, we knew we had lost one of the greats. His writings have frequently been compared to those of Henry David Thoreau, as he brought a depth of erudition to the text by immersing himself in his surroundings, deftly integrating his environmental and humanitarian concerns. In his nonfiction, he examined the relationship between human culture and physical landscape. In his fiction, he addressed issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity.
This new episode of SAL/on air was recorded in April of 2010. In it, Barry Lopez speaks about the anthology Home Ground, which Lopez edited along with his wife, Debra Gwartney. The anthology brought together 45 poets and writers to create more than 850 original definitions for words that describe our lands and waters.
Eleven years later, those lands and waters are still under attack, in increasing need of our attention. “Our issue with the land around us,” he says, “is how to rekindle an informing conversation back and forth. And if we hope to develop policies that ensure our children will have a chance at a full life, alive, shaped as much by imagination as by need, we need to listen to what the land around us says.”
“Every generation has to reiterate, rewrite what those genres are and what they mean in the vocabulary of the moment. So the elegy is not a set genre, it's not a set form. We each have to re-write that thing when we write. That's our job, in a way.”—Rick Barot
On May 15, 2020, Rick Barot—the award-winning author of Chord, Want, and The Darker Fall—joined us for a virtual poetry reading in the midst of the pandemic. His latest book of poems, The Galleons (2020), was long-listed for this year’s National Book Award and, in honor of that, we’re pleased to present it to you now.
His reading is introduced by SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs, and then a conversation follows moderated by poet Jane Wong, the author of Overpour from Action Books, and How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, forthcoming from Alice James Books.
Have you ever had a slice of cake that had been soaked in a sort of syrup? Maybe rose-syrup? Maybe lemon? Dense and rich at the same time—soaked in joy—it’s almost not cake anymore. Every one of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems, read at SAL’s May 2018 Poetry Series reading, was like that for us. Dense and light at the same time. Sweet and yet weighty.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of a book of nature essays, World of Wonders, recently named a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction, and four award-winning poetry collections, most recently, Oceanic from Copper Canyon Press. After her reading from Oceanic, a conversation followed between Aimee and Pacific Northwest poet Jane Wong, author of Overpour and the forthcoming How to Not Be Afraid of Everything.
As our annual reading program, Summer Book Bingo wrapped up, we asked readers to reflect on their favorite reading experience of the summer. One of you wrote: “My favorite reading experience was reading So You Want to Talk About Race. It forced me to explore my white privilege and challenged me to really examine the ways I have thought about myself, how I view race.”
Ijeoma Oluo, the author of So You Want to Talk About Race, writes that it was: “A grueling, heart wrenching book to write.” She gives us all a tremendous gift by sharing her personal stories of experiencing the pain and violence of racism at the hands of school systems and police officers, and even friends and loved ones. On January 25, 2018, the Seattle-based Oluo joined us at Benaroya Hall for the launch of what’s become an essential primer on the racial landscape of America. We’re excited to be able to share that talk with you today as the first episode in Season Three of SAL/on air.