Find a complete list of readings and talks in Seattle this summer on our Things To Do calendar.
Yaa Gyasi will read from her epic novel Homegoing, which tells the story of families in Ghana and "The New World" linked across 300 years of time, about which Ta-Nehisi Coates said, "I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task. Homegoing is an inspiration."
A celebration of the spring issue of Poetry Northwest, featuring four local poets who all have poems in the current issue: Elaina Ellis, Rebecca Hoogs, Richard Kenney, and J.W. Marshall.
Seattle Fiction Federation's first reading at the new Hugo House space features Jessica Mooney (APRIL/Seattle Review of Books contest winner), Julie Trimingham (Way Elsewhere), Erika Brumett (Scrap Metal Sky), and SFF#6 winner Crystaline Brown.
Hosted by Alan Chong Lau, this event promises art, music, and poetry, with improvised trombone/didgeridoo by Stuart Dempster, poetry by John Levy with projected drawings by Donald Cole, and moving, emotional, concise poetry by Don Mee Choi.
TIME political correspondent Jay Newton-Small will speak about the power of women in government—from their roles in Washington to the most effective ways to use their voting power—at this talk that's perfectly timed for the 100th anniversary of the election of the first woman to Congress.
Lydia Millett will read from The Sweet Lamb of Heaven, her new thriller novel about a woman taking her six-year-old daughter and escaping from her unfaithful husband, she'll be joined by Stacey Levine.
Mary Roach has written about corpses (her description of severed heads sitting in dog bowls awaiting the steady hands of plastic surgeons will never leave me), shitting in space (look up "fecal decapitation"), orgasms (check out that TEDTalk for info on recipes for semen and ancient Greek orgasm theory), and she does it all with a clear eye and a dry humor. In her latest monosyllabic book of fish-out-of-water pop-sci, called Grunt, Roach turns her attention to the lives of US soldiers. Some of the questions she'll answer, according to press materials: why are zippers dangerous for snipers? how do troops nurse nukes? and what are the benefits of caffeinated meat? The $31.95 ticket admits two and includes one copy of the book. RS
A celebration of United Nations' World Refugee Day, featuring a conversation with community members and activists about Seattle's refugee communities, the world history events from which people sought refuge, and their experiences after arriving in Western Washington.
Hollywood producer and screenwriter Tracy Barone, who brought us a handful of Will Smith vehicles—Ali; Wild, Wild, West; and Men in Black—took a long break from the silver screen and started working on a novel, which eventually became Happy Family. The book's a late-in-life coming-of-age comedy about a cop-turned-academic named Cheri, who discovers a bunch of secrets about her adopted parents as she considers adopting a child of her own. Sounds very hyphenated, but hyphenated can be funny! And I trust anyone who had the foresight to see greatness in Men in Black, which is secretly a very sad and funny blockbuster. Plus, Barone is going to read with Maria Semple. My colleague Christopher Frizzelle called Semple's book, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, "the funniest book ever written about Seattle," so it'll be worth it to hear her new stuff, if she has any. RS
Terry Tempest speaks about her new book, The Hour of Land, about the park system's history and potential future.
Alexis Smith will read from Marrow Island, a futuristic novel that explores the precarious environmental situation of the Pacific Northwest.
Public defenders extraordinaire and dad-fashion icons Dean Strang and Jerry Buting made a permanent home in the nation's hearts when they defended Steven Avery from the prosecutorial sleaziness of Ken Kratz in Netflix's hit true crime show Making a Murderer. A bunch of hot takes published after the show got popular claimed that the people who produced the documentary cherry-picked facts that made Avery seem less guilty than he was portrayed in the doc, but the flames of a million hot takes couldn't out-burn the the intensity of the of clear-eyed, reason-driven and refreshingly skeptical duo. The two lawyers will speak at the Paramount about the current state of the criminal justice system. Hopefully they will tell us there are more people like them in the world of public defense. RS
Learn about refugee communities at this storytelling event presented by the American Red Cross, Muslim Community Resource Center, and Refugee Women's Alliance.
On Juneteenth (the celebration of the day African Americans learned of their emancipation) the Northwest African American Museum will host a panel discussion, during which local nonprofit leaders and political activists will discuss modern-day slavery in the United States: forced labor and sex trafficking.
On Father's Day, Stranger Genius Sherman Alexie will read from his new children's book Thunder Boy Jr., the idea for which, as he recently told Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, came about during his father's funeral in 2003.
You don't hear a lot about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) up here in Washington State, mostly because there are no active fracking sites in the immediate area. Meanwhile, according to the LA Times, last year Oklahoma experienced over 890 earthquakes that measured over 3.0 on the Richter scale. How many earthquakes of the same magnitude did the state ride out in 2009? 20. Same kinda thing is going on in Appalachia, Texas, and in the westernmost Midwest states. When accidents happen, the air and water around the site can become contaminated with poisonous chemicals, and that's not to mention the fact that fracking increases our reliance on fossil fuels, which are contaminating the skies and steadily contributing to the destruction of our planet all the time. BLUH, I say. BLUH. Longtime Activist Winonah Hauter (of Food and Water Watch) will say much more than that, and more convincingly, when she reads from her latest book Frackopoly, which lays out the history of fracking and the many problems it presents. RS
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center director, Dr. Gary Gilliland, speaks about female leadership and success that he has seen at his own organization, and brings together a panel of leading women scientists to speak about gender disparities in the field.
Alain de Botton, who is known for his popular works of philosophy and cultural criticism, reads from his new book, The Course of Love, about a romance in Edinburgh and "what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence."
Joshua L. Reid, a member of the Snohomish tribe and Associate Professor of history and American Indian studies at UW, will read from and sign copies of The Sea is My Country, about the Makah people, a tribal nation on the northwestern point of the Olympic Peninsula.
Notable weirdo and Todd Louiso look-a-like (also actual DJ and respected musician) Moby reads from his memoir Porcelain, a critically acclaimed depiction of his journey from suburban poverty to urban fame, and all the hot goss from the 1980s and 1990s NYC club scene.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Annie Proulx, author of the short story "Brokeback Mountain" that inspired the film, will read from her newest novel, Barkskins, an epic story about the taking down of the world's forests.
Trans woman Scottie Jeanette Madden will speak about her book, In Getting Back to Me: from girl to boy to woman, with her wife, alongside sex, gender, and relationship educator Status Causey.
Writer, humorist, and longtime New Yorker contributor Ian Frazier will read from Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces, which brings together some of the best pieces from his body of work, about topics ranging from feral hogs to the rise of homelessness in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.
Max Porter will read from Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, described by the London Review of Books as "compact and splendid," and a "polyphonic narrative with elements of the prose poem."
One of those lines that all writers know but can't seem to place is the one that goes, "The writer's only job is to never look away." Illustrator and comic artist Seth Goodkind takes up that charge in Don't Look Away, which, according to press materials, is a "a collection of 24 pen and ink portraits and stories of people who have fallen victim to systemically racist legal institutions and their blue-shirt military executors." Goodkind is an artist of many styles. The stuff he draws for the quarterly, comics-only newspaper, Intruder, is often incredibly detailed, dense, and cross-hatchy. The lines he used in the portraits he drew of the authors who read at 2015's APRIL Festival, however, were more liquid and watercolor-y, impressionistic. Whatever the course of his line, he's a versatile and intelligent comic who you should keep an eye on. RS
Over the course of her three-decade-long writing career, Kim Addonizio's work has been consistently funny, formally inventive, sexually positive, philosophically complex, and lyrically tight despite its chatty surface. She can write using received forms without sounding old-fashioned, and you can understand her poems after one or two reads. More reads yield greater depths and insight, of course, but she's not trying to flummox you with elliptical uncertainties. If she brings even an ounce of her talent to her new memoir, Bukowski in a Sundress, that'll be plenty. The book's about drankin', druggin', fuckin', writin', and her relationships with her parents. What else is there? RS
Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, will sign copies of his 2015 graphic novel collaboration with Cameron Stewart, Fight Club 2. This is a ticketed event, and the price includes a hardcover copy of the book.
Journalist and essayist Sloane Crosley reads from The Clasp, her first novel, about "the pitfalls of modern relationships."
When you're talking about a topic as intensely personal as suicide, you want to be talking with an open and honest person who has been there. Preferably one with a sense of humor. Dickman's your man. He's a compelling, dynamic reader, a very funny human being, and an engaging conversationalist. He's also been there. In 2007, his older brother committed suicide. Ever since, and especially in his last book of poems, Mayakovsky's Revolver (W. W. Norton), Matthew Dickman's used his great narrative and lyric skill to write poems that plunge the depths of his own grief and of his brother's consciousness—trying to imagine his brother's state of mind, the room he was in, the last loop of logic he considered before the end. At Hugo House, he'll talk about his brother's suicide and the ways he uses poetry to articulate what can't be articulated about that experience. RS
This book fair doubles as the release party for the 20th and final issue of Intruder—a comics-only newspaper published quarterly and distributed for free in local cafes, comic book shops, and record stores—and the opening of the gallery exhibition of Intruder art. Special guest cartoonist Sammy Harkham will be in attendance today.
Presented by Intiman Theatre Festival and The Hansberry Project, this five-day series features five contemporary plays written by Black women: Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, Sojourner by Mfonsio Udofia, Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield, A Lovely Malfunction by Shontina Vernon, and In Her Own Words, a sampler of work from local writers including Kathya Alexander, Rosalind Bell, Alma Davenport, Nina Foxx, and Storme Webber.
Writing that makes you cringe ("middle school diaries, high school poetry, unsent letters") is displayed with unapologetic hilarity at this Salon of Shame. Every show sells out extremely quickly, but if you can't get tickets, show up at 7 pm on the night of the show to get on the waitlist—cash only. The organizers say you have a 90 percent chance of getting in if you do so.
Created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale is the twice-monthly podcast that presents itself as a news-radio show for a fictional town where all conspiracy theories are true. In style and content, the show blends Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon with David Lynch's Twin Peaks, and the results are deeply weird and beguiling. Tonight, Night Vale comes to life onstage. DAVID SCHMADER
Global celebrity (and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) Malala Yousafzai will begin her summer 2016 US tour with a stop in Seattle. She's likely to speak about her book, I Am Malala, as well as her political, social, and educational initiatives worldwide. Don't miss this chance to see a legend in person.
Shin Yu Pai, a 2014 Stranger Genius Nominee in Literature and current Poet Laureate for the City of Redmond, will give a poetry reading.
Seattle poet Megan Snyder-Camp, who received a 2010 Individual Artist grant from the 4Culture Foundation, celebrates the release of two new books of poetry: Wintering and The Gunnywolf.
This is going to be the sharpest and most delightful academic discussion of the seductive power of poetry you've ever heard. Not that you've necessarily ever heard such a lecture, but there is a sort of general sense among us that poetry is for romantics, that it's a tool a person uses to seduce someone else and not a site of seduction in and of itself. It's hard to make that intellectual leap, though, because you can't really make out with a piece of paper. Ange Mlinko, professor at the University of Florida and poetry editor for The Nation, is perfectly positioned to make the case for the overlap between seduction and multivalence in language. She writes dense, multivalent lyric poems herself, and they're shot through with a lot of Greek allusions. And you KNOW the Greeks were into that seduction shit. Homework before you go: Mlinko's book, Marvelous Things Overheard: Poems, and Anne Carson's book, Eros the Bittersweet. RS
The eighth annual Esoteric Book Conference brings together authors, artists, publishers, and bookmakers from across the world, all of whom are working in the field of esotericism (a word that, perhaps fittingly, is hard to define, but deals with books that are mysterious, and, frequently, spiritual or philosophical). The conference schedule includes presentations from notable authors and scholars, as well as a book fair that will showcase the largest selection of esoteric books under one roof.
Every First Wed
Invented by our own Christopher Frizzelle, the reading party is every first Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. That's when the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel goes quiet and fills with people with books tucked under their arms. (And, occasionally, a Kindle or two.) By 7 p.m., you often can't get a seat. And there's always free music from 6 to 8 pm. Lately, the resident musician has been pianist Paul Matthew Moore. He's amazing.
Every Second Wed
A monthly poetry reading series featuring talented local poets.
Every First Thursday & Third Friday
A live amateur storytelling competition, in which audience members who put their names in a hat are randomly chosen to tell stories on a theme. Local comedians tend to show up, but lots of nonperformers get in on the action as well.