Readings Listings

The Best Readings and Talks in Seattle This Spring

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance
March 2, 2016

Find a complete list of readings and talks in Seattle this spring on our Things To Do calendar.

March 4

recommended Colleen McElroy
Colleen McElroy (poet, novelist, editor and longtime UW professor) will read from her newest work, Blood Memory.
Elliott Bay Book Company

March 6

recommended Shirin Ebadi: Fighting for Human Rights in Iran
Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi will speak about her personal experience with injustice and her current take on the human rights crises in Iran.
Campion Ballroom

recommended A Craft Talk with Susan Orlean
Orlean's been a staff writer for the New Yorker for more than two decades. During her tenure there she's written about many subjects, but primarily and most movingly about relationships between humans and non-humans. Within this realm, she looks deeply into subcultures—pigeon racers, animal actors, taxidermists—and reveals the human-like characteristics of animals and the animal-like characteristics of humans. Oh, and there was that one time when the Academy nominated Meryl Streep for an Oscar after playing Orlean in a Charlie Kaufman-written, Spike Jonze-directed film based on a best-selling book Orlean wrote called The Orchid Thief. Getting down to brass tacks about craft with a writer who's produced work in many genres should benefit writers of all stripes. After that talk, Claire Dederer, Hugo House instructor and author of the New York Times best-selling memoir, Poser, will lead a Q&A. RS
Hugo House

March 12

recommended Daniel Clowes: Patience
Cartoonist and writer Daniel Clowes will sign his newest graphic novel, Patience.
Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery

recommended Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi (named one of Granta's best young British novelists) will read from What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, a book of short stories.
Elliott Bay Book Company

March 15

recommended Design In Depth: The New Regionalism
How will Seattle's growth affect the architecture and design of the city? What will the new norms become? Hear some educated guesses.
Center for Architecture & Design

March 15–20

recommended APRIL Festival
Now in its fifth year, the APRIL Festival (which happens every March!) celebrates the work of small press publishers by throwing innovative, substantive, and boozy book events that you actually want to attend. Aside from their beloved perennial competitive storytelling competition, "A Poet, a Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen," you'll want to make sure to check out "Dear Jenny, We Are All Find: APRIL + Vignettes." For that event, Vignettes picks a handful of local artists to transform nationally acclaimed poet and essayist Jenny Zhang's book of poems into a room full of art. But everything on APRIL's dance card looks pretty solid. David Schmader's live video essay at the Frye is bound to be smart and hilarious, and the "Fireside Chat" with Cedar Sigo at the Sorrento Hotel will delight poetry nerds looking to escape the chilly March winds. The festival closes with a book expo (featuring books from 50+ independent presses) at Hugo House. RS

March 16

recommended A. Igoni Barrett
A. Igoni Barrett (author of Love Is Power, or Something Like That) will read from his newest book, Blackass.
Elliott Bay Book Company

March 17

recommended Irish Wake for Lost Seattle Places
Mourn the lost city of Seattle, all grungy and quirky and gay, at this multidisciplinary arts showcase featuring 19 readings, three musical performances, short films, an art exhibit, and a drag show.

recommended Lauren Weedman: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All
Alumna of the Seattle theater scene and former Daily Show correspondent Lauren Weedman (A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body) will talk intimately about her life in a candid conversation with Dan Savage.
Town Hall

March 21

recommended Janette Sadik-Khan with Mayor Ed Murray: Implementing an "Urban Revolution"
Janette Sadik-Khan, former New York City transportation commissioner, and Mayor Ed Murray will discuss the potential transportation changes in Seattle's future.
Town Hall

March 22

recommended Writers Under the Influence: Octavia Butler
In this literary tribute to a science fiction legend, Nisi Shaw, Vonda N. McIntyre, Gabriel Teodros, Quenton Baker, and Caren Gussoff will honor Octavia Butler's influence with readings, discussions, and more.
Hugo House

March 20-22

recommended National Geographic Live: Rhinos, Rickshaws, and Revolutions
Award-winning photographer Ami Vitale will speak about her travels, personal journeys, and artwork that connects nature to human interest stories.
Benaroya Hall

March 22, May 17

recommended Salon of Shame
Writing that makes you cringe ("middle school diaries, high school poetry, unsent letters") is displayed with unapologetic hilarity.
Theatre Off Jackson

March 23

recommended Complex Exchange: Power | Privilege
City of Seattle organizer Rahwa Habtee, dancer Dani Tirrell, and our own Charles Mudede come together for an evening of conversation in this series dealing with race, power, and the politics of representation as they relate to artistic depictions like those at SAM (Kehinde Wiley) and NAAM (The Harmon & Harriet Kelley Collection). This iteration, the second in the series, will focus on questions of power and privilege.
Seattle Art Museum

recommended Emily St. John Mandel
Emily St. John Mandel (The Singer's Gun, Last Night in Montreal) will talk about the inspiration and making of Station Eleven, a National Book Award-nominated work.
Town Hall

March 26

recommended Tiffany Midge with Chrystos and Storme Webber
Poet Tiffany Midge (Outlaws, Renegades and Saints; Diary of a Mixed-up Halfbreed) will read from her latest collection, The Woman Who Married a Bear. She will be joined by fellow poets Chrystos and Storme Webber.
Elliott Bay Book Company

March 28

recommended Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney will read from her debut novel, The Nest—a book that was the subject of a contentious bidding war that ended with a seven-figure deal from Ecco Press.
Elliott Bay Book Company

March 30

recommended Gary Faigin, Negarra A. Kudumu, and Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes: The Subversive Art of Kehinde Wiley
A panel discussion about the racial, social, and artistic questions that Kehinde Wiley's paintings raise, coinciding with Kehinde's exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. Featured panelists include Gage co-founder Gary Faigin, Frye Museum Education Director Negarra A. Kudumu, and writer, artist, and filmmaker Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes.
Town Hall

April 2

recommended Noriko Manabe
Noriko Manabe will read from The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima, a book about social movements that erupted after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Elliott Bay Book Company

April 4

recommended Rob Spillman
Rob Spillman reads from his new memoir, All Tomorrow's Parties, then gives a talk titled "Editor, Edit Thyself."
Elliott Bay Book Company

April 5

recommended Touré
In addition to his roles as a journalist, a culture critic, a co-host of The Cycle on MSNBC, and an extremely prolific Tweeter, Touré's also the author of Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to Be Black Now. In a recent interview with, he described the term "post-blackness" as a "conception of blackness where the identity options are infinite." He's specifically interested in what the notion of "blackness" signifies within African American communities, and how the concept expresses itself through language, culture, and criticism. His talk, "Microagression: Power, Privilege, and Everyday Life," however, will focus on the everyday racism that people of color endure while just standing on line at the grocery store. RS
Kane Hall, Room 130

April 7

recommended Killer Mike
Killer Mike (rapper, musican, MC, and social activist) will speak about his work, both musical and social/political.
HUB Ballroom

April 10-12

recommended National Geographic Live: I Bought a Rainforest
Join photographer/videographer/artist Charlie Hamilton James in this trek across North America. James is known for immersing himself on set in rural locations.
Benaroya Hall

April 11

recommended Sarah Bakewell: The Modern Applications of Existentialism
Sarah Bakewell will focus on existentialism, looking at its influence on social and political movements and calling for a more pervasive understanding of the philosophy.
Town Hall

April 16

recommended Intruder #19 Release Party
Celebrate the latest (and the next to last!) release of the Intruder, a free comic newspaper, with the artists who created it.

April 19

recommended Pablo Neruda's Lost Poems
When news hit that archivists at the Pablo Neruda Foundation found a box containing 20 previously untranslated poems by the inimitable and amorous Chilean poet, the hearts of may readers did what spring does to the cherry trees. The worry in these kinds of situations is that the poems will be bad, but Seattle civic poet Claudia Castro Luna gave voice to a few of them at the Copper Canyon Christmas party last December, and they hold up quite well—he's still got those surreal turns, those surprising images, and that intoxicating tone of wonder and possibility. At McCaw Hall, Copper Canyon Press will give these poems their full English-language debut. Grab your partner—or, better yet, go stag and lonely—and get ready to bask in the light of Neruda's hidden flowers. RS
McCaw Hall

April 21

recommended Hoa Nguyen: A Bagley Wright Lecture Series Event
Hoa Nguyen will explore the idea of "teaching poetics" and consider the meaning of creative writing studies.
Hugo House

recommended Teju Cole
Seattle Arts & Lectures presents PEN Award-winning writer, art historian, and photographer Teju Cole. His most recent work is a novella called Every Day is for the Thief.
Town Hall

April 25

recommended Chris Hedges: The Algebra of Revolution
In 2002, radical and righteous socialist Chris Hedges won a Pulitzer Prize for covering global terrorism as part of a team working for the New York Times, for whom he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He gave up the Gray Lady to start his own show, Days of Revolt, and to write for Truthdig. His talk, "The Algebra of Revolution," which shares a title with a Marxist anthology from John Rees, cites the rise of domestic terrorists on the right and complacent elites on the left as markers of the end of our capitalist democracy and the beginning of a violent era of messy revolt. If you seek instruction for resistance, then grab your favorite Marcuse paperback and get yourself to Town Hall. RS
Town Hall

May 12

recommended The Source: Martha Rosler
The Source, a trio of springtime waterfront talks on art, ecology, and history, (re)-presents Martha Rosler's Seattle: Hidden Histories (1991): a series of short public service announcements created with local indigenous leaders, linguists, historians, and community members.
Waterfront Space

May 13

recommended Claudia Rankine
It's hard to overstate the impact of Claudia Rankine's work on American poetry over the course of the last five years or so. In 2011, she confronted sometime colleague and fellow poet Tony Hoagland for writing a poem that contained racist sentiments. That poem was called "The Change," and, in many ways, their exchange reinvigorated—or at least brought national attention to—a conversation about race, poetry, and the lack of diversity in the literary world, a conversation that thankfully continues apace today. Citizen: An American Lyric, a collage of images and poems about microaggressions and the limitations of language and the experiences of POCs living in a white supremacist culture, was published in 2014 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. Since the book's release, the first thought that enters my head when I hear news of a police officer gunning down another (and another, and another) unarmed black man comes from this book. She writes: "because white men can't / police their imagination / black men are dying." RS
McCaw Hall

May 15-17

recommended National Geographic Live: Ocean Wild
Photographer Brian Skerry is an expert at capturing shots under the waves, having spent more than 10,000 hours underwater using his camera to portray rare and isolated creatures. Come for his wildlife photography, and stay for the educational material on the wonders of the sea.
Benaroya Hall

May 18

recommended Martha Rosler: Housing Is a Human Right
The Central Library hosts this talk featuring the voices of people affected by Seattle's housing crisis.
Central Library