Art and Performance

The Best Readings & Talks in Seattle This Winter

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance
December 9, 2015

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

Dec 9

recommended Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter: Budget Matters 2015 Summit
Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter, will deliver the keynote speech at the Budget Matters 2015 Summit. Acknowledging the interconnected nature of our economic and social future, this summit will explore the potential trajectory of Washington State in the coming years. With a number of community leaders contributing, the event looks quite promising in terms of productive discussion. (Plus, after the Bernie debacle, the exchange between white Seattle and #BlackLivesMatter will be a necessary and interesting conversation to follow.)
Benaroya Hall

recommended Tess Gallagher
Tess Gallagher gives a talk about the reissued and new version of the novel Beginners, written by her late husband, Raymond Carver.
Elliott Bay Book Company

Dec 10

recommended Seattle Human Rights Day with Keynote Speaker Kimberlé Crenshaw
Celebrate Seattle Human Rights Day in the Great Hall with Black Lives Matter and Kimberlé Crenshaw (scholar, professor, and active voice in the conversation about contemporary race issues) as she delivers a keynote speech. Registration is encouraged but not required.
Town Hall

Dec 11

recommended Design Lecture Series: Paula Scher with April Greiman
Paula Scher, accomplished in typography, design, and rebranding, will speak in the Design Lecture Series at the Seattle Public Library. She'll then sit down for a discussion with April Greiman, an artist considered to have pioneered both the "New Wave" design style and the use of computer technology in design.
Central Library

Dec 12

recommended Finnegans Wake Chapter 2
Neal Kosaly-Meyer performs the dubious task of reciting Chapter 2 of James Joyce's abstract masterpiece Finnegans Wake from memory.
Chapel Performance Space

Dec 16

recommended Conversations with Curators: Crossed Paths with Chiyo Ishikawa
Chiyo Ishikawa is SAM's deputy director and the museum's curator of European sculpture and painting. She is also a terrific resource and a gem of a human. So you'd want to go to hear her talk even if her subject didn't sound interesting. But it does: "What were World War II's effects on works from the European collection?" Find out with Chiyo. JEN GRAVES
Seattle Art Museum

Dec 20

recommended Sarah Galvin and David Schmader
In her latest book, author and poet Sarah Galvin interviews and recounts the stories of 23 couples—the majority of them seriously committed for more than a decade—whose weddings followed shortly after the legalization of same-sex marriage. Were you to judge it by its cover, you might think that Best Party of Our Lives runs the risk of reducing a monumental historical moment to a household accessory. The subtitle, "Stories of Gay Weddings and True Love to Inspire Us All," doesn't help. But Galvin is a writer you can't stop reading, which makes the whole project more interesting than it appears. She manages to estrange the bathroom book format by pulling out deeply weird facts about her subjects and peppering the writing with lines like "I served enough champagne to fill a Cadillac and enough hors d'oeuvres to bury one." I'd happily pay $50 for that line and many others in this book. After the reading, Galvin will be joined by the beloved David Shmader for a Q&A. (There is a very, very vague promise of wedding cake.) RS
Hugo House

Jan 7

recommended Ishmael Butler (Shabazz Palaces) and Nep Sidhu
An artist talk from Ishmael Butler, a Grammy-winning (and Stranger Genius Award-winning) rapper and producer of Shabazz Palaces, and Nep Sidhu, an ambitious conceptual artist.
Frye Art Museum

Jan 13

recommended Kara Platoni: Making Sense of Human Perception
Our wetware's glitchy. When you stick a pencil in water, it looks broken. When you smell sunscreen, you remember your summer fling. When you remember that person removing their sunglasses and offering you a Corona, maybe you feel gut-punched by an absent fist. Why? What's "real"? In her debut collection of reports, We Have the Technology, Kara Platoni asks scientists about our senses, looking for answers to questions about how we perceive reality through our seers and hearers and feelers. She also talks with people who are working to tweak our sensory organs, to make eyes that can see a wider spectrum, ears that can hear what dogs hear. RS
Town Hall

recommended Nick Licata: Take Power, Become a Citizen Activist
Local figure and longtime city council member Nick Licata will speak about his book, Becoming a Citizen Activist: Stories, Strategies, and Advice for Changing Our World, and talk candidly about achieving social-activism goals.
Town Hall

Jan 21

recommended Anita Sarkeesian
Sarkeesian created, a platform she uses to analyze sexism in the culture at large, paying special attention to video games. For her hard work on this issue she endured rape threats, death threats, and doxing during 2014's Gamergate, a controversy led by anonymous misogynists who considered her critiques unfair. Despite near constant harassment, she still travels and gives lectures, like the one she plans to give in Bellevue, titled "I'll Make a Man Out of You: Redefining Strong Female Characters." RS
Meydenbauer Center

Jan 22

recommended Inside RadioLab with Robert Krulwich
Only about half of Americans have ever heard of podcasts, according to the Pew Research Center, and only 17 percent have ever listened to one, which is a shame, because it's where some of the best storytelling in the world is happening right now. And Radiolab is among the best. On each episode of Radiolab, the hosts go through the process of learning about a compelling topic as the show unfolds, rather than the usual journalistic process of understanding everything about a topic before explaining it. "It' odd way to go about the news," Krulwich told me, when he was kind enough to return my call at 11 p.m. on a Saturday to talk about his work for an hour. Krulwich will be bringing this "odd way" to the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts in Tacoma on January 22, with a live show called Inside Radiolab that promises insight into "what makes their work examining big questions in science, philosophy, and the human experience so compelling." Also advertised are interviews with local science specialists and dignitaries, and although I don't know what a local science dignitary is, I cannot wait to find out. MATT BAUME
Pantages Theater

Jan 24

recommended National Geographic Live - Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous
Hear the story of the young paleontologist who made sure that Spinosaurus, a dinosaur bigger than the T-Rex, didn't disappear in the records of history.
Benaroya Hall

Jan 26

recommended Six Pack Series
The folks over at Washington Ensemble Theater organize this quarterly-ish variety show around a theme. A brief list of previous themes will give you an idea of how funny and moving and politically engaged these performances tend to be. "Too Drunk to Fuck" was an early one. Another was "Too Feminist to Come Up with a Name That Respects All Intersectional Minorities While Still Remaining Irreverent and Funny." The directive for this installment of the series is "Shut the Fuck Up! We Need to Talk About Race!" Special guest hosts Malika Oyetimein and Hazel Lozano will present six artists, all of whom will perform pieces related to the concept of race. Beer and booze available at the bar. RS
12th Avenue Arts

recommended Sunil Yapa
Sunil Yapa reads from his new novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, a book embedded in Seattle geography and the WTO protests.
Elliott Bay Book Company

Jan 28

recommended Word Works: Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson (whose 2011 book of art and cultural criticism, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) talks about perspective in autobiography, specifically focusing on the abstract idea of the "writing body."
Hugo House

recommended Geraldine Brooks
Best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks is a master of building on and adapting existing stories to make new narratives...whether she's writing detailed, heavily researched historical fiction, exploring the lives of her childhood pen pals, or filling out the life of the absent father in Little Women. In this reading, presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures, Brooks will read from her newest novel, The Secret Chord, based on the life of the Bible's King David.
McCaw Hall

Feb 4

recommended Darryl Pinckney
Darryl Pinckney, author of Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy, comes by Elliott Bay to discuss his new book, Black Deutschland. Pinckney is a leading figure in both the fields of literature and political commentary, and has provided a nuanced and engaged take on the contemporary representation, identity, and reception of black people in the United States. Thanks to Pinckney's prowess as a playwright and poet, even his densest and most complicated social analysis is a joy to read.
Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 5

recommended Anastacia Tolbert and Cave Canem
Anastacia Tolbert joins other members of the African American poetry group for this reading.
Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 10

recommended Amber Tamblyn
The actress (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and poet appears with her mother, Bonnie Tamblyn, to present a night of storytelling through music, poetry, and singing. Amber has reached some critical acclaim, with writer and professor Roxane Gay blurbing her new poetry collection, Dark Sparkler.
Town Hall

recommended K. Tsianina Lomawaima
The ongoing plunder of Native American people extends far beyond the realm of US sports teams, as K. Tsianina Lomawaima can tell you. She's devoted her academic career to discussing educational inequities that the US perpetuates through policy, and also relationships between citizenship and sovereignty. Still. We live in a country where, to put it too mildly, beefheaded genocide-apologists shout themselves hoarse proclaiming "HTTR (Hail to the Redskins)!" in an effort to preserve "tradition," as they see it. In her talk, "More Than Mascots! Less Than Citizens? American Indians Talk: Why Isn't the US Listening?" the former UW professor and current prof of justice and social inquiry at Arizona State University might offer a few insights into that misguided worldview. RS
Kane Hall

Feb 12

recommended Hugo Literary Series: D.A. Powell, Heidi Julavits, Sierra Nelson, and OCnotes
Award-winning poet D.A. Powell (Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys and Repast: Tea, Lunch & Cocktails) joins Heidi Julavits of The Believer and poet/performer Sierra Nelson for this iteration of Hugo House's literary series on the topic of "What Goes Around Comes Around."
Hugo House

Feb 16

recommended School of Drama Lecture Series: Revisiting the New-ness of "New Drama"
What does "new drama" mean? Find out from scholars, theater artists, and administrators in this annual event put on by UW Drama.
Jones Playhouse

Feb 18

recommended Alexander Chee
Alexander Chee (essayist, poet, reviewer, novelist) comes to Hugo House to talk about his newest novel, The Queen of the Night, set in Paris.
Hugo House

recommended A.O. Scott
Renowned New York Times film critic A.O. Scott comes to Elliott Bay to discuss Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth, his meta-analysis of the importance of art writing today.
Elliott Bay Book Company

Feb 21

recommended National Geographic Live - Gorongosa Reborn: A Cameraman's Journal
Have you ever wanted to visit an African wildlife park? Now's your chance, minus the long flight...and best of all, professional photographer Bob Poole will show you around.
Benaroya Hall

Feb 23

recommended Charles M. Payne
The University of Chicago professor in the School of Social Service Administration gives a talk called "Doing Race Better: Race and the Reform of Urban Schools." He will argue the ways that racial dynamics shape urban schools and school systems.
Kane Hall

Feb 25

recommended we do it to one another
Tracy K. Smith is the knockout poet who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry Life on Mars in 2011. Life on Mars is apocalyptic and erudite, a body of poetry wearing a nonfiction jacket. ("These were the Reagan years,/ When we lived with our finger on The Button and struggled/ To view our enemies as children.") Cellist Joshua Roman is the knockout cellist who was commissioned to turn the book into a song cycle; he called it we do it to one another. Soprano Jessica Rivera (conducted by Roman himself) will perform; then Smith and Roman will sit and talk to each other about the creative process, music, and poetry. JG
Town Hall

Every First Wednesday

recommended Silent Reading Party
Invented by Stranger editor in chief Christopher Frizzelle, the reading party is every first Wednesday of the month at 6 pm. 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 pm, you often can't get a seat. And there's always free music from 6 to 8 pm. Lately, the resident musician is pianist Paul Matthew Moore. He's amazing.
Sorrento Hotel

Every Second Wednesday

recommended Beacon Bards Poetry Reading Series
A monthly poetry reading series featuring talented local poets.
The Station

Every First THURSDAY

recommended Seattle StorySLAM
A live amateur storytelling competition, hosted by Lindy West, 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.
Fremont Abbey Arts Center

Every Third FRIDAY

recommended Seattle StorySLAM
A live amateur storytelling competition, much like The Moth, hosted by Lindy West, in which audience members who put their names in a hat are randomly chosen to tell stories on a theme.
St. Mark's Cathedral