Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Past Event: Thursday, October 4, 2018

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

Poetry Icon


Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated, prolific writer, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry.

Please note: this event will be held in Benaroya Hall’s S. Mark Taper Auditorium.

Walker’s third and most well-known novel, The Color Purple, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award in 1983, making Walker the first Black woman to win both honors. The Color Purple has since been adapted for the silver screen and the Broadway stage.

Walker’s list of bestsellers also includes The Temple of My Familiar (1989), By the Light of My Father’s Smile (1998), and Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) which was released to great acclaim and controversy for its exploration of the effects of female genital mutilation. Although her work often focuses on gender and sexuality through a feminist lens, Walker considers herself a “Womanist,” a self-coined term that differs from “feminist,” referring instead to “someone who appreciates women’s culture, emotions, and character.” (Poetry Foundation). Walker’s later work includes several meditations on spirituality and current events including Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart (2004) and We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For (2006).

Although Walker dabbled in poetry throughout her career, beginning with her first collection Once in 1968, she returned to the genre in earnest after hearing of the September 11 terrorist attacks. At the time, Walker had taken what she thought was a permanent hiatus from writing, wanting to devote her time to studying Tibetan Buddhism and exploring the Amazon. The tragedy brought her back to writing, and she published her collection Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth in 2003. Her forthcoming book of poems, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, is a timely collection of nearly 70 works of passionate, powerful free verse in both Spanish and English. The collection bears witness to our troubled times, while also chronicling Walker’s well-lived life. From poems of painful self-inquiry, to celebrating the simple beauty of baking frittatas, Walker offers us a window into her magical, at times difficult, and liberating world of activism, love, hope and, above all, gratitude.

Walker’s work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and her books have sold more than fifteen million copies. Along with the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Walker has been awarded fellowships from The Radcliffe Institute, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is the recipient of the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, and the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Walker was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame in her home state of Georgia in 2001, and was one of the first inductees into the California Hall of Fame in The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts in 2006. In 2010, she presented the keynote address at the 11th Annual Steve Biko Lecture at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and she was awarded the LennonOno Peace Grant in Reykjavik, Iceland. Walker donated the award to an orphanage for the children of AIDS victims in East Africa.

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


SAL is for everyone. We want all audience members to be able to experience our lectures and readings regardless of accessibility concerns. Accessibility services at our venues are provided at no cost to ticket holders. If you find you need to sit closer to the stage to accommodate your needs but find the cost of a Patron ticket prohibitive, then please contact us—we will seat you where you need to be, regardless of cost.

Open Captioning occurs at every event that takes place at Benaroya Hall. It is also always available upon request for all events in our other halls, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Assisted Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems, are available at all of our venues, with the exception of Broadway Performance Hall. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

ASL-Interpretated Events are always available upon request, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Wheelchair Accessible Ticketing is available in all sections at our venues, and and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

For any further questions or requests, or to offer Seattle Arts & Lectures feedback on how we can be more accessible and inclusive, please reach out to our Patron Services Manager at or 206.621.2230×10.


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