Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros

Past Event: Monday, October 27, 2003

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Sponsored by The Starbucks Foundation.

Sandra Cisneros burst onto the literary scene in 1983 with the publication of The House on Mango Street. A series of vignettes told from the perspective of a young girl growing up in Chicago, the book has sold more than two million copies, distinguishing Cisneros as the most widely read Latina author in America.

Born in 1954, Cisneros grew up in Chicago, the child of a Mexican father and a Chicana mother, and sister to six brothers. She was “Daddy’s princess,” she says, and struggled against her father’s traditional vision for his daughter. Her latest novel, Caramelo (2002), began as a short story in which she set out to understand her father and his traditional views more fully. Over nine years, it became not only a way for Cisneros to recapture her own memories, but also a tome of Mexican and American history. The New York Review of Books describes her writing as “vivid… boisterous…playful…a delicious reminder that ‘American’ applies to plenty of territory beyond the borders of the United States.”

Cisneros is the author of three books of fiction: The House on Mango Street (1983), Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991), and Caramelo (2002); three books of poetry: Bad Boys (1980), My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987), and Loose Woman (1994); and Hairs/Pelitos (1994), a children’s book. Her work has been translated into ten languages and published throughout the world. Among her honors are a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and two NEA fellowships. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Excerpt taken from The House on Mango Street (1983)
“Four Skinny Trees”

They are the only ones who understand me. I am the only one who understands them. Four skinny trees with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine. Four who do not belong here but are here. Four raggedy excuses planted by the city. From our room we can hear them, but Nenny just sleeps and doesn’t appreciate these things.

Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep.

Let one forget his reason for being, they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around the other. Keep, keep, keep, trees say when I sleep. They teach.

When I am too sad and too skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew to despise concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose only reason is to be and be.

Selected WorkCaramelo (2002) Hairs/Pelitos (1994)Loose Woman (1994)Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991)My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987)The House on Mango Street (1983)Bad Boys (1980)

LinksSandra Cisneros: Teacher Resource FileCaramelo audio on Salon.comSandra Cisneros: The Academy of American Poets

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.


All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.