Find Connection with the #SALMoment of the Day
March 17, 2020
With our daily lives disrupted, we are all working to finding new forms of togetherness. From balconies, Italians break into song and Spain applauds its healthcare workers. Bookshops hand-deliver to Seattle porches. Local relief funds have opened up for artists and hospitality workers. And we at Seattle Arts & Lectures want to do what we can, in our way, to offer you sustenance and connection during this time.
Because we can’t meet with you in person, each day, we’ll be posting a “SAL Moment” – a moment of digital inspiration around the written and spoken word. We’ll be sharing video and audio footage from our events, new SAL/on air podcast episodes from past readings and talks, online learning—including writing prompts and lesson plans from our WITS Writers-in-Residence for kids and adults—readings from our Youth Poet Laureate cohort, and more.
Although we find ourselves physically apart during this critical time of social distancing, know that Seattle Arts & Lectures and our Writers in the Schools program are working harder than ever to be here for you now and for years to come. While we may be anxious and we may be afraid, this crisis has also reminded us to check in with our most vulnerable communities; that we are a global society that thrives best with solidarity; and that our collective memory and experience—shared through stories, poems, and other artforms—can be a salve.
Our mission is not only realized by our programs on stages and in classrooms—so much happens in that spark between the page and the reader, between one reader and the next. Every day we seek to spark conversation, connection, and belonging through reading and writing. We can still do that—even now. We belong to each other.
You can find your SAL Moment of the day on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using the hashtag #SALMoment, and we will be collecting each one in this blog post, below, in case you miss a day’s message. We hope you’ll share your encounters with reading and writing as well—we’ll highlight as many as we can on our website and across social channels. Do you have ideas for content you’d like us to share? Let us know! We can’t wait to hear from you.
SAL Moment #1
Tuesday, March 17
Every year, SAL’s Writers in the Schools (WITS) program holds the Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest to celebrate the wisdom, creativity, and heart captured in student and teacher writing. The inspiration from this year’s Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest was drawn from Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, an epic historical novel that follows a Korean family over the course of the twentieth century, through both their immigration to Japan, and through the historical, cultural, and familial effects of that legacy felt across generations.
WITS invited applicants to explore similar themes of “legacy”—to examine what legacies have shaped their lives, and to look into the future, to the legacy they hope to impart to the world. The contest was open to all students, grades K-12, attending a WITS partner school during this school year. Today, we are delighted to announce that the student winner of this year’s Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest is Fenet Zeleke, author of the following poem, “They Said.” Read it here.
SAL Moment #2
Wednesday, March 18
— SAL (@SeaArtsLectures) March 19, 2020
SAL Moment #3
Thursday, March 19
Even though we had to postpone Rick Barot’s book launch for The Galleons tonight, he’s here to remind us that it’s the first day of spring with a reading of his poem “The Names.”
SAL Moment #4
Friday, March 20
In 2019, the SAL audience met a man who had 30 years of his life stolen from him. Anthony Ray Hinton’s story is one that hurts to hear, but one we must listen to. In today’s #SALMoment, Hinton reveals the truth about his wrongful conviction in Alabama.
SAL Moment #5
Monday, March 23
Do you have a middle or high-schooler at home looking for learning opportunities? Or, maybe you’d like some inspiration for yourself? Today’s #SALMoment comes from WITS Writer-in-Residence Laura Da’, who shares a writing prompt for when times feel overwhelming. This lesson teaches us to center and focus, to become quiet and still, even though the rest of the world is in turmoil. Click here for her writing prompt, Words and Images to Remember When Times Feel Overwhelming, and watch a video of her lesson below.
SAL Moment #6
Tuesday, March 24
“How do you explain that it’s never inspiration that drives you to tell a story, but rather a combination of anger and clarity?” In our new episode of our podcast, SAL/on air, and for today’s #SALMoment, we share our 2019 lecture and Q&A with Valeria Luiselli, author of Lost Children Archive and Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions. Listen to the episode here.
SAL Moment #7
Wednesday, March 25
Go backstage with the 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate cohort for today’s #SALMoment! Are you a youth poet—or do you know someone who is? Applications for our 2020/2021 Youth Poet Laureate program are open now through April 24. YPL celebrates the work of passionate, engaged young poets, writers, and activists who are using their art to advocate for issues close to their heart. The YPL cohort takes part in workshops and readings throughout the year, and one winner is selected for a year-long mentorship that culminates in a published poetry collection with Poetry Northwest Editions.
SAL Moment #8
Thursday, March 26
“The end is near. Artist going underground,” Naomi Shihab Nye says in the poem “His Love.” But this #SALMoment from her 2019/20 Poetry Series reading is a good reminder that we need community and art more than ever—even if we may all be feeling like we’ve gone underground.
SAL Moment #9
Friday, March 27
Uncertainty is frightening, painful, disruptive. But hearing Ruth Ozeki talk about uncertainty is soothing, curative, resplendent. Today’s #SALMoment reminds us what prizes we can find in unpredictable times. See a our #SALMoment on Instagram, and listen to the entirety of Ozeki’s lecture on lectures.org.
SAL Moment #10
Monday, March 30
Dreamed up by our WITS team as a way to keep students engaged with creative writing outside of schools, we’re excited to present our WITS Writing Bingo Board for today’s #SALMoment! We hope that WITS Writing Bingo is a fun way for you and your loved ones to stay writing and to keep making art during this time.
How does it work? Simply complete the writing challenge for each square, and share it with someone! Prompts include everything from acrostics, to comics, riddles, rituals, odes, and more. Although the challenges were created with younger writers in mind, adults are welcome to play along, too—sometimes, everyone needs a little push to activate their imaginations.
Download your WITS Writing Bingo Board here. For parents and educators encouraging the kids in their lives to play along, we also have certificates to hand out after certain WITS Writing Bingo milestones: completing their first square, for completing a bingo (five squares in a row), or a blackout (finishing the whole board)—you may download the certificates here.
Want to share your progress as you complete squares? Use the hashtag #SALMoment on social media to share your boards (or your original work!). Players with a bingo or a blackout are invited to share their board with email@example.com to be entered into a drawing for a certificate to a local independent bookstore—there will be two drawings, one for adult entrants, and one for entrants ages 18 and under.
SAL Moment #11
Tuesday, March 31
If you’ve read the bestselling memoir Educated, you probably know about Tara Westover’s love of singing. It was a joyous moment of surprise when she closed the evening with a hymn. This #SALMoment, as requested by a follower on social media, takes us back to that SAL stage serenade.
SAL Moment #12
Wednesday, April 1
Today’s #SALMoment is some serious motivation to tackle your “to read” pile. With this illustrated Home Library Reading Challenge, we invite you to envision the possibilities in what you already have on your shelves. “Look no further,” this list tells us, “we have everything we need right here.”
Here’s how the challenge works:
Download the challenge card here. Then, simply search the books you already own for a good fit for each category. As you finish each book, fill in your card with the author and title. Email your completed challenge to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, June 1, to be considered for a drawing to win two free tickets to the SAL event of your choice. You can also submit your completed card by taking a photo of it and tagging us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and including the hashtag #homelibrarychallenge in your post.
SAL Moment #13
Thursday, April 2
Today’s #SALMoment is an original song from Bushwick Book Club member Joy Mills, called “Heart Signals.” Mills wrote this song after reading poet Mary Ruefle’s new book, Dunce. She performed it before Ruefle took the stage on November 21, 2019, and we’re lucky enough to have a studio version to share with you today.
“Heart Signals” brings a new depth and sweetness to Ruefle’s words. The song emphasizes the poet’s knack for drawing magic out of ordinary things and moments.
SAL Moment #14
Friday, April 3
Today, we hear poet Danez Smith reading part of their poem “Genesissy” at their sold-out event last season. It was difficult to choose just one #SALMoment from Smith’s reading to revisit, as it was a favorite of many, including SAL volunteer Kristen Bechtold. Kristen says Smith’s work can evoke “the full range of human emotion in one evening: delight, sorrow, anguish, camaraderie.” Their event left her “with the impression that something within me shifted.”
SAL Moment #15
Monday, April 6
Today’s #SALMoment is a little longer than most. It takes us back to Emily St. John Mandel’s 2016 lecture on her book, Station Eleven. This novel tells the story of a traveling Shakespeare troupe, touring the country in a dystopian future caused by a flu pandemic.
What draws us to post-apocalyptic fiction? St. John Mandel says it’s the question of “Who would you be at the end of the world?” that beckons us. As we digest St. John Mandel’s words again now, we’re filled with a comforting yet “fatalistic kind of hope” about the future. Maybe you can find solace here, too.
SAL Moment #16
Tuesday, April 7
In one of the cleverest interpretations of a Writers in the Schools poem we’ve seen yet, WITS Writer-in-Residence Karen Finneyfrock created this interpretive video from her home with partner Joe Slaby. For today’s #SALMoment, we present “Vine” by Lucy Oprinski, a student at Lafayette Elementary School.
SAL Moment #17
Wednesday, April 8
Today’s #SALMoment is devoted to Terrence McNally, who sadly passed away due to COVID-19 complications on March 24. McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, brought visibility, understanding, humor, and reverence to this often somber world of ours.
Check back every weekday for your #SALMoment!