A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Find Connection with the #SALMoment of the Day

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 (FacebookTwitterInstagram) 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


SAL Moment #2
Wednesday, March 18

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.



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


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 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 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.

Get the track


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.


SAL Moment #18
Thursday, April 9

Ross Gay holds a book with left hand and reaches towards audience with right hand

For today’s #SALMoment, we’re sharing Ross Gay’s 2016/17 Poetry Series reading on the latest episode of SAL/on air, our podcast for book lovers. Click the button below to give it a listen, or find it on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Besides being a disciple of joy, Ross Gay is a gardener, a painter, a professor, a basketball player, and a founding member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a free-fruit-for-all non-profit focused on food, justice, and joy. Gay is also the author of three collections of poetry. The title poem in his most recent, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, is a long piece which, he told the Los Angeles Times, was begun as a “way to publicly imagine what it means for a person to be adamantly in love with his life. I wanted to realize joy as a fundamental aspect of our lives and practice it as a discipline.” This is the perfect podcast to help you find a little joy in your day!



SAL Moment #19
Friday, April 10

In this #SALMoment, watch a montage of WITS students and members of our YPL cohort step up to the mic to present their powerful voices at recent SAL events.

With schools closed, SAL has the chance to provide critical support to kids and their teachers right now, and we need your help. If you are able, please consider making a special gift as part of our Stepping Up Together campaign to ensure that our Writers in the Schools program can provide teachers with engaging online writing lessons that meet state language arts standards, especially for schools serving many low-income families. Learn more by clicking the button below!

Stepping Up Together

SAL Moment #20
Monday, April 13

In this #SALMoment from May 2019, An American Marriage author Tayari Jones talks about the unreasonable impulse of being a writer—and she gives some love to Seattle’s independent bookstore scene.


SAL Moment #21
Tuesday, April 14

To honor a book tour cut short by a pandemic, we present a poem from Utah State Poet Laureate (and former Seattleite) Paisley Rekdal as today’s #SALMoment. Rekdal, who recently published Nightingale (Copper Canyon Press), read for our Poetry Series in February. Her poetry blazed with the same strength as her red satin suit that night. This poem, the last she shared with us, talks about the mortality of love as the thing that separates us from the deities. You can listen to Rekdal’s full reading, recorded by KUOW Speaker’s Forum, here.


SAL Moment #22
Wednesday, April 15

When Anthony Doerr joined us in 2015, we left a copy of our most recent WITS Anthology in his green room. Doerr enjoyed the student work he found inside & shared a poem on stage, much to our delight, and the audience’s. This is Doerr reading an exquisite poem from the WITS Anthology. This is a #SALMoment of ridiculousness, irony, and the beautiful unpredictability of life. Thank you Anthony Doerr, and thank you, WITS program, for creating a space for imagination, expression, and lightheartedness.


SAL Moment #23
Thursday, April 16

Comedian, actress, and author Phoebe Robinson visited us last October as part of SAL Presents. Today’s #SALMoment is one that could only happen at a live event. After spotting a sign in the audience advertising rosé, Robinson invited the fan on stage to receive the gift & give a hug in return. Both women were incredibly overjoyed. And why shouldn’t they be? One got free wine and the other got to meet one of her heroes.


SAL Moment #24
Friday, April 17

Today’s #SALMoment is a twofer! WITS Writer-in-Residence Raúl Sánchez reads a poem by Evergreen High student Marta Juárez-Aguilar, titled “El Amar y El Querer.” (Read it on the SAL blog here.) Then, Raúl reads his own poem inspired by social distancing, titled “Our Lives Suspended Until Further Notice.”


SAL Moment #25
Monday, April 20

This #SALMoment is really an invitation. We invite you to write a brief, 10-line poem that illuminates something you’ve found comfort in during this time. To start us off, we’re sharing this poem by our SAL Board member, Conner. Want us to feature your poem? Send it to us at


SAL Moment #26
Tuesday, April 21

Working from home with kiddos underfoot is no easy task. How about a diversion for today’s #SALMoment? In this lesson, WITS Writer-in-Residence Jeanine Walker teaches young students to transform household objects into pure poetry with the power of metaphor.


SAL Moment #27
Wednesday, April 22

For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and for today’s #SALMoment, Sam Howe Verhovek spoke to one of the best climate change journalists working today—Elizabeth Kolbert—about what we need to do to make sure there’s anything left of our planet’s amazing biodiversity for the 100th anniversary of Earth Day.

Miss the lecture? We invite you to watch Elizabeth and Sam’s 45-minute Q&A from last night here, which we’re delighted to share for free!


SAL Moment #28
Thursday, April 23

Book Bingo square with "nature" in center and bird in upper left corner

Yesterday was #EarthDay, so for today’s #SALMoment and for our #BookBingoNW2020 category reveal, it’s only natural for us to reveal the Nature square! From “Braiding Sweetgrass” to “Underland,” here are some of the SAL staff’s favorite reads for your Nature category. Plus, see what our friends at The Seattle Public Library are recommending.


SAL Moment #29
Friday, April 24

Tomorrow would have been SAL’s favorite holiday—Independent Bookstore Day! While we’re sad to not be driving around in a van to all of our favorite bookstores buying all the books, we’re so happy to come together in this way to support our bookstores in their Community Reads event: a celebration of Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights. Ross appeared in the SAL Poetry Series in February 2017 and read many of the yet-to-be-published delights. (You can hear the event on SAL’s podcast, SAL/on air). Today’s #SALMoment features our Poetry Series host, Rebecca Hoogs, reading an excerpt from one of her favorite delights that Ross read that night, “The High-Five from Strangers, Etc.”


SAL Moment #30
Monday, April 27

This #SALMoment features Youth Poet Laureate cohort member Da’Sund Fiir Heller’s original poem, “Shadow of the Mississippi,” which he read before Anthony Ray Hinton’s event with us last season. Read and share this poem here!


SAL Moment #31
Tuesday, April 28

We’re closing out National Poetry Month by sharing poems straight from our home libraries! In this #SALMoment, Sarah, our Events & Corporate Giving Manager, reads you “For the Children” by Gary Snyder: “To climb these coming crests / one word to you, to / you and your children.”


SAL Moment #32
Thursday, April 30

Did you miss our first-ever digital edition of Local Voices on Monday? For today’s #SALMoment, watch excerpts from a few of the powerful pieces that were read that evening by WITS Writers-in-Residence Jeanine Walker, Laura Da’, Kathleen Flenniken, Shelby Handler, Corinne Manning, and Jay Thompson. Be sure to tune in to our final Local Voices of the year on May 12 at 6:00 p.m. Details here.


SAL Moment #33
Wednesday, May 6

We’re so honored to present Amy Wheeler, outgoing Executive Director of Hedgebrook, and Books to Prisoners as the seventh annual Prowda Literary Champions. Their vital work sustains our community of readers and writers, and opens our minds to new ideas and possibilities to create a more just and compassionate world. We hope you’ll join us in supporting them both by making a #GiveBIG gift today, on May 6th: you can donate to Hedgebrook here, and donate to Books to Prisoners here.


SAL Moment #34
Monday, May 11

In this #SALMoment, award-winning children’s author Clare Hodgson Meeker shares with us a video lesson and writing prompt that is perfect for any youngster curious about the natural world. Clare enjoys reading and writing about the survival of endangered animals and can teach your kids to do the same!

Clare’s lesson is drawn from her latest book, Growing Up Gorilla, which tells the story of how a team of humans nurtured and saved a gorilla family—it was recently named a 2020 Bank Street Book of the Year in the STEM category. Find out more at, and watch the book trailer here.


Check back every week for your #SALMoment!

Posted in CreativitySpecial EventsWriters in the SchoolsYouth Poet Laureate2019/20 Season