A Letter from Ruth
May 28, 2020
Last week, it was an honor to hear from Luis Alberto Urrea, who spoke to us from his writing desk, sharing stories of his journey as a writer and even showing us the photos on his desk and the notebooks he has kept since childhood. I’ve been thinking about many things Luis shared, among them that “laughter is the virus that infects us with humanity,” and “if you’ve laughed with someone, you’ll be able to cry with them too.” I think I’ve been turning these words over in my head because we are entering a season of celebrations at SAL, and while it seems like a strange time to celebrate, Urrea’s words have reminded me why celebrations are so important, even and especially now.
Next week, we’re looking forward to Words Matter, our sparkliest event of the year when we gather to make our work in the coming year possible. This week we’re unveiling the extraordinary literary experiences in our auction: from a chance to dine with Karl Marlantes, author of Deep River, to the opportunity to tuck away in the Cougar Room with Maira Kalman and Lisa Congdon, there are opportunities that will delight and inspire you, whatever your favorite books might be. We hope you’ll join us to raise your paddle or bid on an auction item in support of SAL and the year ahead.
Our Writers in the Schools program is also looking forward to year-end celebrations. On June 8, we’ll launch a digital gallery of students reading their work and being interviewed by their WITS Writers-in-Residence. And on June 9, the 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate (YPL), Wei-Wei Lee, will read from her new book, our new Youth Poet Laureate will be crowned, and our new YPL cohort will be announced.
At home I’ve been devouring Free Food for Millionaires, Min Jin Lee’s first novel, and am even more excited for her virtual visit on June 15. If you don’t already have tickets, digital passes are available for her lecture, and her conversation with E.J. Koh will be free and available to all. And the very next day, on June 16, we’ll announce our 2020/21 Season—I very much look forward to sharing with you the authors who will join us in the coming year.
At the close of a fascinating conversation between Urrea and Kristen Millares Young, he noted how universal it is to struggle and to suffer. Of our current moment he said, “What might come out of all this, I’m hoping, is a sense of tenderness toward one another.” At a time when the news is filled with stunning loss of life and we all navigate unprecedented uncertainty, I’m holding Urrea’s words close, and hoping for tenderness indeed.
Here’s to both the laughter and the crying,
SAL Executive Director