A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Become Your Own Curator: Create Your Own Series Recommendations

By Avery Alexander, Public Programs Intern

SAL’s 2024/25 Season is shaping up to be something spectacular. To make sure you get the most out of our events, we offer a number of different subscriptions, including our flexible 4-Part and 6-Part Create Your Own Series, which allow you to choose four or six events of your choice. Both are available for streaming or in-person options, and both are a great way to get a sampling of the eclectic and enriching events that SAL has to offer this coming season.

However, choice is a double-edged sword. With so much freedom to customize your own SAL experience, deciding which events you want most out of a season of twenty-five might seem a bit overwhelming. Or, if you’re anything like me, you aren’t intimately familiar with every speaker on our roster. That, too, might be a stopping point for deciding exactly which events to pick.

Hopefully this list of nine upcoming season’s speakers, selected by me, will familiarize you with some of our events and make your decision a little less daunting—whether you’re a film buff, overcoming a heartbreak, concerned about the future of AI, in need of more queer romance, or just a big fan of fungi.

Connie Chung (Sep 24)

For people interested in television journalism:

Connie Chung is a cultural icon. So iconic, in fact, that she inspired a naming trend among Chinese immigrants starting in the 70s. She has made a long and lasting impact on the journalism industry, and her memoir, Connie, is a chronicle of her career as a pioneer news anchor and reporter. If you’re interested to hear about how this powerful living legend made history and revolutionized her industry, this is the SAL event for you.

Sandra Cisneros (Oct 8)

For those who want to revisit a childhood favorite:

If you’ve taken a high school English class in the past few decades, you have likely read this author’s 1984 smash hit The House On Mango Street. In the years since the novel’s release, Cisneros has become a cornerstone of American literature, known for her distinctive style and form. Her other works are equally powerful, including her most recent poetry collection, Woman Without Shame, which is a meditation on Cisernos’ experiences as a woman artist.

Casey McQuiston (Oct 31)

For anyone who wants more queer romance in their lives:

If you read new adult literature, you’ve likely at least heard of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue. Their new book, which they will discuss at the event (and which you would receive as part of your subscription), is true to McQuiston’s form—a compelling queer love story with drama and globetrotting and serious romantic tension. This is a great chance to support queer literature, so come and seize the opportunity! Also, if you don’t have any Halloween plans, this is the perfect event for you. Come in a costume if you’d like, and spend the holiday with fellow book nerds.

Audrey Tang (Feb 12)

For people concerned about the future of technology and AI:

I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to technology—I can work my way around a laptop, but I’m no expert—but even I can tell that Audrey Tang is doing some very interesting work. She served as the first Minister of Digital Affairs in Taiwan, and has been heralded as one of the greatest Taiwanese computing personalities. Not only was she the youngest minister without portfolio in Taiwanese history, but she was also the first transgender person to serve in the top executive cabinet. Tang started as an activist hacker and that spirit translated to her political career, as well as her work now. If you’re interested in learning more about how tech—and, in particular, AI—interacts with society and democracy, even if you’re like me and know next to nothing, this is one event you need to see.

Maggie Smith (Feb 27)

For the reader who wants to learn to overcome heartbreak:

This author gained serious traction in 2016 when her poem “Good Bones” went viral, and then she offered the world a vulnerable look into her personal life with her 2023 memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful. The book explores the end of her marriage and the birth of her new life in the aftermath of divorce. She portrays her journey with unflinching honesty, and while it is very specific in pertaining to her experiences, readers will be able to walk away from the book with a deeper understanding of life, gender roles, and heartbreak. If you’re going through your own heartbreak, healing from one, or are simply interested in hearing Smith’s interesting perspectives on life, make sure to add this to your series.

Natasha Lyonne (Mar 11)

For the film buffs:

Natasha Lyonne is known for a lot of things. She’s an actor, director, producer, and a writer. She’s won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and has been nominated for five Emmys and two Golden Globes. She is known for her work on Orange Is the New Black, Russian Doll, and much more (including my personal favorite, But I’m a Cheerleader. It’s not hard to see that she has made her mark on Hollywood and television, and she continues to make history. So, anyone who is into the film industry would be remiss to miss the chance to hear her engage in a dialogue about her illustrious career.

Emma Donoghue (Mar 28)

For those into historical novels:

To say that Emma Donoghue is a historical writer would be like saying the Milky Way is the only galaxy in the universe. That is to say: Donoghue is so much more than one genre. She is eclectic, unafraid to write what she wants, when she wants. Personally, I know her for her breathtaking novel Room, which received a critically acclaimed film adaptation in 2015. However, her upcoming novel The Paris Express is different. It is about an infamous 1895 disaster at the Paris Montparnasse train station and has already been praised as superb and “soul stirring” (Oprah Daily). If that piques your interest, you will receive a copy of the book if you add this event to your series, and it definitely sounds like the sort of historical fiction that will shake up the genre in the best way possible, in a way only Donoghue can do.

Kate Sweeney

Hanif Abdurraqib (Apr 9)

For the basketball aficionado: 

I’m not sporty, but I definitely feel like there aren’t enough books about sports out there. Hanif Abdurraqib writes about race, history, music, and now, basketball. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, during a golden age of basketball, witnessing the emergence of icons like LeBron James in real-time. This upbringing, at the center of basketball, directly inspired his most recent book There’s Always This Year. The memoir-style account is classic Abdurraqib, and will surely stir the heart of anyone who understands what it feels like to love a sport (or anything else, for that matter).

Merlin Sheldrake (May 21)

For people who like mushrooms (I know you’re out there!):

Merlin Sheldrake is the kind of person who I wish I had as a science teacher in school. The love he has for his work is palpable, and the way he talks about mushrooms, ecology, microbiology, and plant sciences will turn anyone into a passionate science fan. Also, if you’re already interested, or even an expert, in these topics, then Sheldrake will certainly appeal to your sensibilities. Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life centers on fungi and all of the ways they make life on Earth possible. Personally, I love mushrooms, and I know I’m not alone in that. Why not add this event to your series and learn more about these interesting little organisms?

Avery Alexander (she/her) is this year’s Seattle Arts & Lectures Public Program Intern. She is currently getting her master’s degree in library and information sciences at The University of Washington. She spends her time reading, writing, and playing video games.

Posted in 2024/25 Season