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SAL/on air

SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring the best author talks from over thirty-five years of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ programming.

Season Four

Youth Poet Laureate: Mateo Acuña

In this episode of SAL/on air, two poets from SAL’s Youth Poetry Fellowship, Mateo Acuña and Aamina Mughal, talk about access to arts education, finding community in Seattle’s literary scene, and about Mateo’s forthcoming chapbook, “Dear Spanish.” Published by Poetry Northwest Editions, “Dear Spanish” is an inquiry into identity, desire, and belonging to one’s self.

James Tate

For James Tate, comedy and tragedy are inextricably linked within poetry. They appear as dual facets of ordinary life—the mundane and the extraordinary as one. As you’ll hear in this recording from February 2003, this is laugh-out-loud poetry that wanders from the baseball field to the petting zoo and back home. And yet, after the […]

Barbara Kingsolver

Recorded October 16, 2023

The works of Barbara Kingsolver have shaped a generation of readers. From her first novel The Bean Trees and beyond, Kingsolver’s characters speak to us, cradle our faces in their hands and exchange their hearts for ours. We were thrilled to welcome Kingsolver back to SAL in October 2023 for a discussion of her Pulitzer […]

Dean Young

Recorded October 2, 2012

When Dean Young took the stage in October of 2012 to read from his Copper Canyon Press collection, Bender, we were incredibly fortunate to bear witness to his humorous, irreverent, and fearless poetry. We were deeply saddened to hear of his passing in August 2022, and we continue to treasure his voice as it lives […]

Sandra Cisneros

Recorded October 27, 2003

In October of 2003, Sandra Cisneros joined us for an evening 20 years after the publication of her luminous work The House on Mango Street. Now, we have the chance to listen again with reverence, 40 years after that seminal book first came into our lives, and we are reminded more than ever of the […]

Malcolm Gladwell

Recorded September 23, 2019

In September 2019, Malcolm Gladwell stepped on stage at Benaroya Hall as part of SAL’s Literary Arts Series to discuss his book Talking to Strangers. That night, his talk brought us into the complicated layers that underlie our most fraught and violent interactions. The Los Angeles Times called Talking to Strangers “a compelling, conversation-starting read.” It’s a […]

Amor Towles

Recorded November 12, 2019

In A Gentleman in Moscow, the subject of Amor Towles’ 2019 SAL lecture, the ever-charming Count Rostov says, “By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every […]

Season Three

Richard Powers

Recorded March 5, 2008

Richard Powers’ characters are often both artists and scientists—disciplines he sees as intertwined. In a delicious moment in this March 2008 reading, he describes the commonality between art and science as a state of “bewilderment,” which happens to be the title of his new book, released thirteen years later in September 2021. A story that […]

Dean Baquet, Timothy Egan, & Jim Rainey

Recorded March 5, 2019

In this new episode of SAL/on air, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, and Jim Rainey, an award-winning reporter with the Los Angeles Times, spoke with hometown hero Timothy Egan in March of 2019 about the importance of investigative journalism and the path forward for media in this political era. These […]

Rita Dove

Recorded May 13, 2010

In this episode of SAL/on air, former U. S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove shares poems from Sonata Mulattica. This collection tells the story of George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower. Previously a footnote in Beethoven’s biography—the composer dedicated a sonata to Bridgetower, then renamed it after the two fell out over a woman—Bridgetower disappeared from history. In […]

Adam Zagajewski

Recorded March 21, 2001

This reading by Adam Zagajewski, recorded in March 2001, was postponed from its original date by the forces of Mother Nature. On February 28, 2001, the Nisqually Earthquake struck. In wry form, Zagajewski banters about the interplay between reality and poetry, life and art. He notes thematic links between his book Tremor, his poem “Lava,” […]

Wallace Stegner

Recorded November 28, 1990

This talk by celebrated novelist Wallace Stegner, recorded in 1990, is really a master class on the intermingling of life and art. With equal measures of charm and critique, Stegner questions the very nature of storytelling: is it method, perspective, experience, or technique? The writers he admires aren’t carpenters working from blueprints, he says, but […]

Imbolo Mbue

Recorded June 7, 2019

“I live in a space between,” Imbolo Mbue says in this talk. “It is the immigrant’s burden to live with the body in one place, and the heart in another.” In this episode, recorded on June 7, 2019, at Town Hall Seattle, Imbolo Mbue describes how her in-between began in Cameroon, where she was born, […]

Maxine Kumin

Recorded April 11, 2005

Maxine Kumin, whom we lost in 2014, once said that, quote, “The garden has to be attended every day, just as the horses have to be tended to. Not just every day, but morning, noon and night. Writing, I think, exerts the same kind of discipline. I think of myself as a Jewish Calvinist. You […]

Soraya Chemaly

Recorded January 31, 2019

As with any condition, until we have language for what we are experiencing, until we can name it, we often feel controlled by it. In January of 2019, Soraya Chemaly renamed and redefined anger for us. In a riveting talk based upon her book, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger, Chemaly puts female […]

Barry Lopez

Recorded April 7, 2010

When Barry Lopez died at the age of 75 this past December, we knew we had lost one of the greats. His writings have frequently been compared to those of Henry David Thoreau, as he brought a depth of erudition to the text by immersing himself in his surroundings, deftly integrating his environmental and humanitarian […]

Rick Barot, dressed in a grey striped sweater, stand with arms crossed, leaning against a concrete wall

Rick Barot

Recorded May 15, 2020

“Every generation has to reiterate, rewrite what those genres are and what they mean in the vocabulary of the moment. So the elegy is not a set genre, it’s not a set form. We each have to re-write that thing when we write. That’s our job, in a way.”—Rick Barot On May 15, 2020, Rick […]

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Recorded May 21, 2018

Have you ever had a slice of cake that had been soaked in a sort of syrup? Maybe rose-syrup? Maybe lemon? Dense and rich at the same time—soaked in joy—it’s almost not cake anymore. Every one of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems, read at SAL’s May 2018 Poetry Series reading, was like that for us. Dense and […]

Ijeoma Oluo

Recorded January 25, 2018

As our annual reading program, Summer Book Bingo wrapped up, we asked readers to reflect on their favorite reading experience of the summer. One of you wrote: “My favorite reading experience was reading So You Want to Talk About Race. It forced me to explore my white privilege and challenged me to really examine the […]

Season Two

Jericho Brown

Recorded May 21, 2019

Almost exactly a year ago, on May 21, 2019, we closed our Poetry Series with a reading by Jericho Brown, followed by a conversation with Copper Canyon editor and poet Elaina Ellis. It was a riveting and joy-filled evening in celebration of Jericho’s third book, The Tradition. That book went on to win the Pulitzer […]

Eavan Boland

Recorded March 3, 2008

Four weeks after her passing in her hometown of Dublin, we want to celebrate the ways Eavan Boland drew up a new science of cartography for Irish poetry: one that included women in their everyday lives—one that depicted children, the routines of the suburbs, marriage—and then that radically laid this map over received ideas about Irish […]

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

Ross Gay

Recorded February 7, 2017

In a time like this, where do you look to for joy? In a recent episode of Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, poet Ross Gay said, “It is joy by which the labor that will make the life that I want, possible. It is not at all puzzling to me that joy is possible in […]

Valeria Luiselli

Recorded April 17, 2019

What drives storytelling? What is the story—who gets to tell it—and how? In a twist on the American road trip genre, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive explores these tensions. As an artist couple and their children embark on trip from New York to Arizona, wrestling with their family’s crisis, a bigger one comes to them […]

Adam Davidson

Recorded January 22, 2020

What the 20th century economy typically required of Americans who wanted success was to step away from their passions and embrace sameness. Now, in this new century—amidst concerns about our jobs being stolen by computers, about the middle class vanishing, and about the super-rich getting richer, Adam Davidson sees another narrative. Davidson, who is the […]

Rachel Maddow, in a blue blazer, stands at a lucite lectern, as the front rows of a crowd listen to her speak.

Rachel Maddow

Recorded October 11, 2019

When Rachel Maddow, host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, set out to research her latest book, Blowout, she wasn’t necessarily looking to write about the oil and gas industry. Instead, the question she was asking was this: At a time when democracy is falling and authoritarianism is rising globally, what do we do? […]

Wendell Berry

Recorded May 24, 2011

Port Royal in Henry County, Kentucky has a population of less than a hundred. And it’s there that farmer, novelist, poet, and cultural critic Wendell Berry—whose family farmed Kentucky land for 7 generations—has been writing for much of his life. With work like The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Wendell has functioned as both […]

Barbara Kingsolver

Recorded October 25, 2018

What happens when your world shifts, and you have to come to terms with a whole new reality? Barbara Kingsolver – the bestselling author of The Poisonwood Bible, The Lacuna, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and more – has some idea. In October 2018, SAL’s Executive Director, Ruth Dickey, sat down with Kingsolver to discuss her latest […]

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Recorded October 20, 2019

Why write about slavery in 2019? And when you write about, how do you defy the popular conceptions about slavery that readers have in their heads? How do you make the subject new? It took Ta-Nehisi Coates – author of the bestselling nonfiction works The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between The World And […]

Season One

Madhur Jaffrey

Recorded November 19, 2013

In this episode, we hear from Indian-born food and travel writer Madhur Jaffrey, who joined us in November 2013 for a talk on how we become who we are. At the time of her visit, Jaffrey, who is recognized for helping to bring Indian cuisine to the western hemisphere, had written nearly 30 cookbooks and […]

Ada Limón

Recorded October 5, 2016

In this episode, we hear from poet Ada Limón, who joined us in October 2016 at McCaw Hall for a reading from her collection Bright Dead Things. Named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle, Bright Dead Things follows a female speaker’s experiences of love and […]

Tom Hanks

Recorded December 6, 2017

In our latest episode of SAL/on air, we hear from actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, who joined us at McCaw Hall in December of 2017 as part of our 2017/18 SAL Presents Series. Seattle’s beloved librarian, Nancy Pearl, was in conversation with Hanks, who shared with us how he came to write his first book, […]

Azar Nafisi

Recorded February 28, 2006

In 2003, Azar Nafisi electrified readers worldwide with Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which went on to become a long-running #1 New York Times bestseller. A modest professor of English literature, Nafisi taught at the University of Tehran as the Islamic Revolution raged around her, until she was fired in 1981 for […]

Jane Hirshfield

Recorded March 12, 2009

In this episode, we hear from poet Jane Hirshfield, who joined us in March 2009 at Benaroya Hall for a reading spanning across her career, and for a discussion on the importance of inviting the intimacies of poetry and finding ways to say “yes” to the difficult. Described by The New Yorker as “radiant and […]

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Recorded May 7, 2018

In this special Thanksgiving episode, we hear from Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees, who joined us at Benaroya Hall in May 2018. He is introduced by Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director, and is interviewed after his talk by Jamie Ford, the celebrated author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. In […]

Frank McCourt

Recorded November 21, 2006

In this episode, we hear from Frank McCourt, who joined us in November 2006 for a lively talk about committing his youth to paper in his phenomenally popular memoir series, beginning with Angela’s Ashes. At the conclusion of McCourt’s talk, Margit Rankin, then-Executive Director of Seattle Arts & Lectures, joins him in an interview. McCourt, […]

Lucie Brock-Broido

Recorded April 23, 2015

When Lucie Brock-Broido, poet of the witching hour, sadly passed away in March 2018, we released audio of her reading “Infinite Riches in the Smallest Room,” a title that’s an apt description of her entire body of work. In our latest episode of SAL/on air, we are delighted to share her SAL reading in its entirety, which took […]

Madeleine Albright

Recorded April 24, 2018

Madeleine Albright was America’s first-ever female Secretary of State, from 1997 to 2001. Her distinguished career of public service includes positions in the National Security Council, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and on Capitol Hill. In her latest book, Fascism: A Warning, Albright gives us an urgent examination of fascism in the 20th century and how its legacy […]

Philip Roth

Recorded October 21, 1992

In our latest episode of SAL/on air, we hear from one of the pre-eminent authors of the 20th century—Philip Roth. He joined us back in October 1992 for a reading from his National Book Award-winning memoir, Patrimony: A True Story. Written with great intimacy at the height of his literary powers, Patrimony is Roth’s elegy to […]

Isabel Allende, Part Two

Recorded November 28, 2017

This episode is Part Two of our double-feature with Chilean writer Isabel Allende, who joined us for the second time for Seattle Arts & Lectures’ 2017/18 Season. On November 28, SAL had the pleasure of welcoming Allende back to our Literary Arts Series after her last visit thirty years ago, which we shared in our previous […]

Isabel Allende, Part One

Recorded March 14, 1989

One of the world’s most widely-read Spanish language authors, Chilean writer Isabel Allende is a master of the magical realism form and a colorful storyteller. At the time of Allende’s first visit to the SAL stage, she had authored her astonishing debut, “The House of the Spirits,” “Of Love and Shadows,” and “Eva Luna.” This […]

Ruth Ozeki

Recorded November 20, 2014

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, whose award-winning novels have been described as “witty, intelligent and passionate” by the Independent, and as possessing “shrewd and playful humor, luscious sexiness and kinetic pizzazz” by the Chicago Tribune. At the time of her visit, Ozeki had written three novels, most recently A Tale for Time-Being (2013), shortlisted […]

Elizabeth Strout

Recorded January 24, 2011

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, the bestsellers Abide With Me, The Burgess Boys, My Name is Lucy Barton, and the award-winning Amy and Isabelle, all set in New England, all exploring the twists and turns of family dynamics, small-town gossip, and experiences of love, loss, and grief. “The pleasure in reading Strout,” writes Louisa Thomas for […]

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