Albert Goldbarth

Albert Goldbarth

Past Event: Thursday, February 9, 2012

At Benaroya Hall — Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

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Albert Goldbarth was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1948, and has published over two dozen collections of poetry, including To Be Read in 500 Years: Poems (2009), The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems 1972-2007 (2007), Saving Lives (2001), and Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology (1991); several collections of essays, including Many Circles (2001), Great Topics of the World (1994), and A Sympathy of Souls (1990); and a novel, Pieces of Payne (2001). Both Saving Lives and Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Goldbarth is the only poet to have received the award twice.

Goldbarth’s poetry demonstrates a unique style, where complex thoughts and concepts wind themselves through conversational diction and detailed descriptions of both the world around us and the ideas that undergird our engagement with it. Like his poetry, Goldbarth’s essays also cover an astounding array of subjects from history, science, and pop culture to autobiography, yielding a poet with the ability to make connections between wildly disparate subjects. Writing in Carolina Quarterly, Robert Cording describes a poet who “has that rare gift of seeing metaphor in almost any event, of discovering a poem in the most unlikely places. . .Goldbarth’s poems. . .yoke disparate conceits, and [are] almost always fearlessly playful in their approach. . .It’s too easy to forget that for all of Goldbarth’s bravura, the poems’ punch lies in the way they affect us: over and over they tenderly remind us of the conditions of our humanness.”

After receiving his B.A. from the University of Illinois (Chicago Circle campus, 1969) and M.F.A. from the University of Iowa (1971), Goldbarth began a long and distinguished academic career teaching at Elgin Community College (Chicago), Cornell University, Syracuse University, the University of Texas, and Wichita State University, where he is currently a Distinguished Professor of Humanities. Writing on Goldbarth’s expansive areas of inspiration, Michael Simms notes, “He fashions metaphors from the deductions of historians, theologians, and physicists, integrating their arguments into poems which remain, somehow, intensely personal and concrete.” (Southwest Review) Connecting these different threads of observation and experience through sprawling, inquisitive poems, Goldbarth folds unique singularities, broad cultural phenomena, and personal experience into a distilled, affective whole that reinforces a deep, abiding humanity that unites us all.

Goldbarth is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, was nominated for the National Book Award for Jan. 31 (1974), and is the winner of the PEN West Creative Nonfiction Award for Many Circles (2001). He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. The Recital Hall is located on the upper level of Benaroya Hall, up the stairs to the left side of the Box Office. Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)

Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth Avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second Avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


SAL is for everyone. We want all audience members to be able to experience our lectures and readings regardless of accessibility concerns. Accessibility services at our venues are provided at no cost to ticket holders. If you find you need to sit closer to the stage to accommodate your needs but find the cost of a Patron ticket prohibitive, then please contact us—we will seat you where you need to be, regardless of cost.

Open Captioning occurs at every event that takes place at Benaroya Hall. It is also always available upon request for all events in our other halls, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Assisted Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems, are available at all of our venues, with the exception of Broadway Performance Hall. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

ASL-Interpretated Events are always available upon request, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Wheelchair Accessible Ticketing is available in all sections at our venues, and and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

For any further questions or requests, or to offer Seattle Arts & Lectures feedback on how we can be more accessible and inclusive, please reach out to our Patron Services Manager at or 206.621.2230×10.