Paisley Rekdal

Emily London

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Paisley Rekdal

Past Event: Thursday, February 6, 2020

At Hugo House—Lapis Theater

Paisley Rekdal is a Seattle-born poet whose latest work radically rewrites and contemporizes many of the myths central to Ovid’s epic, The Metamorphoses, examining personal transformation with intensity and a lyric sensibility.

Paisley Rekdal is the author of six poetry collections: A Crash of Rhinos (2000), Six Girls Without Pants (2002), The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (2007), Animal Eye (2013), Imaginary Vessels (2016), and her latest, Nightingale (2019). Retelling the myths of Ovid, Nightingale meditates on change and trauma. A starred review from Publishers Weekly praises: “Rekdal’s [work] is relentlessly heartbreaking and intense, but also full of the pleasures of closely observed detail and imagination given free rein.”

Beyond her poetry, Rekdal is also the author of a collection of cross-genre essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee (2000) and the hybrid photo-text memoir, Intimate (2011). Her book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, A Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam (2016), won the prestigious Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Creative Nonfiction award. As a family member of surviving war veterans, much of her work, like The Broken Country, turns towards the subject of inherited trauma and the intergenerational legacy of war.

Rekdal is the only daughter of a Chinese American mother and Norwegian father. She grew up in what she called “pre-Yuppie, Stoner Seattle” in an interview about her unusual first name with Matthew Batt. She went on to earn a B.A. from the University of Washington. Next, she received a MA from the University of Toronto Centre for Medieval Studies, and an M.F.A from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Rekdal currently teaches at the University of Utah; she was named the Poet Laureate of Utah in 2017. She is the creator and editor of the community web project Mapping Salt Lake City, a community-created archive of Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods and people that documents the city’s changes through art, critical and creative literature, personal maps, and multi-media projects. In April 2019, Rekdal won a $100,000 grant from the Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship to continue her work with this project.

She is the recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea, National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes (2009, 2013), a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, Narrative’s Poetry Prize, the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Rekdal is the guest editor for Best American Poetry 2020.

Event Details

Hugo House—Lapis Theater

1634 11th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Know Before You Go

Don't have your tickets?

Most tickets have been emailed, so be sure to check your inbox for an email from Call us at 206-621-2230 x10 if you can’t find them.

Have a question for the speaker?

Want to ask Paisley Rekdal something? Send your question to SAL’s Associate Director at—it might be asked onstage!


Open Books will have copies of Rekdal’s work available for purchase at their table in the lobby.

The event will conclude with a book signing.

Patrons & Grand Patrons, you're invited to Happy Hour!

Patrons & Grand Patrons, join us for light bites and wine with Paisley Rekdal at The Tin Table, located at 915 E Pine St between 10th & Broadway, from 6:30 to 7:15pm.

Transportation & Parking

Public transportation: The new Hugo House is a short walk from the Capitol Hill light rail station and the First Hill streetcar (Broadway & Pike-Pine stop), and within a half-mile of many buses.

Parking: A pay parking lot is available nearby at the Greek Orthodox Church at 13th and Howell, or at Seattle Central College’s Harvard Garage at 1609 Harvard Avenue. Street parking is also available but not guaranteed. The garage beneath Hugo House is for tenants only.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. Open Captioning is available upon request for all events at Hugo House. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Open Captioning” during your ticket checkout process, and we will be in touch with you to confirm details. For events at Hugo House, we appreciated a two-week minimum notice to arrange open captioning.

Closed Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where captioning displays the words that are spoken or sung at the bottom of the video. Captioning is available for all online events; click the “CC” button to view captions during the event.

Assistive Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems at Benaroya Hall, Town Hall, and Hugo House, are available at all of our venues. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information or to make specific arrangements, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

Gender neutral restrooms are available.

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.


Poetry Series Sponsor
Charles B. & Barbara Wright
Essay Sponsor