Paisley Rekdal

Emily London

Paisley Rekdal

Past Event: Thursday, February 6, 2020

At Hugo House—Lapis Theater

Poetry Icon


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, including routes 8, 10, 11, 43, 49, and 60.

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.


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, including Hugo House, with a two-week minimum notice. 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 digital streams of online events, all pre-recorded and live online events will have either open or closed captioning.

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