Richard Kenney
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Richard Kenney

Past Event: Thursday, October 17, 2019

At Seattle Central Community College—Broadway Performance Hall

Richard Kenney, a Pacific Northwest poet, is known for his formally ambitious poetry, which employs intricate and playful verse to comment on science, politics, love, and language. His latest book of poems, Terminator (2019), is his first in ten years.

Kenney is the Grace M. Pollock Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Washington, where he teaches in the Undergraduate and the MFA programs. In his time at the university, he has founded and directed English programs in Rome, Italy and Friday Harbor, WA, at the UW marine laboratories. His poems—armed with the science of verse—dive into evolutionary and cognitive sciences, the origin of languages, magic, riddles, jokes, and charms. He is celebrated for his adept rhymes, his wit, and his profound commitment to craft.

Born in 1948 in Glens Falls, New York, Kenney earned a BA from Dartmouth College. His first collection of poetry, The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (1984), was awarded the Yale Younger Poets Prize. The book was heralded for its formal ambitiousness, including its extended sonnet sequence. James Merrill, in the book’s forward, wrote that “with its agreeable eddies of temperament, reflections that braid and shatter only to recompose downstream, this book moves like a river in a country of ponds.”

Orrery (1985), Kenney’s sophomore collection, derived its title from a curious eighteenth-century device used to display the movements of the solar system and features sonnets devoted to physics, memory, and time, as well as a sequence set on an apple cider farm in present-day Vermont. Two more collections followed, The Invention of the Zero (1993), which composed poems with strands of language from nuclear physics, paleontology, geology, and astronomy, and The One-Strand River (2008). Todd Marshall for the Iowa Review, wrote that The One-Strand River “feels and reads like a book of poems—tradition and the sense of a life lived in our world are touchstone throughout. And yet, frequently, the diction, the syntactical gymnastics, the sheer original limberness with language demand that we tune in, pay attention.”

Terminator: Poems 2008-2018 (October 2019), Kenney’s forthcoming collection from Knopf, takes the terminator—the line, perpendicular to the equator, that divides night from day—as the organizing concept of its poems.

Kenney’s work has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Poetry Northwest, and The American Scholar. He has received numerous awards, including Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize for The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Lannan Literary Award, and the Bogliasco Foundation fellowship.

Kenney lives with his family in Port Townsend, Washington.

Event Details

Seattle Central Community College—Broadway Performance Hall

1625 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122

View directions.

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 [email protected]. Call us at 206-621-2230 x10 if you can’t find them.

Have a question for the speaker?

Want to ask Richard Kenney something? Send your question to SAL’s Associate Director at [email protected]—it might be asked onstage!

The event will conclude with a book signing.

Open Books will have copies of Kenney’s work, including Terminator, available for purchase at their table in the lobby.

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

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

Transportation & Parking

The Broadway Performance Hall is located at Seattle Central College’s main campus, in the heart of the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood.


Parking for visitors and event guests is available 24/7 at the Harvard Garage (1609 Harvard Ave.), which is operated by Seattle Central College. For rates, visit Seattle Central’s Public Parking & Transportation page. Metered street parking is also available in the area.

Public Transit

By bus: Metro buses 11, 49 and 60 all pass next to, or within a block of, both the Broadway Performance Hall and Erickson Theatre. Visit King County Metro Trip Planner to learn more about these and other nearby bus options.

By streetcar: Take the Broadway route to the stop at Broadway & Denny.

By light rail: The Capitol Hill Link station is located approximately one block north of the Broadway Performance Hall, and two blocks north of Erickson Theatre.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing losses, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. Please note: for events at Broadway Performance Hall, we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure captioning services.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). This season, Broadway Performance Hall has an FM assistive listening system, which transmits sound via radio waves. To pick up a headset, check one out at the box office on the main floor when you arrive.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at [email protected] or 206.621.2230×10. 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. Guide and service dogs are also welcome. Broadway Performance Hall is equipped with an elevator and has eight handicapped-accessible seats in the central section, and a ramp and handrail lead into the hall on the left side of the auditorium. For more venue details, click here.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at [email protected], or Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am – 1:00pm, at 206.621.2230×10.


Poetry Series Sponsor
Charles B. & Barbara Wright