SAL By Candlelight: Announcing a glassybaby Partnership

What are those vibrant SAL-red candles illuminating the stage at Benaroya Hall this season?

Meet ‘Seattle Sunset’.

SAL is excited to announce that, beginning in September, glassybaby is sharing 10% of its ‘Seattle Sunset’ proceeds in support of our Writers in the Schools Program. These candles will be lighting our stage with a festive glow all season and helping fuel WITS. glassybaby, which crafts its beautiful glass candle holders in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood, has raised more than $5 million for charity by donating 10% of every sale to nonprofits that provide support to those in need. From glassybaby’s blog: Read more…

Book Club Spotlight: North & West Seattle

On a ship bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, religious renegade Anne Hutchinson founded what might count as the very first American book club: a group of English women, disgruntled at being shut out of discussions, met to analyze the weekly sermons. In the centuries since, book clubs have been vehicles for many kinds of concerns; but always, they are efforts to set up a community within a landscape, to embrace the social dimension of reading, to challenge us to make reading and thinking an intrinsic part of our friendships.

Seattle has the lucky problem of being flooded with book clubs. They’re at nearly every independent bookstore and library branch you can name, and many come tailor-made to readers’ interests: there’s the 21st Century Science Fiction Book Club at Ada’s Technical Books; the art aficionado’s book club at the SAM; the singer-songwriter’s Bushwick Book Club. There’s even the Sorrento Silent Reading Party for those who’d like to forgo the talking altogether.

But private book clubs are harder to learn about. Their proceedings happen behind closed doors, in living rooms, basements, and backyards, between friends, colleagues, neighbors. And yet, they’re a valuable part of Seattle’s literary community: even the most tight-knit book clubs stimulate local conversations. They influence which books get passed from hand to hand. Many have been attending SAL events for years.

To hear more about them, Sonder is kicking off a “Book Club Spotlight” series, interviewing book clubs around Seattle, finding out who they’re reading, their involvement with SAL, and to give them the chance to ask SAL authors their questions. Our first Book Club Spotlight is on a reading group who meet in one another’s houses in the North Seattle area and in West Seattle. The ten members—Jennifer, Ann, Karen E., Karen R., Lindsay, Toddy, Helen, Kristiana, Mary, and Kristen—were kind enough to share their favorite selections, plus a great question for Ann Patchett… Read more…

Book Bingo: An Illustrated Board

Summer Book Bingo is a partnership with The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures to provide free summer reading fun for adults. This summer, participants read a total of 8717 books, and we received a whopping 248 blackout cards and 227 bingo cards. Although it’s officially ended, be sure to swing by your local Seattle library branch or one of SAL’s partner bookstores next year to grab a Bingo Card and spend the summer of ’17 reading great books.

Heather Kelley—a volunteer and wonderful friend of SAL—has once again wowed the SAL office with her beautifully illustrated board for Summer Book Bingo 2016:

About her experience with bingo this year, she writes, “I love that Book Bingo encourages me to read books from such varied genres. (How is it possible that I have never read Anne of Green Gables?!).”

Thank you, Heather, and thank you to all of our marvelous bingo players! See Heather’s bingo board from 2015 and read more about her process here.

5 Questions: Peyton Mann, WITS Intern

Somehow, well before September 22nd, Seattle always lets you know that summer has come to an abrupt end (that is, if it ever started to begin with). This has left many SAL staffers with a familiar, lingering guilt: our summer reading lists metamorphose into suspiciously similar-looking fall reading lists, we recount couch-time that should have been sun-time, and some of us even sadly begin our knitting projects.

None of this is true, however, for Peyton Mann, one of SAL’s youngest and most go-getter interns to date. Peyton spent her summer months intrepidly interning with the WITS program, helping to build Camp WITS from the ground up. Now a junior at Eastside Prep, Peyton volunteered her mad organizational skills because, she says, “I wanted to find something worthwhile to do… I love how WITS gives students and kids a voice to write with who might not have the opportunity to write.” Slightly awestruck by her self-starter approach to summer, we asked Peyton a few questions about all the interning, reading, and living goals she’s accomplished… Read more…

Book Bingo: The Tropical Edition

Summer Book Bingo is a partnership with The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures to provide free summer reading fun for adults. When your neighborhood library closes tonight, Bingo officially ends—so be sure to drop off your completed board for your last chance to win fabulous prizes!

In this guest post from Lynne K. Varner, Washington State University’s Associate Vice President for Advancement Relations & Communications Strategies, it all begins with one lucky ticket to Hamilton. Inspired by the musical, Lynne shares some of her favorite summer reads, all set in sweltering tropical climates…

By Lynne K. Varner

I don’t know how anyone else is greeting the sudden coolness signaling fall’s approach, but I welcome it. I’m due for a cooling off after a summer spent absorbed in five delectable books all set in sweltering, humid climates.

My tropical literary getaway started in late June. I hit the lottery, so to speak, managing to snag a ticket to Hamilton, the rousing hip-hop musical about a founding father few of us had thought about before his name became the hottest ticket on Broadway. To prepare, I picked up Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow’s biography of our first U.S. Treasury secretary, setting off on an imaginary journey to Hamilton’s birthplace, the island of Nevis in the British West Indies.

I inhaled the 826-page book and wished there was a second volume. Where was this brilliant, witty, bombastic man who loved pistols and ladies with equal measure when I was studying the Federalist papers in high school? Read more…

Camp WITS: 2016 Audio Collection

Need a soundtrack for your Labor Day weekend?

Four weeks ago, eight teens gathered at the Garfield Teen Life Center‘s recording studio to give us these emphatically–and sometimes collaboratively–performed poems. Written during their time at Camp WITS under the mentorship of WITS Writers Nikkita Oliver and Daemond Arrindell, they grapple with the vastness of identity, responsibility, and adulthood; they call us to still ourselves for a moment to listen, to transform.

Special thanks to our teaching artists, Nikkita and Daemond, and to this album’s producer, Terry Calloway. Finally, thank you to all of our partners at the Garfield Teen Life Center, and to the poets for sharing this beautifully recorded work.


Read more…

WITS Voices: What did you do on your summer vacation?

As summer nears to a close, we asked our Writers in the Schools teaching artists to tell us what they did on their summer vacation: what they read, wrote, researched, ate, worked on, and, of course, what fun they had. Read on for a glimpse into 8 local writers’ summers.

Late summer blackberry pie count = three, and two dozen jars of apricot jam (summer in a jar) from our own trees! And I read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, and sent out book-length poetry manuscripts (fingers crossed).

–Laura Gamache


This summer I was lucky enough to get to teach in Rome, Italy with Rebecca Hoogs and Johnny Horton through University of Washington’s Creative Writing in Rome program. During a mid-program break, I visited Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden (and got to chat about it with the editor of the Tarot Poetry Anthology, Marjorie Jensen). My reading from the summer has been all over the place, including: Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome, Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City, Jan Rothuizen’s The Soft Atlas of Amsterdam (with thanks to fellow teaching artist Greg Stump for introducing me to it), and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon x 100 (which I was excited to learn shares an aesthetic rhizome with Gertrude Stein – no wonder I like both so much!).

–Sierra Nelson

* Read more…

New SAL Board Member: Welcome, Lauri Conner!

By Annie Gala, Marketing & Programs Intern

Alongside Candace Barron, Lauri Conner—who simply goes by “Conner”—is the latest member of SAL’s Board of Directors. A PhD candidate at the University of Washington in Education and a graduate of their M.F.A. program, she is a local writer and teacher. A Cave Canem fellow, you can find her poems in journals such as Calyx and the Seattle Review, and you might spot her teaching Literature and Creative Writing at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, where she is the Head of Upper School.

We sat down with Conner to ask about her involvement with SAL, her memories as a former WITS Writer, and the one book that began her passion for reading and writing…

Annie Gala: How were you inspired to get involved with SAL on a deeper level?

Lauri Conner: Inspired is a strange word. I kind of take the Lorca’s view that inspiration is thin: for Lorca, discovery and imagination were synonymous, so I discovered a deeper level of involvement because SAL discovered me (in so many ways). A friend gave Ruth my name and Ruth became a driving force in recruiting me to the board. After a lunch with Ruth, a lunch where I was running late, had to check my phone a million and two times because of my work as an educator, Ruth was this calm that I now understand in context beyond that moment. She opened the door to the possibility of my involvement on a different level, especially as a former WITS Writer, to have a different impact on the program I used to be a part of. After that discovery, how could I not be involved?

AG: What is one of your most memorable moments with SAL so far?   Read more…

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: SAL Season Poster Contest

Tired of catching Charizards and Bulbasaurs in Pokémon GO? Switch to hunting down SAL 2016/17 Season posters! 

Thanks to a class of amazing designers at the School of Visual Concepts, we have nine unique season posters plastering coffee shop walls and telephone polls near you. Catch a photo of three of the designs and your name will be placed in a drawing to win a SAL season poster of your choice and a pair of tickets to The Moth Mainstage on May 17th!

Read more…