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?
LC: I’m new to the board, so I don’t have very many moments so far, but my favorite moment in the past was working at West Seattle High School as a WITS Writer. Back in 2000, Mary Ann Gwinn [from the Seattle Times] wrote an article about the program and published some of the student work. What’s even more memorable is that, on occasion, I have bumped into some of those students, these grown people now, and they tell me they still write. They still write! That’s the moment to beat.
AG: Do you have a favorite SAL event? What makes it so special to you?
LC: I don’t have a favorite event. This organization does such great work to champion literature and those who create it. Not sure a single event captures everything they do or the impact SAL has. But if I have to pick, it’s probably the WITS student readings… obvious bias there.
AG: What is a book you remember from your childhood that affected you?
LC: I wasn’t a big reader as a kid. I listened to the stories of my parents but reading didn’t really grab me until high school. Then, it was Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison that held a mirror up to my understanding of the world my parents were born of. I saw myself, and them, and we were validated and important and whole.
AG: What are you reading now?
LC: Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. Smith Blue by Camille Dungy. Cradle Song by Stacy Lynn Brown. She Has A Name by Kamilah Aisha Moon.
Thank you, Conner! Welcome to the SAL team!