SAL/on air

A monthly Arts podcast
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Episodes of SAL/on air

This talk by celebrated novelist Wallace Stegner, recorded in 1990, is really a master class on the intermingling of life and art. With equal measures of charm and critique, Stegner questions the very nature of storytelling: is it method, persp
"I live in a space between," Imbolo Mbue says in this talk. "It is the immigrant's burden to live with a body in one place, and the heart in another." In this episode, recorded on June 7, 2019, at Town Hall Seattle, Imbolo Mbue describes how
Maxine Kumin, whom we lost in 2014, once said that, quote, “The garden has to be attended every day, just as the horses have to be tended to. Not just every day, but morning, noon and night. Writing, I think, exerts the same kind of discipline.
As with any condition, until we have language for what we are experiencing, until we can name it, we often feel controlled by it. In January of 2019 Soraya Chemaly renamed and redefined anger for us. In a riveting talk based upon her book, “Rag
When Barry Lopez died at the age of 75 this past December, we knew we had lost one of the greats. His writings have frequently been compared to those of Henry David Thoreau, as he brought a depth of erudition to the text by immersing himself in
“Every generation has to reiterate, rewrite what those genres are and what they mean in the vocabulary of the moment. So the elegy is not a set genre, it's not a set form. We each have to re-write that thing when we write. That's our job, in a
Have you ever had a slice of cake that had been soaked in a sort of syrup? Maybe rose-syrup? Maybe lemon? Dense and rich at the same time—soaked in joy—it’s almost not cake anymore. Every one of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems, read at SAL’s May
As our annual reading program, Summer Book Bingo wrapped up, we asked readers to reflect on their favorite reading experience of the summer. One of you wrote: “My favorite reading experience was reading So You Want to Talk About Race. It forced
Almost exactly a year ago, on May 21, 2019, we closed our Poetry Series with a reading by Jericho Brown, followed by a conversation with Copper Canyon editor and poet Elaina Ellis. It was a riveting and joy-filled evening in celebration of Jeri
Four weeks after her passing in her hometown of Dublin, we want to celebrate the ways Eavan Boland drew up a new science of cartography for Irish poetry—one that included women in their everyday lives. One that depicted children, the routines o
In a time like this, where do you look to for joy? In a recent episode of Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being, poet Ross Gay recently said, “It is joy by which the labor that will make the life that I want, possible. It is not at all puzzling to
What drives storytelling? What is the story—who gets to tell it—and how? In a twist on the American road trip genre, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive explores these tensions. As an artist couple and their children embark on trip from Ne
What the 20th century economy typically required of Americans who wanted success was to step away from their passions and embrace sameness. Now, in this new century—amidst concerns about our jobs being stolen by computers, about the middle clas
When Rachel Maddow, host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, set out to research her latest book, "Blowout," she wasn’t necessarily looking to write about the oil and gas industry. Instead, the question she was asking was thi
Port Royal in Henry County, Kentucky has a population of less than a hundred. And it’s there that farmer, novelist, poet, and cultural critic Wendell Berry—whose family farmed Kentucky land for 7 generations—has been writing for much of his lif
What happens when your world shifts, and you have to come to terms with a whole new reality? Barbara Kingsolver – the bestselling author of The Poisonwood Bible, The Lacuna, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and more – has some idea. In October 201
Why write about slavery in 2019? And when you write about, how do you defy the popular conceptions about slavery that readers have in their heads? How do you make the subject new? It took Ta-Nehisi Coates – author of the bestselling nonfiction
In this episode, we hear from Indian-born food and travel writer Madhur Jaffrey, who joined us in November 2013 for a talk on how we become who we are. At the time of her visit, Jaffrey, who is recognized for bringing Indian cuisine to the west
In this episode, we hear from poet Ada Limón, who joined us in October 2016 at McCaw Hall for a reading from her collection Bright Dead Things. Named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle, Br
In our latest episode of SAL/on air, we hear from actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, who joined us at McCaw Hall in December of 2017. Seattle’s beloved librarian, Nancy Pearl, was in conversation with Hanks, who shared with us how he came to write
In 2003, Azar Nafisi electrified readers worldwide with "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," which went on to become a long-running #1 New York Times bestseller. A modest professor of English literature, Nafisi taught at the Universit
In this episode, we hear from poet Jane Hirshfield, who joined us in March 2009 at Benaroya Hall for a reading spanning across her career, and for a discussion on the importance of inviting the intimacies of poetry and finding ways to say “yes”
In this special Thanksgiving episode, we hear from Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees, who joined us at Benaroya Hall in May 2018. He is introduced by Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director, and is interviewed after his
In this episode, we hear from Frank McCourt, who joined us in November 2006 for a lively talk about committing his youth to paper in his phenomenally popular memoir series, beginning with Angela’s Ashes. At the conclusion of McCourt’s talk, Mar
When Lucie Brock-Broido, poet of the witching hour, sadly passed away in March 2018, we released audio of her reading "Infinite Riches in the Smallest Room," a title that's an apt description of her entire body of work. In our latest episode o
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