Seattle Arts and Lectures celebrates its 30th anniversary with a slate of authors including Pulitzer winners Tyehimba Jess, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Colson Whitehead

Tonight, Seattle Arts & Lectures announced the lineup of authors for their 2017-2018 season. This season will mark SAL’s 30th anniversary as one of Seattle’s guiding literary lights, and SAL curator Rebecca Hoogs has worked to assemble a slate of readers that calls back to some of SAL’s most successful events and forward to the future of literary arts.

For the poetry series, readers include Steph Burt, a professor of English at Harvard University who’s also known as Stephen or Stephanie Burt; classical translator A.E. Stallings; a conversation between poets Rachel McKibbens, Benjamin Alire Saenz, and Javier Zamora. Maybe the most exciting of the poetry announcements was Tyehimba Jess, whose Wave Books collection Olio just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Jess will be reading at McCaw Hall on Sunday, March 4th of next year.

The literary series, which will stay at Benaroya Hall for the next season, will feature:

  • Alexander Hamilton biographer (and author of the source material for mega-musical Hamilton) Ron Chernow on Wednesday, October 18th of this year.
  • Beloved novelist Isabel Allende making her grand return to SAL on Tuesday, November 28th of this year.
  • Novelist Jesmyn Ward, whose memoir Men We Reaped examines America’s ritual sacrifice of young black men, on January 17th.
  • Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen (author of The Sympathizer) on May 7th, 2018.
  • A special performance of the Moth storytelling series at McCaw Hall on Wenesday, May 23rd of next year.
  • And — this is the one that's going to break the online box office, I bet — Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist Colson Whitehead makes his SAL return next spring.

You can buy tickets to these shows starting tonight on SAL’s website.

SAL leadership is also teasing some big changes for their big 30th anniversary. They’re promising a new website (with a new ticketing service) by fall of this year, and they’re arranging the rights to release some of their archived shows from the past 30 years on the site.

The organization as a whole, after going through some rough times a few years back, is strong and only getting stronger. SAL executive director Ruth Dickey told me that over the last four years, the organization doubled its numbers of subscribers and donors — a remarkable feat for a literary arts organization preparing to enter its fourth decade in this city.