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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Next Year at Seattle Arts & Lectures

posted by on April 18 at 13:56 PM

The speakers in next year’s Seattle Arts & Lectures literary lecture series are going to be announced tonight before Jonathan Lethem’s lecture. They haven’t been announced on SAL’s website yet.

The series begins with a special event with Wangari Maathai, winner of 2004’s Nobel Peace Prize, on Sept 19.

Then there’s Orhan Pamuk (who just won the Nobel Prize for Literature) on October 15; Diane Ackerman on November 19; Colson Whitehead on January 14; Mary Oliver on February 4; Richard Powers on March 5; and John Banville on April 29.

The question people always ask about SAL’s lecture series is: So, what’s the idea behind the programming, other than: Here are some people who are famous and old? I just got off the phone with Hollis Palmer, SAL’s Director of Events and Marketing, and so I put the oft-repeated question her: “Were these people chosen for next year’s series because they’re famous and old? (A quick look at birthdays: Oliver was born in the 1930s, Banville in the 1940s, and everyone else in the 1950s, except Whitehead, who was born in 1969.)

Palmer’s reply: “The line we like to take is we try to present the outstanding literary figures of our time.

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Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that in NYC lectures are increasingly geared toward younger audiences, featuring younger speakers and more interesting topics.

Go Seattle. Yawn.

Posted by BB | April 18, 2007 2:23 PM

Not yawn. Not yawn at all.

Pamuk is the Turkish Nabokov, Oliver our best poet of the natural world, Powers a mind-bending amalgamation of physicist and Brother Grimm, and Banville is just about the best stylist our poor little world's got going now.

Point is, who cares how old or young they are? They can write. They've got things to say. I'm going to go hear them.

Posted by chrismccann | April 18, 2007 4:36 PM

is there something wrong with being old?
Most things are geared towards youth and anyone older is not even looked at as being a possible new artist or considered to be vital as contributing to something new or any art scene.
I had dinner a few weeks ago with Douglas Coupland at his friends house Gordon Smith. Gordon is 87 and is so amazing and has more energy and talent than many younger artists.
Now I know many younger artists that are talented but I also know how once you have been used up by the popular art establishment you will be tossed aside for a new younger artist that fits the bill for promoting "Art". Many older artists are over looked so someone has to keep the view that all artists are equally important. Wether it is in Seattle or here in Vancouver. The idea that older people are not interesting or viable any more is happening everywhere. Get over it, you do not know what you are missing when talking to someone with tons of experience and age behind them.
I have many younger friends that are artists and just as many that are older like Gordon I mentioned earlier it is all good. It is well mixed here in Vancouver and everyone benefits from that mix and appreciation of older artists.

Posted by -B- | April 18, 2007 4:45 PM

What troubles me in the Seattle poetry scene is the lack of Lorca's "duende"-- the ecstatic rattle of life over death. Take, for instance, the upcoming Seattle Poetry Festival. Can a working poet who doesn't whore himself out to the Academy, the Corporation, or the Publishers afford $12 a night? I imagine it would be $12 worth of utter boredom. The young: lobotomized by hypertext and and visionless "spoken word". The old: trying to link up with some cash-cow of a reading circuit. This is evident by the links thru wikipedia. Poets who have sites should be exiled. You don't write poetry, you write recipes for stagnated gruel. This city with no street poets. I'm sick of being disappointed by headlining poet-divas. Yes, they merge craft and bureaucracy very well. Yes they are exquisite professionals. But they make me puke like a month on tour with the Trashies. Where is the relavant poetry? Please, someone point it out to me.

Posted by Ryan Smilac | April 18, 2007 11:25 PM

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