Bugging Out at Hugo House

Review of Hugo House's Literary Series

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Tova Gaster, and edited by Teen Editor Huma Ali!

3 15 HLS Sassy Black6

Since everything is in a constant state of change, a huge variety of media can be shoehorned into the theme of “Metamorphosis”. This theme was stretched to its artistic breaking point at the Hugo House’s Literary Series, an evening of readings by acclaimed authors Benjamin Percy, Vanessa Hua, and Keetje Kuipers, as well as a musical performance by vocalist-producer-composer-improviser-goddess Sassyblack.

The Hugo House’s Metamorphosis literary series event specifically referred to Franz Kafka’s iconic story of the same name, in which a man is inexplicably transformed into a hideous beetle. Beyond the mutable theme of change and transformation, an insectoid motif crawled throughout several of the pieces. From author Benjamin Percy’s tale of a girl haunted by cockroaches and smoke, to Sassyblack’s repetition of “straight buggin-out” over spacey recorded beats, this reading was not an event for entomophobes—google search: person who fears insects.

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There Was Nowhere I Would Have Rather Been

Ananya G. gives us the long and short of her experience in this summer's Culture Writing 101.
Culturewriting101

In June I graduated high school, and in a few weeks I’ll be moving out of my parents’ home and beginning college. Summer is drawing to a close and reflecting back on it, Culture Writing 101 was one of the coolest (although it was pretty hot) parts of my summer.

The first class was right after my freshman orientation at the University of Washington Seattle campus. I got stuck in rush-hour traffic and ended up being late to the first day! But the minute I walked in, I felt welcome. As I sat down and was greeted by the lovely Ijeoma Oluo, our teacher, I immediately felt like this was where I belonged. We discussed current events and news items and I found myself among peers who shared my opinions and love and passion for social justice that I’ve felt all my life. At my predominantly white, suburban, middle-class high school, people often care more about prom or football games than police brutality or LGBTQIA+ issues. In this class I even found people who read the same feminist blogs as I did!

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My Playlist

​Recommended Reads and More from TeenTix Press Corps Writer Emily H.

About the DJ: Emily is a sophomore at Interlake High School who already knows that she will disagree with whatever prompt is on her AP English Language test on Friday, or any other prompt she ever sees because she is a second negative policy debater who can disagree in some capacity with almost anything. Her other talents include having more hair than everyone else she meets and distributing dinosaur stickers to strangers.

1. East of the Web East of the Web is one of my oldest discoveries. When I was 10 and happened upon a link to infinite, absurd short stories available to me on my father’s glossy desktop, I was so enthralled by the copious amounts of worlds I could jump into in a matter of minutes that I forgot where I was. I still like to catch up with the unusual, intriguing stories in between study sessions. My favorites range from classics like “The Lottery” to inexplicable stories like “The Great Orbital Road.”

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To Try the Impossible Before the Inevitable

​Author Amy Tan at Seattle Arts & Lectures

Amytan

Sounds echo across the walls of Benaroya Hall. They bounce back and forth in the giant space, resounding in each audience’s ears. However, at Amy Tan’s Seattle Arts and Lecture visit on June 5th, 2013, there were more than just sounds echoing across Benaroya Hall: there were unbelievably inspiring, incredible ideas.

Tan has written many world-renowned novels, like the insanely popular The Joy Luck Club, which was turned into a successful movie in 1993 and has been translated in 35 languages to-date. Tan has many other popular and well-written novels, like The Kitchen God’s Wife, Saving Fish from Drowning, The Hundred Secret Senses,” and more.

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The Sweet and the Bitter

Olivia M. loses her pen, but gains a new literary love affair in Nick Flynn at Seattle Arts & Lectures
Nickflynn

Seeing Nick Flynn on February 13th was a perfect palette cleanser for the saccharine day that was to follow. Chocolate and unbridled affection are the chosen dessert and emotion, respectively, for the day, but this lecture on “The Intersection of Poetry & Memoir” was an intriguing, bittersweet morsel, leaving my ears and heart wanting.

Sweet, because I have new holds at the SPL waiting by Flynn: Another Bullsh*t Night in Suck City, The Captain Asks for A Show of Hands, The Ticking Is the Bomb, and Blind Huber.

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Survival of the Unfittest

Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt walked onto the stage of Benaroya Hall with the air of a man who is accustomed to being in the spotlight. Fairly short with a dark suit, a slightly receding hairline, and a penchant for puns and jokes, he seemed more like your friend’s father than a Harvard professor, New York Times bestselling author, and winner of both the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. Greenblatt poked at the projector remote.

“Is this thing working?” he asked, fiddling with it for a second, before, "ahh!" The projector flipped its slide, revealing the name of his lecture: The Survival of Dangerous Ideas: Lucretius, The Renaissance, and the Modern World. Then, without even pausing to formally begin his lecture, Greenblatt jumped into his introduction , which followed the history and culture of militant Christian orthodoxy. Yet the historical portrait that Greenblatt painted for the multitudes of people who came to hear him speak at Benaroya Hall was fascinating and amazing because it was deeper than just dates and namedropping. Not only can I safely say that I exited the auditorium feeling smarter and more educated about the world around me, but I can also say that I genuinely enjoyed the lecture.

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Drinking Coffee With Eve

Review of Maria Howe at Seattle Arts & Lectures by Tucker C.

When Marie Howe walks onstage, something tells you that she is a woman that you want to listen to. Maybe it is her amazingly, delightfully big hair, which seems to have a personality all of its own. Maybe it is her calm, collected manner, or her erudite sense of humor. Maybe she has figured out how to distill gravitas and perfumes herself with it. At any rate, she is captivating from the start, and so is her poetry. Howe does what any good poet must; her words are finely, exactly chosen, and her poems lead you where she wants you. She made us laugh, wonder, and most of all to delve deep into the mind and souls of her work. Howe writes predominantly in personae, many of them religious. Several of the poems she read that night were written from the perspective of the Virgin Mary, reflecting casually on the Annunciation. Howe certainly does not shy away from megalithic archetypes in her work; perhaps the most striking poem of the evening was her piece written as Eve, describing the moment after the Fall. This is where Howe truly shines. She has the ability to worm her way into the giants of our lore, myths, and tradition, and make them seem human. In no way did her work debase them to make them accessible, but in assuming the personae of figures such as Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and others, she was able to remind us that they were living, breathing people, too. When she speaks to you as Eve, it is not hard to imagine that you are simply having a cup of coffee with your friend over lunch, a conversation like any two people might have. Where society has elevated these characters beyond the stature of normal life, Howe’s poetry was able to casually reach up, bring them back down to earth, and to make them real. In doing so, Howe only makes their stories more powerful and more vivid. Tragically, Marie Howe has left Seattle and is back to doing whatever it is poets do during the work week (of all the great mysteries of life, poetry has yet to explain this one to me). However, other opportunities await. The poetry series at Seattle Arts and Lectures never fails to disappoint, and is not to be missed. Seeing Marie Howe and hearing her work took my brain in new directions, put words together in ways that had me nodding up and down, or laughing out loud, and my money’s on the fact that the next poet that SAL has in will too. Check it out—you’ll be glad you did. Maria Howe was a one night only event Next Up at Seattle Arts & Lectures' Poetry Series: Poetry Triple Threat with Brian Turner, Major Jackson & Susan Rich Thursday, April 14 @ 7:30 PM Benaroya Hall REMEMBER: Seattle Arts & Lectures events are ALWAYS FREE for Teen Tix members, and you can ALWAYS bring a guest for $5.00!

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What Your Brain Craves

Review of Patricia Smith @ Seattle Arts & Lectures by Tucker C.

Confession: At the start, I wasn’t really thrilled about doing this review. Don’t get me wrong—I think poetry is super-awesome and have zero problem with it, but it just wasn’t something that I normally would have gone to. Regardless, there I was, in Benaroya Hall on a Tuesday night, about to hear a poet that I previously knew nothing about. This, however, was not a huge problem. As it turned out, Patricia Smith is one of those special people who really require no introduction. From her first moments on stage, she was captivating. Her poetry can wax long but never frivolously. She is always in control of her words, and she reminds you of it. At points, the raw power of her words grabs you by your shoulders and flings you across the room into the wall. Her introduction described her style of writing as “trying on many pairs of shoes, seeing which ones are most uncomfortable, and making them dance.” And she did. The dance was not always pretty and simple. Her remembrances of racism growing up in Chicago and the brutality of life after Hurricane Katrina at times made us cringe, shifting our weight in our seats. This was the measure of her power as a poet; to make us look unflinchingly and directly at what we had previously only seen on television and in textbooks.

Photo © Seattle Poetry Slam on flickr

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Plate Tectonics

Review of Annie Proulx at Seattle Arts & Lectures by Tucker Cholvin This Wednesday, Seattle Arts and Lectures hosted Annie Proulx, author of Postcards, The Shipping News, Wyoming Stories, as well as the short story Brokeback Mountain (later adapted into the Oscar-winning film) at Benaroya Hall. Proulx read from her new book, entitled Bird Cloud: A Memoir in Progress, giving a condensed but powerful taste of her style as a writer. Audience members were also given the chance to submit questions afterward for a question and answer session. Annie Proulx | photo by John Harding/Time & Life Pictures--Getty Images

Proulx, in her writing and her life, is deeply tied to Wyoming, her adopted home, and its land. She began with the setting of her house along a great cliff named Bird Cloud, describing the plate tectonics and slow forces that formed it, and that will reshape it again in the future. She progressed to describing the indigenous peoples who settled the area first, and then remembered the land as it was when she came to it. As visceral and raw as the wild land she loves, she delights in setting the scene with the small details. Her style reveals not only her great love of the land but also surrounds one in its untamed world. This wild landscape, created so attentively at the start, becomes the foundation for all other things—a fatal car accident on a state highway, an exchange with an overeager shopkeeper in her old hometown, or a fly-fishing expedition are all set against this vibrant backdrop. No matter the subject, Proulx infuses a physicality into her stories that throws one into the moment and makes her stories come alive. The euphoria of her joy is tangible and real; its swift and merciless destruction bites just as coldly as if it had been us. In their extremities, they mirror the blossoming summers and brutal winters of Proulx's Wyoming, where nothing can truly last. Wielding all the power and force of nature and the earth, her writing becomes a living, breathing creature, strong and potent. This mere taste of her book pulled me in, leaving me hungry for more and in awe of a great writer. -Tucker C. October 7, 2009 Annie Proulx was a one-night event Next up in Seattle Arts & Lectures Literary Series: Lydia Davis Wednesday, November 4th @ 7:30 Benaroya Hall more info

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