Beloved Ask the Oracle Literary Event Goes to Bumbershoot

Literary answers to life’s pressing questions

By Jim Demetre


August 3, 2016

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

For 20 years, Seattle’s Hugo House has served as an urban writer’s retreat at its Capitol Hill location across from Cal Anderson Park, sponsoring and hosting a wide variety of events, residencies and services for readers and writers alike. And while the institution is admired throughout the nation for its rich and innovative programming, its reputation has never prevented those involved with it from having fun with poetic language and old, even ancient, literary traditions.

The latest example is the monthly Ask the Oracle, usually held at Hotel Sorrento, Seattle’s intimate First Hill hotel. Equal parts literary salon and Delphic game show, Ask the Oracle is hosted by Seattle poet Johnny Horton, a silver-haired figure who dons a velvet tuxedo for the occasion. Attendees are asked to inscribe pertinent questions on sticky notes and hand them to the host before the show. He then poses these questions to his select, invited “guest oracles”—local authors—who answer them with prescient passages from their own works. On September 2, Ask the Oracle will travel to Bumbershoot at Seattle Center.

Featured writer/oracles will include Ijeoma Oluo, writer, editor and author of So You Want to Talk About Race, set for release in 2017; Kristiana Kahakauwila, author and fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study; and author Garth Stein, whose book The Art of Racing in the Rain spent more than three years on the New York Times best-seller list. Tweet questions—from the straight forward to the absurd—to @HugoHouse with the hashtag #oracle. 7–8:30 p.m. Bumbershoot ticketrequired. Center Theatre, 305 Harrison St.;206.322.7030;

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