Charles Johnson is one of Seattle's literary giants - right up there with authors like Jonathan Raban and Richard Hugo and Denise Levertov. One of Seattle's few National Book Award winners and a MacArthur "Genius," Johnson has represented the city at a time when the nation still considered us to be a literary lightweight.
Johnson's fiction has often been celebrated for the way he has corrected the historical record. His historical novels and short stories have helped provide a voice for Black Americans who have been cut out of the history books. He writes exuberantly, with the passion of someone who knows that he doesn't need to ask permission or forgiveness.
It's no surprise that he excelled as a writing teacher, and that he guided, inspired, and shaped generations of young writers at the University of Washington. Though he's retired from the UW, Johnson confirmed in an interview last year that he's still a teacher. His book The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling offers up some of his most compelling thoughts on the writing craft, but Johnson has a whole world of knowledge inside his head that he's eager to share with new generations of writers.
This Thursday, Hugo House is welcoming Johnson to give a talk about the craft of writing as part of their Word Works series. He'll be delivering a lecture based on his essay "Storytelling and the Alpha Narrative," and then he'll take audience questions on just about any writing-related topics they can imagine. It's an opportunity to listen to one of our most consequential authors, and to drink in a tiny sip of his oceans of expertise.
Annex Theatre. 1100 E Pike St, http://hugohouse.org, 7 pm, $15.