Quenton Baker

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Poet Quenton Baker is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through his artistic lens.

Q&A with Quenton Baker

What are some of Seattle’s best places for poetry?

Seattle has a strong slam poetry scene, which you can experience Tuesday nights at Re-bar downtown. Elliott Bay Books brings local, national and international poets in to read. Hugo House is another great community for poets and writers. The used bookstores in Pike Place Market are phenomenal—many tourists don’t see them because they’re down under. And Open Books: A Poem Emporium is one of the only poetry bookstores in the country.

Your poetry is often based on deep research on African American history. How do you re-engage with the present?

I’m always living in the research, so it’s hard to take a break from it. When I do, I often go to The Station on Beacon Hill. It’s very neighborhoody. I always see the same people here, having discussions about everything from Afro-futurism to social justice to graphic novels. There are so many great restaurants on Beacon Hill, too—El Quetzal for Mexican, Bar del Corso for pizza.

People say Beacon Hill has finally come into its own as a neighborhood.

Yeah, my parents moved to Beacon Hill when I was one. I’m pretty sure it’s been a thing for a while! I don’t write specifically about the neighborhood, but so much about living here has shaped the way I’ve thought. At one time, Seattle had very strong lines drawn around certain neighborhoods—black and brown people were not welcome above the Ship Canal. Historically, this was a place where I would’ve been allowed. I feel community here.


Where else do you feel community?

The Northwest African American Museum is cool. Tariqa Waters has the Martyr Sauce art space in Pioneer Square. The Black Dot cultural center brings together black artists, tech people and entrepreneurs to collaborate on projects. And the Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill is a wonderful space that’s doing a lot of community work.

Is the natural beauty what draws poets to Seattle?

There is something about the access to nature that writers love. And there’s nothing like going to Volunteer Park to read a book in the grass—especially on one of the first sunny days in Seattle, when everybody is out there going crazy. But for me what’s most stimulating is the way people act and interact here.


Interview by Brangien Davis.

Photo taken at BLMF Literary Saloon, Pike Place Market.



Quenton Baker reads a poem for Jubilat.



Seattle’s best every month in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Book Your Trip

Partner Advertisements