Immagrant's Table

This is a Literary Feast. And by far Sanelli's most popular and sought after performance, especially for fundraising organizations.

The Immigrant's Table has raised thousands of dollars for The Board of Italian Studies at The University of Washington, The San Mateo Public Library (CA), The ArtsWest Theater (Seattle), The Sno-Isle Library System, The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, The Whidbey Island Center For The Arts, The Land Trust of Port Townsend, The Jewel Box Theater (Poulsbo), & The Peninsula College Foundation, The Edmonds College Foundation, Washington State Women's Reciprocity Fundraising, The Tenement Museum in New York City, and Soroptimist International, The Bainbridge Island Arts Council, as well as many other venues (see events page).

This staged reading dramatically and poetically tells a story of immigration, cultural adjustment and weaving Old and New Worlds together into a rich fabric of memoir. Sanelli’s staged reading from her book, The Immigrant’s Table, includes poetry, storytelling, Italian food & wine: all the elements she so enthusiastically writes about in her story of coming of age first generation American, born to parents from Italy. Sanelli introduces her audience to her family in the most Italian of settings: around a table. And in introducing her family, she also reveals those long-held family recipes for a great meal as well as those for a lively family.


"What a truly wonderful experience. Sanelli is inspiring."
—Lori Dillon, ArtsWest Playhouse, Seattle

"Mary Lou is by far the best speaker our organization has ever had."
—Diane Green, Soroptimist International

"We extend a rave review about the performance. The Immigrant's Table graced our conference."
—Elizabeth Guss, Director, Whidbey Island Writers Conference

"I feel compelled to say you how good, how radiant the performance of The Immigrant’s Table was."
—Director, Starbucks Corporate Event, Seattle

"The Immigrant’s Table" was one of the most enjoyable and
delightful evenings our AAUW group has ever had.
—Grace Lynch, President, AAUW

The Literary Gardener

This program is perfect for the Garden Club or Garden Tour Venue.

Featured in the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, Seattle Convention Center, 2011.

"Our Garden Club is still talking about you and
how much your presentation was enjoyed!"
—Helen Tafejian, Olympia Garden Club

The Literary Gardener lights on a winning combination: cultivating the soil and renewing the language. The gardener’s routine, like that of the writer, sharpens observation and fosters the contemplative spirit. Though the reading's focus is in the garden, the situations are varied and as much outside the individual’s control as the elements. Wind, rain, and sun may help or hinder growth, but the key to success in both gardening and writing is a ready receptivity, something Sanelli brings to the ordinary happenings of each day.

Sanelli has been a guest of: The Medina Garden Show; The Wallingford Garden Tour; Bainbridge in Bloom; Kitsap In Bloom; The Port Townsend Secret Garden Tour; Sequim, Washington’s Lavender Festival; as well as many other gardening venues.

Northwest Reading

Northwest Reading and Talk

Mary Lou Sanelli has a personable and striking presence in her writings. Throughout her career—eight titles, regular newspaper and magazine columns, and numerous radio commentaries both on local community radio as well as NPR — she brings a sharp eye and sophisticated wit to issues specific to the Northwest.

Sanelli shows, in story after commentary, just what place means to her: the people, the landscape, the gardens, the cafes, and, yes, the rain. And then there's the harbors and the ferryboat she routinely travels across Puget Sound: This sound, too, serves to inspire and uplift. There are the people who live by the water, the friends and acquaintances, her encounters as she walks the beach, visits the boatyard, watches the sunset from the city pier, or attends a wake in honor of one of the Olympic Peninsula's old-timers, all of which intensify her love of the Northwest. You'll come away from her presentation with a deep appreciation of this corner of America and, quite likely, with a longing to know your own city and neighbors a little better than you do now.

"I especially like her struggle to understand her adopted city. As an East Coast Italian girl plunked down in white bread, PC Seattle she has the capacity to see ourselves as others see us."

—Knute Berger, former editor The Seattle Weekly.

Among Friends A memoir of one woman’s expectations, disappointments, regrets & discoveries while searching for friends-for-life

Perfect for the book club or any group of women willing to delve into the hodgepodge of emotions common to anyone who decides to befriend another.

Excerpt from the introduction of Among Friends:

Not too long ago, a dear friend, a visual artist, asked me a question that caused me to take a deep breath and pause: “What does friendship look like to you?” I remember trying to stumble through an answer and not being able to formulate my thoughts. In a way, this entire book is an effort to answer that question more clearly.

Today, my answer comes easily: I see laughter. Lots of it. And acceptance, of my friend and of myself, and a desire to learn from each other.

Mothers and Daughters

Newest Talk & Reading

This is a presentation about mothers and daughters, the life cycle, the mother/daughter evolutionary process that lasts your lifetime. This dynamic has wiggled it's way into so much of what I write. Reading from this work is the most fun. I look out into the audience and the women are nodding their heads, wiping their eyes, smiling. They know what I mean. If I didn't know they knew, I would have stopped writing long ago.

"There is still lots of work to do, apparently: learning to exchange our appreciation of each other instead of all the silly, useless gifts we buy one another to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know how to say, for one."

a woman writing

A Woman Writing

Explore all the realities true to anyone who has thought of making writing a part of their life.