Brian McGuigan is a writer, performer, arts organizer, and retired poet.
His essays have appeared in The Stranger, Gawker’s Saturday Essay Series, The Rumpus, Salon, ParentMap, and elsewhere. He’s received grants and fellowships from Artist Trust, 4Culture, the Jack Straw Writers Program, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and his work has been covered by The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, Sunset Magazine, and Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW 94.9.
Brian’s poetry chapbook, More Than I Left Behind, was published by Spanktra Press in 2005 after a drunken bet with its publisher. Brian lost the bet, but they published him anyway. For a couple of years, he performed a series of multimedia essays about his 120-lb weight loss called Fat Fuck all over Seattle, from abandoned buildings turned temporary performance spaces to Bumbershoot, the city’s annual three-day music and arts festival. Brian is currently at work on a memoir about growing up a bastard and becoming a dad.
In addition to his writing, Brian has worked in the arts since 2005. He’s currently the program director at Artist Trust, a nonprofit organization that provides grants, professional development, and resources for artists of all disciplines in Washington State. Brian oversees the strategy for the organization’s programs and is part of its leadership team. He travels around the state leading workshops on the business of being an artist and speaks on panels and at conferences on artist issues in the region. He also facilitates the organization’s six grantmaking programs. The Artist Trust board crowned him “King of Advocating for Artists.” (They really did give him a crown.)
Before Artist Trust, Brian was the program director at Hugo House where he oversaw the literary center’s education programs, events, residences, and fellowships. Starting part-time at the front desk, he worked his way through nearly every position over the course of his 10 years and led the organization through several leadership transitions. He organized thousands of readings and events, working with writers such as Anthony Doerr, Roxane Gay, Pam Houston, Michelle Tea, Jess Walter, and many others. For several years, he curated and hosted the Hugo Literary Series and created Hugo House’s fellowship program and co-created its Word Works series.
Throughout his career, Brian has been a champion for artists and writers. For a decade, he curated, with author Steve Barker, Seattle’s coolest reading series, Cheap Wine & Poetry and Cheap Beer & Prose, pairing local writers with $1 beers and cups of two-buck Chuck. He was the director of Lit Crawl Seattle, the city’s booziest night of readings, in 2015; an ambassador for On the Boards, a contemporary dance and theatre space, in 2014 & 2015; the curator of the Seattle City Council’s Words’ Worth Poetry Series in 2007; and is currently a member of the Individual Artist Support Committee for Grantmakers in the Arts and an advisory board member of Mineral School, a writers’ residency in rural Washington State.
For his work in the arts, Brian was shortlisted for The Stranger Genius Award in 2010 and named one of the Power 50 Culture Makers by City Arts Magazine in 2011.