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Why We Write
29 minutes | Nov 22, 2022
In ‘A Fractured Infinity,’ a sci-fi love story spans the metaverse
Creative Writing alum Nathan Tavares talks about his debut novel, "A Fractured Infinity," a sci-fi love story that's "like the movie 'Arrival,' but really gay." In this episode, Nathan gives us a view into writing sci-fi, his career as a freelance journalist, and what he learned in his MFA program. Read more about Nathan and our MFA in Creative Writing program. P.S. See Nathan speak about his book live at Brookline Booksmith on Dec. 7.
31 minutes | Nov 1, 2022
A.J. Verdelle's 'Literary Friendship' with Toni Morrison
Episode notes Being friends with Toni Morrison, one of the most influential writers in American literature was a life-changing experience for A.J. Verdelle, but it came with its ups and downs. A.J. writes about her relationship with the Beloved author, including their "two and a half spats" in Miss Chloe: A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison. In this episode, A.J. sits down with nonfiction author Jane Brox to give us insight into her writing process and the impact of being chosen by Toni Morrison.About our guest A. J. Verdelle is the award-winning author of the novel, The Good Negress, as well as a number of essays and short stories. She was awarded the Whiting Award in fiction, the Vursell Distinguished Fiction Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Bunting Fellowship and the NEA Critical Studies Award. She was also a finalist for PEN/Faulkner Award. A.J. teaches in Lesley's MFA in Creative Writing program. Mentioned in this episode: ‘Miss Chloe’ recounts A.J. Verdelle’s friendship with Toni Morrison Get writing advice from A.J. on Ep. 35 of Why We Write The sound of 'Silence' with Jane Brox
29 minutes | Oct 18, 2022
Emily Inouye Huey explores Japanese-American history in YA debut
Episode notes The forced relocation of thousands of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II profoundly shaped Emily Inouye Huey's family. Uprooted from their home on the West Coast, her great grandparents and grandparents were forced to live in a Wyoming internment camp, which is where her father was born. Inspired by her family's story, Emily wrote Beneath the Wide Silk Sky, a heartbreaking and beautiful story of a Japanese-American teenager in the days leading up to and following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In this episode, Emily shares her writing and research process, some questionable publishing advice she received (add werewolves?!), and the evergreen call to preserve human dignity.About our guest Emily Inouye Huey is the author of Beneath the Wide Silk Sky (Scholastic 2022). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and teaches at Salt Lake Community College. Besides books, her passions include education, the arts, the outdoors, and her family. More about Emily: Emily's website Follow Emily on Instagram Find a transcript on our episode page.
34 minutes | Oct 4, 2022
Sara Farizan on Chucky Dolls, an Evil Pinball Machine and Writing Horror
Lesley University alumna and Creative Writing faculty Sara Farizan talks about her first YA horror novel, Dead Flip, a not-too-scary of nostalgia, friendship, and an evil pinball machine. In this episode, she gives advice for writers about writing in a new genre and shares her own fears of Chucky Dolls, Stephen King novels, and more! Read more about Sara Farizan Sara discusses her novel "Here to Stay" on Why We Write. Sara interviews fellow YA writer Axie Oh. Find the transcript for this episode.
32 minutes | Sep 13, 2022
Grace K. Shim brings K-dramas to the page
Episode notes Growing up, Grace K. Shim relished the twists and turns of Korean dramas. Now, she's written one of her own with her YA debut, The Noh Family, in which recent high school graduate Chloe Chang discovers through a DNA test that she has family in Korea...and they're not only rich but they've got lots of secrets. Drama ensues. On the episode, Grace talks about how her story overlaps with her character's, why she took up writing, and the rise of Asian American voices in publishing.About our guest Grace K. Chang ’05 received a master's degree from Lesley's Graduate School of Education. Grace grew up in Tulsa Oklahoma as one of two Korean-Americans at her high school (her sister was the other one). Today, Grace writes books with Korean-American protagonists that she wished she had read about as a teen. When she’s not plotting (the writing kind, not the world domination kind), you can find her wearing a Korean sheet mask, baking French macarons, and unintentionally killing house plants and succulents. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and three kids. More about Grace: Grace's website Follow Grace on Instagram and Twitter Listen to our interviews with more Asian American YA authors: Axie Oh's 'Rogue Heart' Author Andrea Wang on Growing up Chinese-American in the Midwest Find the transcript on the episode page.
35 minutes | Jun 20, 2022
Saraciea J. Fennell is Bringing Books to the Bronx
The Bronx is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell is working to get more books into the hands of young people, especially those who come from backgrounds similar to hers, through her organization, a yearly book festival, and one day a bookstore. Saraciea is also the editor of the acclaimed 2021 young adult anthology Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed, which features essays and poems by Latinx authors such as Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi about the myths, and stereotypes surrounding their culture and identity. In this episode, Saraciea, a 2020 graduate of our MFA in Creative Writing program, discusses her own essay about being put into foster care as a kid and how she wants to effect change in her corner of New York City.About our guest Saraciea J. Fennell is a Black Honduran writer and the founder of The Bronx is Reading. She is also a book publicist who has worked with many award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors. Fennell sits on the board for Latinx in Publishing as well as on the Advisory Board of People of Color in Publishing. Learn more about Saraciea, her book, and her newsletter on her website. Follow Saraciea on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok Find a transcript of this interview on our episode page.
25 minutes | Jun 7, 2022
Rebecca Rolland on 'The Art of Talking with Children'
Episode notes Whether you're a parent, teacher, or simply someone who will one day in encounter a child, Rebecca Rolland ’17 has advice for how to respond to kids, and most importantly, how to listen. Find a transcript of this episode on our show page.About our guest Rebecca Rolland is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and serves on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. She is also an oral and written language specialist in the Neurology Department of Boston Children's Hospital. As a nationally certified speech-language pathologist, she has worked clinically with populations ranging from early childhood through high school and has provided teacher professional development. In addition to a master's in Creative Writing from Lesley, she has an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from the MGH Institute of Health Professions, an M.A. in English from Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Yale. Learn more about Rebecca, her book, and her newsletter on her website. Follow Rebecca on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
23 minutes | May 24, 2022
'Mother Noise' author Cindy House on addiction, parenting, and David Sedaris
With heartfelt, gritty, and sometimes humorous essays, Cindy House's memoir Mother Noise addresses her years of drug addiction, becoming a parent, and her long friendship with David Sedaris. Learn more about "Mother Noise." Hear Cindy read one of the essays from Mother Noise in Episode 16. Read our article Cindy House ’17 on David Sedaris, kicking heroin and why she wants to send 'everybody a cupcake’ About our guest Cindy House is an essayist, short story writer, artist, and a regular opener for David Sedaris on his tours across the country. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned an MFA from Lesley University in 2017. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband and son. A transcript and more podcast info are available on the episode page.
39 minutes | May 10, 2022
Starting a literary podcast with Tavi Taylor Black and Christine Junge
Tavi Taylor Black and Christine Junge are the podcasters behind The Personal Element, a monthly discussion about one essay that both writers loved. On this episode, they take us through their podcasting process, and we discuss an essay from Cindy House's forthcoming collection "Mother Noise." A transcript and more podcast info are available on the episode page. About our guests Christine Junge and Tavi Black met when they were working on their MFAs at Lesley University in the early 2000s. They became fast friends after sharing conversations about books, love, and life over meals in the cafeteria and drinks at the Lizard Lounge. Since graduating, they often read and critique each other’s work. They are both really excited to be sharing The Personal Element podcast with listeners. Follow the podcast on Instagram or Facebook. More about Christine Christine is currently shopping two novels to agents. She lives in San Jose, CA, with her husband and baby. She’s also hard at work on her next book, which features a character dealing with debilitating anxiety. You can read Christine's essay, which we talk about in Season 1: Episode 3, Taking Control of My Body Image, which was originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Find out more info about Christine on her website. More about Tavi Tavi lives on Vashon Island outside of Seattle with her husband, daughter, and a full household of pets. Tavi's debut novel with TouchPoint Press, Where Are We Tomorrow? is about four women working backstage on a rock tour. Her next projects are a historical fiction set in 1913 in Bar Harbor, Maine due out in January of 2023, and a middle-grade fantasy novel she wrote with her daughter. You can find out more about Tavi on her website or on Instagram.
9 minutes | Apr 26, 2022
National Poetry Month: Bonita Lee Penn finds joy in the "Death Doula's Song"
On our final National Poetry Month episode of the year, Bonita Lee Penn shares a hopeful poem inspired by death (no really). Find the transcript on our episode page. Today's guest Bonita Lee Penn is an alumna of our MFA in Creative Writing program, a Pittsburgh poet and the author of Every Morning a Foot is Looking for My Neck (Central Square Press). Her work has been included in the anthology Where We Stand: Poems of Black Resilience (2022 Cherry Castle Publishing); Taint Taint Taint Literary Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices, and others. Penn is also Managing Editor, Soul Pitt Quarterly Magazine, literary program coordinator with United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh, and Poetry Instructor for Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Workshop (Carlow University). Check out previous Poetry Month episodes: "Soft" by Staci Halt "the world as it is" by July Westhale "Memo to the Border Patrol Agent Who Poured Out the Water We Left in the Desert" by Robbie Gamble "The Translator" by Kevin Prufer "As for the Heart" by Erin Belieu "We Be Womxn" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo Cowboys and "The Dread" by Lydia Leclerc
7 minutes | Apr 19, 2022
National Poetry Month: Staci Halt imagines the wilds of New York City with 'Soft'
In our third National Poetry Month episode of the month, a visit to New York City expands Staci Halt's understanding of poetry and inspires her poem "Soft." A transcript of this episode, info about programs at Lesley University, and more podcast stuff can be found on the episode page. Today's guest Staci Halt is an MFA candidate at Lesley University and mother of six super cool humans and an unseemly number of fur children. Her poems were longlisted for Palette Poetry's Love & Eros Prize (2022), and her work can be found in McSweeny's and is forthcoming in Salamander Magazine. Check out previous Poetry Month episodes: "the world as it is" by July Westhale "Memo to the Border Patrol Agent Who Poured Out the Water We Left in the Desert" by Robbie Gamble "The Translator" by Kevin Prufer "As for the Heart" by Erin Belieu "We Be Womxn" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo Cowboys and "The Dread" by Lydia Leclerc
6 minutes | Apr 12, 2022
National Poetry Month: July Westhale Goes to the Moon's Moon
Episode notes July Westhale ’13 imagines life in outer space with her forthcoming poetry collection "Moon Moon." On this episode, she gives us a preview with "the world as it is." Find the transcript on our episode page. About our guest July Westhale ’13 holds an MFA in Poetry from Lesley. Westhale is a novelist, translator, and the award-winning author of six books, including "Via Negativa," which Publishers Weekly called "stunning" in a starred review. Her most recent work can be found in McSweeney’s, The National Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, CALYX, and The Huffington Post, among others. When she’s not teaching, she works as a co-founding editor of PULP Magazine. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Transatlantic. Learn more at www.julywesthale.co. Check out previous Poetry Month episodes: "Memo to the Border Patrol Agent Who Poured Out the Water We Left in the Desert" by Robbie Gamble "The Translator" by Kevin Prufer "As for the Heart" by Erin Belieu "We Be Womxn" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo Cowboys and "The Dread" by Lydia Leclerc
5 minutes | Apr 5, 2022
National Poetry Month: Robbie Gamble's Memo to a Border Patrol Agent
Our Poetry Month series returns! Every Tuesday in April we invite a Lesley poet to share a poem and speak briefly about their work. This year, we're starting with Robbie Gamble ’17, who reads and discusses "Memo to the Border Patrol Agent Who Poured Out the Water We Left in the Desert." Find the transcript on the episode page. About our guest Robbie Gamble ’17 holds an MFA in Poetry from Lesley. He is the author of A Can of Pinto Beans, from Lily Poetry Review Press (2022). His poems and essays have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Pangyrus, Poet Lore, RHINO, Rust + Moth, Spillway, Tahoma Literary Review, and The Sun, among other journals. Recipient of the Carve Poetry prize, and a Peter Taylor Fellowship at the Kenyon Summer Writers Workshop, he serves as poetry editor for Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. Robbie worked for 20 years as a nurse practitioner with Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and he now divides his time between Boston and Vermont. Check out last year's poems: "The Translator" by Kevin Prufer "As for the Heart" by Erin Belieu "We Be Womxn" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo Cowboys and "The Dread" by Lydia Leclerc
24 minutes | Mar 22, 2022
How to Read Poetry (and Why) with Kevin Prufer
Poetry is great, right? Why don't we read it more? Poet and professor Kevin Prufer gives us practical ways to start reading poetry and why it's (sometimes) better than fiction. This episode is all to get us ready for National Poetry Month, where we share a poem a week and the inspiration behind it. Check out last year's poems: "The Translator" by Kevin Prufer "As for the Heart" by Erin Belieu "We Be Womxn" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo Cowboys and "The Dread" by Lydia Leclerc For more information on Kevin Prufer, our MFA in Creative Writing program (where Kevin is a faculty member), and a transcript, visit our episode page.
32 minutes | Mar 1, 2022
Mean Girls meets Cheer in Hayley Krischer's 'The Falling Girls'
In Hayley Krischer's "The Falling Girls," a mysterious death, friendship, betrayal, and social media mix to create a "thrilleresque" and compulsively readable young adult novel with inspiration from Mean Girls, Heathers, and Netflix's Cheer. Hayley is a journalist whose work has been featured in the New York Times. In this episode, she talks about her books, rage writing during the pandemic, and her MFA experience with Emily Earle, our social media manager. Check out our episode notes for a transcript, links to topics discussed on the episode, and to learn more about our low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program.
33 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Hireath is the Welsh word you didn't know you needed
In her memoir, The Long Field: Wales and the Presence of Absence, Pamela Petro unfurls the meaning of hireath — a Welsh word that encompasses nostalgia, homesickness, and longing — and dissects all that that the word has meant to her as a gay woman, a creative writer, a daughter, a traveler and more. Mentioned in this episode: The Long Field is available from Book Depository Pamela's website Lesley's MFA in Creative Writing low-residency program Learn more about Pamela Petro and more on our episode page.
24 minutes | Feb 1, 2022
Margaret Chen's 'Suburban Gothic'
Margaret F. Chen's short story collection Suburban Gothic peers behind the facade of life in the 'burbs...and it gets a little dark. In this episode, Margaret discusses her fascination with suburbs, choosing to publish independently, and why she's going to stick to writing short stories. Mentioned in this episode: Lesley University's low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program A Short-Story Writer Publishes on Her Own Terms Kirkus review of Suburban Gothic Suburban Gothic and Three Terrible Tales are available from Politics and Prose Find all our episodes, show notes, and transcriptions at https://lesley.edu/podcasts/why-we-write.
29 minutes | Dec 14, 2021
A journey into the 'Blue Desert' with Celia Jeffries
In "Blue Desert," Celia Jeffries tells the story of a young English woman abducted by a nomadic tribe into the Sahara. In this episode, Celia talks about writing a story in a culture and time completely separate from her own as well as her long path to getting published. Celia is a graduate of the Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing program. For more info, visit our episode page. This is our final episode of the year. We'll be back in February with new shows. Email email@example.com if you have ideas for future episodes!
39 minutes | Nov 16, 2021
How to Survive NaNoWriMo
We're midway through National Novel Writing Month, and we've got two NaNoWriMo veterans to share their advice. Whether or not you're trying to pen 50,000 words on your novel this month or are thinking about setting writing goals, our NaNoWriMo alums Hurley Winkler and Julia Leef have practical tips for staying the course...and what to do when you don't make those daily word counts. Hurley and Julia are graduates of Lesley University's low-residency MFA in Creative Writing. Learn more about our guests, find links to items discussed today, and get a copy of the transcript on our episode page. This week's episode image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.
33 minutes | Nov 9, 2021
Buki Papillon's debut is No 'Ordinary Wonder'
Buki Papillon talks about her acclaimed debut "An Ordinary Wonder," a coming of age novel about Oto, an intersex teen growing up in Nigeria. Buki, an alumna of our MFA in Creative Writing program, talks about the drive that keeps her writing, rewriting almost her whole book after she got a book deal, and lots more. Janet Pocorobba, interim direct of Lesley University's MFA program, interviews Buki. Find the transcript and more on the episode page.
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