Episode 36: Daring to Hope with Anwar Uhuru

In Episode 36, we talk to Dr. Anwar Uhuru about using literature to start conversations about racial justice, reprioritizing the mental health of faculty and students, centering the oppressions and experiences of other people, and grappling with the construction of gender roles and categories.

Anwar Uhuru is an Assistant Professor of African Diaspora Literature and culture at Monmouth University. They are currently writing their forthcoming book, The Insurrectionist Case for Reparations: Race, Value and Ethics, that will be published through SUNY Press. Their recent publications include, “Textual Mysticism: Reading the Sublime in Philosophical Mysticism” in the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience and “Thoughts on the shooting in Orlando: Autobiography as Activism” in Humanities Review. Their research interests include Black Existentialism, African American and Africana Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Black Male Studies, Surveillance, and Carceral Studies.

This episode was recorded on November 17. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I’ve been thinking about reparations, but not in a fiscal sense […] I’m more concerned with what does it mean to value a whole person beyond a monetary compensation? And of course, I’m not telling anyone don’t take the check, quite the opposite […] but I’m more so concerned about what does it mean for American society to value a Black life, singular, and then Black lives in general?” @AnwarUhuru

“What would it mean for this country and then the world to value Black life period?” @AnwarUhuru

“We don’t talk about culture shock in the reverse where there’s a singular demographic that rules the majority.” @AnwarUhuru

“The students often get a bad letter on them when often they’re open to [discussions about their privileges]. It’s the colleagues I find that stay in that little pit of privilege, and when you call that out that’s when the tensions and meetings, etc. percolate.” @AnwarUhuru

“A lot of students have said thank you so much for just daring to teach this stuff or having the conversation because oftentimes professors don’t want to talk about it.” @AnwarUhuru

“If you don’t get questioned, then you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I stopping to learn and being open to a different perspective?'” @AnwarUhuru

“My whole project is to get people to think about how narratives are constructed that show up in the real world.”  @AnwarUhuru

“We want students to be thinking about their thinking and not just idly going through things.” @AnwarUhuru

“Everybody’s like ‘Oh, we just have to do that so we go back to normal’ and I’m like who’s normal are we talking about here? That normal, I don’t want that. We really need to be thinking about a new way.” @AnwarUhuru

“Just checking in on all the PTSD that we’ve all been experiencing, with not just COVID, but also literally watching a lynching. It’s become kind of cliché now, but that’s still fresh […] as well as what happened with Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and then the list just keeps going on and on, and I don’t want to forget about trans people who’ve lost their lives this year either, as well as people who just lost their lives. All that’s just whirling around in very real-time. So […] the people in charge [of the University] really have to take this into account as opposed to saying, ‘Make an appointment with counseling services.'” @AnwarUhuru

“I want us to think about [James] Baldwin outside of the protester, essayist, novelist, or the queer theorist or queer person and think about how is he grappling with what does it mean to be gendered male, raced Black, and then thinking about loving someone of the same gender during his time and even post-Civil Rights movement. How is he still pushing back against this notion and how when you’re of that construct you’re kind of an amalgamation in everyone else’s eyes except for your own.” @AnwarUhuru

“I’m really grappling in my research with Black masculinity as well as the non-binary discourse.” @AnwarUhuru

“There’s a lot of work done in Feminist Womanist theory [on gender constructs], and rightfully so, but what would it mean for the ‘other gender’ to think about themselves as a construct too, and how does that impact not just racial construction, but also class and national identities, as well as sexuality?” @AnwarUhuru

“When we just look at the binary of male-female, females never get to just be girls for as long as they want to. It’s like, alright, you just get to skip and jump and then soon as puberty hits you’re a woman now, and then literally the shackles of society are on your ankles in ways that boys, for the most part, get to be boys for as long as they want.” @AnwarUhuru

“We’re really in a great space to reconfigure what does it mean to be male, female, or non-conforming in ways that would be super fruitful for society.” @AnwarUhuru

“I know that when I pursued a Ph.D. and then a tenure-track, I wanted to do it on my terms as much as possible, as opposed to being shaped into what someone else wanted me to be. I knew that would not work.” @AnwarUhuru

“I dare to have an audacity of hope, even in this dark chapter we’re all in.” @AnwarUhuru

Episode 35: Transforming as a Writer with Nate Jordon

In Episode 35, we talk to writer, photographer, and RV-er Nate Jordon about masculinity, fatherhood, vulnerability, and coming into your own as a writer. We also talk about seeing beyond the myth of our literary idols, combining writing with other skills, getting involved in your community, pitching your work, running a small press, and writing from the road.

Nate Jordon is a writer and photographer in Pueblo, Colorado. After decades of traveling and working in several beautiful states, Nate has finally planted roots in 2020. His passion for Colorado began in 2006, when he originally moved to Boulder for graduate school. Nate continues to travel with his wife and three kids, exploring the Centennial State and the entire Southwest. His musings about travel, his tragic attempt at full-time RVing, his misadventures in Dadhood and all things Dadlife and other viscera can be found at natejordon.com and screamsfromthetrees.com.

This episode was recorded on November 9. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I wanted to experience the edges of reality…My attitude was if I don’t have these experiences, I’ll have nothing to write about…Well, I’ll tell you, I kind of had a reality check.” @NateJordon

“Having all of these life experiences that were basically one imaginary Beat party after another, to all of a sudden facing death, tragedy, grief, heartache, it not only transformed who I was, but it transformed my work.” @NateJordon

“Our culture is built upon myth-making.” @NateJordon

“It comes part and parcel sometimes with what we do; there’s drugs and alcohol involved, but the message gets misconstrued, and the reality is for all the drinking and the drugs that are involved in the arts, it doesn’t really create art. It just creates alcoholics and drug addicts. It destroys lives and relationships. That’s the truth.” @NateJordon

“What really matters is the work.” @NateJordon

“In writing, I think there’s this idea of having a plus one. Like if you’re a good writer, that’s great…but if you add another skill, it makes you a little more marketable…[Photography] was my plus one.” @NateJordon

“I started getting involved in the community, and that led to a book deal.” @NateJordon

“Learning about the publishing world was transformative.” @NateJordon

“”If you write it someone will listen…If it’s just one person, maybe that is who you need to be writing to, not trying to meet the arbitrary demands of an audience you don’t know about.” @NateJordon

“I wake at 4:35 in the morning to write because I love it, not because anyone is paying me for it.” @NateJordon

“It’s not about the money, but at some point the money does become important.” @NateJordon

“Vulnerability is the most powerful force behind all art.” @NateJordon

“I opened myself up and started becoming more human in my work.” @NateJordon

Episode 34: Remixing Poetry with Dan Dissinger

In Episode 34, we turn the interview on the host! Tune in to hear Dan break down his journey as a photographer, poet, and professor. Afterward, be sure to check out his performance of Remix Poetix @Inspired Word (Astoria, NY)!

This episode was recorded on November 2. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People, Texts, and Places Mentioned in the Episode

“There are people in my poems, but everyone’s ambiguous. It’s also much more on a micro level, like capturing a body part or capturing a moment on the body or capturing a moment from the past or the future or the present and staying on it and using, sometimes, the page where there might be a small block of text, and that might act like a photograph.” @ddissinger

“I like silence, so a lot of the times when I’m reading in person, I’ll purposely stop in the middle of the poem…to then just sit in this moment of silence, to hear if I can hear the silence in the room. I want to hook the audience in. If I hear that silence, I know that they’re listening to me.” @ddissinger

“Don’t worry about silence. Sit in it. Let the students feel it.” @ddissinger

“I particularly enjoy that moment where I can softly sit in whatever it is that I’ve created.” @ddissinger

“I lot of how I revise any writing comes from hearing it…If I can’t read it out loud comfortably, then I’ve done something wrong writing it.” @ddissinger

“[Hip hop] helps me understand the way a word’s going to feel to say.” @ddissinger

“I also do this thing…called Remix Poetix, where I have all my poems in binders…Taking inspiration from DJ culture and that idea of digging through the crates, I would take my binders and think: what if they were turntables? What would happen if I took what I had and created an improvised poem?” @ddissinger

Episode 33: Thinking in Different Dimensions of Story (or Choosing Fencing over Law School) with Kat Howard

In Episode 33, we talk to award-winning author Kat Howard about doing research for fantasy fiction, retelling familiar stories from new perspectives, collaborating on a comic series, learning from different genres, digging into the revision process, finding inspiration in poetry and nonfiction, and much more!

Kat Howard is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror who lives and writes in New Hampshire. Her novella, The End of the Sentence, co-written with Maria Dahvana Headley, was one of NPR’s best books of 2014, and her debut novel, Roses and Rot was a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. An Unkindness of Magicians was named a best book of 2017 by NPR, and won a 2018 Alex Award. Her recent short fiction collection, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone collects work that has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, performed as part of Selected Shorts, and anthologized in year’s best and best of volumes, as well as new pieces original to the collection. She’s currently the writer for The Books of Magic, part of DC Comics’ Sandman Universe. Her next novel, A Sleight of Shadows, is the sequel to An Unkindness of Magicians, and will be out in 2020. In the past, she’s been a competitive fencer and a college professor. You can find her @KatwithSword on Twitter and on Instagram and learn more at her website.

This episode was recorded on October 26. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
  • An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
  • A Sleight of Shadows by Kat Howard
  • A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard
  • Books of Magic (DC Comics) by Kat Howard (writer), Tom Fowler (penciler), Marissa Louise (colorist), Jordan Boyd (colorist), Brian Churilla (inker), Craig Taillefer (inker), Todd Klein (letterist), Molly Mahan (editor), Amedeo Turturro (editor), Chris Conroy (editor), Maggie Howell (assistant editor), and Kai Carpenter (cover artist)
  • Becky Krug
  • Fran Wilde
  • Amy Meyerson
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Lightspeed Magazine
  • Marissa Lingen
  • Richard Siken
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
  • Tana French
  • Bobbie Louise Hawkins

“I had to make sure that I was telling the story that needed to be told, not the story that I wanted to tell.” @KatWithSword

“I never really grew out of that grad school research urge, so even though I write fantasy fiction and things like that, I’m always like, let me make a huge stack of books that I can read and take notes on before I start writing this novel.” @KatWithSword

“All the things that I really loved about reading the works of literature and studying the literature of the medieval period or myths, fairy tales, all the stuff like that, I feel like it’s in my writerly DNA, so it keeps popping up back in my work even when I’m not necessarily doing it consciously.” @KatWithSword

“As the writer, you figure out how to tell the story to your artist. And then your artist figures out how to tell the story to your readers…It’s very much a collaboration in the effort of how do we get this on the page in a way that’s interesting and effective and that takes full advantage of the fact that this isn’t just a written medium…Starting to think in different dimensions of story…was really interesting.” @KatWithSword

“There are definitely still things I do [in short fiction] because it [offers] different possibilities than long form fiction. I think it’s a lot easier to experiment with voice or style…It’s a way to be adventurous.” @KatWithSword

“Drafting isn’t fun, but revision is great.” @KatWithSword

“One of the things I have to do is go back and remind myself that, for most people, literary allusions and conversation is not actually plot.” @KatWithSword

“If I feel like I’m stuck in my own progress, I’ll grab a collection [of poetry] off the shelf and start flipping through it. That jumpstarts things for me.” @KatWithSword

“I find that there’ll be ideas in the nonfiction that work for fiction…I think of it as like being a magpie, collecting a bunch of shiny things…that fit in the back of my head until I need them for stories.” @KatWithSword

“I write better if I’m reading a lot.” @KatWithSword

“I definitely recommend fencing over law school.” @KatWithSword

Episode 32: Writing about Love and Grief and Also Aliens with Marissa Lingen

In Episode 32, we talk to sci-fi and fantasy author Marissa Lingen about writing speculative fiction and how to decide which shape a story should take. Marissa also shares advice for how to submit to short fiction markets, how to discover your process and fix a story that’s stuck, and what not to do with the world’s abundance of concrete. Be sure to check out her latest short story, “Grief as Faithful as My Hound,” out next week in Asimov’s. You can also find more of her work on her website.

This episode was recorded on October 19. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People, Texts, and Magazines Mentioned in the Episode
  • Sheila Williams
  • Asimov’s
  • Kurestin Armada
  • Colin Sullivan
  • Nature
  • Nancy Stohlman
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Lord Peter Wimsy stories
  • Meghan Nolan
  • Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
  • Orphan Black
  • “Macey” Jennifer Mace
  • Arkady Martine
  • John Chu
  • Django Wexler
  • Emma Goldman
  • Analog

“One of the things about science fiction that I like is that you can do all the things you can do in other genres, but also then you have this kind of extra wiggle room to play with…You can tell stories about love and grief and the human heart, but you can also tell stories about: what if things were different? And I think that’s important for trying to make things different in the world.” @MarissaLingen

“I think one of the things that appeals to me most about science fiction and fantasy is that there’s just that little bit of extra that’s not nailed down that sometimes gives me another angle on what I’m seeing in the real world, so that I don’t have to take on problems head-on; I can kind of come at them sideways.” @MarissaLingen

“Short stories are kind of my instant gratification.” @MarissaLingen

“You grow and you shift with time, and things change about your life circumstances, and your process has to change with it.” @MarissaLingen

“The most successful dystopian or negative premises are the ones that allow people room to say: okay, so what else?” @MarissaLingen

“Voice and implication are the two tools I use most in flash.” @MarissaLingen

“Flash [fiction] is usually just one crystalized idea…and it doesn’t have any moving parts really. Whereas when I’m writing a longer short story, it’s less, hey look at this cool thing, and more, let’s move through an arc of this cool thing.” @MarissaLingen

Episode 31: Exploring Voice and Genre with Ellen Wayland-Smith

In Episode 31, we talk to author and professor Ellen Wayland-Smith about her new book, The Angel in the Marketplace. We also talk about teaching students genre expectations and boundaries (and how to step beyond them) as well as how to incorporate voice and personal experience into academic writing.

Ellen Wayland-Smith is an associate professor of Writing at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well Set Table (Picador, 2016) and of The Angel in the Marketplace: Jean Wade Rindlaub and the Selling of America (University of Chicago Press, March 2020). Her essays and reviews have appeared in Signature Reads, Catapult, The Millions, and Longreads.

This episode was recorded on October 12. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
  • The Angel in the Marketplace: Adwoman Jean Wade Rindlaub and the Selling of America by Ellen Wayland-Smith
  • Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table by Ellen Wayland-Smith
  • The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • “The Devil’s Bait” by Leslie Jamison (from The Empathy Exams)
  • “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” by Robert Browning
  • Paterson by William Carlos Williams
  • The California Poem by Eleni Sikelianos
  • Langston Hughes

“That’s one thing that I found interesting in my research was seeing just how much roleplaying there really was [in the 1940s and 50s] and how almost conscious they were themselves that these were not in any way sort of biologically predetermined or predestined roles. They were very much a fiction that they were constructing.” @EllenWaylands

“Exploring different genres and talking about academic writing as opposed to other kinds of non-fiction writing…has made me much more creative, I think, in my approach to [Writing 340] and has helped me expand the kinds of writing that I see as useful…and as something I want to introduce students to.” @EllenWaylands

“There isn’t good writing and bad writing. There’s writing that meets its rhetorical aim and the genre expectations of the audience that you’re aiming it to. And there’s writing that doesn’t, or that does it less well.” @EllenWaylands

“Your voice is part of your argument. Just because you have a voice doesn’t discredit your case. You can use your voice in order to weave a much more compelling and evidence-packed narrative. You can draw on different kinds of evidence. You can draw on the evidence of your body and your experience… That’s going to be actually a more compelling case than just doing this disembodied thing in which there’s no sort of identification between reader and writer.” @EllenWaylands

Episode 30: Opening Doors with Dan and Katie

For our 30th episode, we reflect on what we’ve learned from this podcast thirty episodes in and what podcasting as a genre offers academia in terms of embodied scholarship and archived, accessible knowledge production.

This episode was recorded on October 5. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“When you publish an essay or when you give a conference talk, you’re coming to that piece having already formulated your ideas, and you’re then sharing them with a public…What I’ve discovered through the course of doing this podcast is that because we’re having conversations…I’m actually formulating those thoughts in the moment, and that dialogue is helping me refine my ideas. So I may come to the episode with some ideas in mind, but it it’s in the course of having that conversation that I can arrive at new ones. I love that collaborative aspect of it.” @KatieARobison

“You and I are creating an archive of academic discourse that anyone can go back in and listen to. Whereas if I go to a conference, if you’re not there, you don’t get to see that.” @ddissinger

“When I think of a podcast as a genre…the genre is archive…It’s an archive of knowledge that just continues to permeate and hybridize each episode.” @ddissinger

“That’s what I love about having these discussions and having this dialogue in the moment…I can then incorporate that into my praxis immediately. My pedagogy has changed fundamentally as a result of doing this podcast.” @KatieRobison

“[Podcasting is] the opposite of gatekeeping. We’re opening doors.” @KatieARobison

“Vulnerability I think for our podcast is key.” @ddissinger

“What I love about podcasting is that we get to bring our full selves to the medium.” @KatieARobison

“We should be academics that actually acknowledge the 21st century reality.” @ddissinger

Episode 29: (Im)Perfecting the Novel with Amy Meyerson and Natalie Hallak

In Episode 29, we talk to novelist Amy Meyerson and editor Natalie Hallak about Amy’s latest book, The Imperfects. Along the way, we chat about writing research-based fiction, the author-editor relationship and the collaborative nature of publishing, balancing writing and reading with other responsibilities, writing what you want to know, and when to use the F-word.

Amy Meyerson is the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays, which will be translated into 11 languages. She has been published in numerous literary magazines and teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her graduate work in creative writing. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives in Los Angeles. Her new novel, The Imperfects, was published in May 2020.

Natalie Hallak is an Editorial Assistant at Park Row Books. Prior to joining Harlequin in 2015, Natalie honed her editorial skills during internships at Touchstone, Putnam, and Writers House Literary Agency. She is building her list in literary fiction with commercial appeal across a variety of genres, as well as select narrative nonfiction.

This episode was recorded on September 28. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“The sign of a really good editor is that they’re good at pinpointing what’s wrong but give you the space to fix it yourself.” @amy_meyerson

“If you want to be publishing regularly, you always have to have more than one book in your head at a time…I like to be working on one while another one is steeping.” @amy_meyerson

“I think [writing what you know] is true in that granular sense…but for me I’m interested more in writing what I want to know.” @amy_meyerson

“Use what you know to write what you imagine.” @NatalieHallak

“My role [as an editor] is constantly advocating for the book and for Amy in house and just getting people really excited about it…kind of like an in-house champion, if you will. But it’s really a matter of overseeing every step of the process.” @NatalieHallak

“Editors do not read all day. They read on their own time and on weekends, whenever they can. During the day it’s a lot of that in-house advocacy, a lot of talking to the other departments and talking with authors and making sure that [they’re] happy..and that I’m representing [their] needs.” @NatalieHallak

“There’s only one name on the front of the book, but…[it’s] the product of so many more people.” @amy_meyerson

“Always do the writing first.” @amy_meyerson

“I’ve gotten very fast at knowing if a book is for me or not for me…It’s a very subjective industry that way.” @NatalieHallak

“It’s very validating when a book that you put so much time and effort into…when all of that work really pays off and the book takes off and does super well. It’s one of the best feelings.” @NatalieHallak

Episode 28: Self-Care Confessional with Dan and Katie

In Episode 28, Dan and Katie talk about self-care and how important it is to prioritize our mental and emotional well-being, especially in the current moment.

This episode was recorded on September 21. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

“Carving out some time that is protected–for yourself, for you to be with your family or friends, or to walk your dog, or whatever it is–that’s a baby step that can help a lot and is really important…The work will always be there.” @KatieARobison

“Now, more than ever, it’s so easy to get burned out. We’re in the middle of a crisis the likes of which we’ve never experienced. I don’t think we even fully comprehend how emotionally draining this is and all the uncertainty that we’re facing and trying to process every day. I think we just need to be kind to ourselves as well as our students, and I think that’s what will make us better professors and more able to actually help our students. If we’re not taking care of ourselves, how can we help anyone else?” @KatieARobison

“I have to revise the way I approach my own humanity.” @ddissinger

“We are not just teachers. We are sometimes a therapist. We’re sometimes a social worker. We’re sometimes a shoulder to cry on. We’re sometimes an activist. We take on so many different roles.” @ddissinger

Episode 27: Speaking Against Racism with Taiyaba Husain

In Episode 27 we talk to Professor Taiyaba Husain of the USC Writing Program about recent incidents of racism in our community and how to empower students to challenge racism in the classroom, the university, and everywhere they find it.

This episode was recorded on September 14. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“We’re not all a monolith in how we think about [things], and I think that’s important to acknowledge.” @TaiyabaHusain

“I’ve always said to my students, you know, part of this process, if we’re going to do this together, actually is forgiveness…We are going to maybe speak in ways that are unintentionally oblivious, that maybe are unkind or unknowing…If we are to keep having these difficult conversations, there has to be some ability to forgive.” @TaiyabaHusain

“If we are, from semester to semester, class to class, if we’ve been complacent…dropping the same joke, doing the same thing, this is an opportunity…to actually do new things, to respond to the moment.” @TaiyabaHusain

“I asked them [students] what do you want from me? To your mind, what is my role as your instructor? How can I help you become a better writer? A better thinker?” @TaiyabaHusain

“If we have expectations of [students]…what are [their] expectations of us?” @TaiyabaHusain