In Episode 42, we talk to New York photographer & Fast Company digital photo editor Samir Abady about creating photo narratives, being authentic in your art, and how the current moment provides new context to old work.
Samir Abady is a documentary photographer and photo editor born and based in Queens, New York to Lebanese parents. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from St. John’s University (2012), he attended the International Center of Photography for Documentary Photography and Photojournalism (2014), receiving the John and Anna Maria Phillips Foundation Scholarship and the Eddie Adams Workshop (2017). Since then he has been honored to be selected for American Photography 32 and was a finalist for the portrait prize in Australia’s Head On Photo Festival in 2016. He has photographed for The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed News, and Fast Company and his work has appeared in Refinery29, The Village Voice, Juxtapoz, and FeatureShoot.
This episode was recorded on December 14, 2020. 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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
People, Places, and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
“[I’m] photographing without a story most of the time until the rare occasion that [I] see something and call it a project; so I’m just kind of piecing together conceptually and finding a thread related to the pictures I’m selecting and calling that a narrative.” @Samir_
“A buddy of mine…said, ‘Oh it’s an interesting time to showcase meeting places and people in either bars or on the street or what have you, hanging out, because we don’t have that.’ I never thought about it as a commentary on our times until he brought that up.” @Samir_
“[The pandemic] makes me miss, more than anything, contextual relationships with people. Like if you’re a regular at a place and you only know so-and-so person at that place on Thursdays, that’s something totally missing. I might not know that person’s name, but I talk to him every week.” @Samir_
“Where it’s fun to kind of find meaning is when you put picture A next to picture B, and do they say something to each other when they’re followed by picture C? That’s, I think, where the wild creativity can come in.” @Samir_
“If I had to think about what the reoccurring motif is [in my work] it’s the idea of why I’m photographing people to begin with. It’s always kind of these […] smaller communities. I just try to make them seem as normal as possible, whether it be a sex worker or hidden bookstore or whatever it may be; it’s people, with a common language, and perhaps interest or lifestyle, just finding each other.” @Samir_
It’s a new semester and a new year! In Episode 41, Katie and Dan discuss their goals for their teaching and the podcast in 2021.
This episode was recorded on January 1, 2021. 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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“I like talking about what’s happening in the current moment…really trying to make the class feel relevant for them and use it as a way to help make sense of what’s going on around them.” @KatieARobison
“Every single day I felt like in the semester was totally different. There was a new challenge. There was a new way to approach writing. There was a new question. There was a new crisis to confront.” @ddissinger
“I think one of the aims of our podcast is really to make these kinds of conversations that we’re having within the university accessible and available to people outside the university, and then at the same time invite other people in and hear their perspectives so it’s not just like we’re stuck up in the ivory tower, trapped in an echo chamber. We want to broaden that discussion, that conversation.” @KatieARobison
“We can come together and put aside differences to understand what our job is, and that is to create a meaningful academic experience, and humane experience, for our students and each other.” @ddissinger
Dan and guest host Aimee Herman (from Episode 4) kick off 2021 by talking to poet/co-founder Jane Ormerod and writer/editor David Lawton of NYC small press Great Weather for Media. They discuss the challenges of running a small press during a pandemic, the power of poetry, and tips for submitting your work.
There’s still time to be in their next anthology! Submit your work by January 15th, 2021. You can find all the guidelines and the submission portal here. You can also purchase their anthologies and solo poetry collections on their website. Use the promo code PODCAST21 for 20% off your purchase. Support this amazing small press! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Jane Ormerod is the author of the full-length poetry collections Welcome to the Museum of Cattle and Recreational Vehicles on Fire (both from Three Rooms Press), and the chapbook 11 Films (Modern Metrics/EXOT Books). Her work also appears in numerous publications, including From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream, Maintenant, Marsh Hawk Press Review, POSTstranger, The Pedestal, Sensitive Skin, and Paris Lit Up. She is a recipient of a 2020 Acker Award and is a founding editor at great weather for MEDIA, an independent press focusing on unpredictable and innovative poetry and prose. www.greatweatherformedia.com Learn more on her website: janeormerod.com.
David Lawton is the author of Sharp Blue Stream (Three Rooms Press) and has had his work published in numerous journals and anthologies. David is a graduate of the theatre program at Boston University, where he was also a Guest Artist in the graduate playwriting classes taught by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. For ten years he was a background vocalist in the New York underground band Leisure Class. At the band’s de facto headquarters in the Chelsea Hotel, he befriended Beat godfather Herbert Huncke and San Francisco poet Marty Matz, and was inspired by their embodiment of the written word. David also serves as an editor for greatweatherforMEDIA and collaborates with poet Aimee Herman in the poemusic collective Hydrogen Junkbox.
Aimee Herman is a two-time Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York, and an adjunct professor at Bronx Community College. Aimee Herman (they/them) is the author of the novel, “Everything Grows” (Three Rooms Press) and two full length books of poems, “meant to wake up feeling” (great weather for MEDIA) and “to go without blinking” (BlazeVOX books), in addition to being widely published in journals and anthologies including BOMB, cream city review, and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books). Aimee is a queer writer and educator and a founding member alongside David Lawton in the poetry band, Hydrogen Junkbox.
This episode was recorded on December 21. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups (and the ambient sounds of NYC!). Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“I think one of the interesting things about [Great Weather for Media] is that a number of us come from other disciplines and…apply some of the other things we learned in the other disciplines to writing poetry and then editing poetry and prose in our anthologies.” -David Lawton @greatweatherfor
“I’m much more aware of the things that have been taken away from me, my gratitude for my community […] I’m someone that lives alone already, and normally I like living alone. It’s been hard because I don’t have my community.” -David Lawton @greatweatherfor
“I think that all of us found [our poem of the week series] really nurturing. It felt like we were giving something back, and something was coming back to us. And then after that, it felt like we were ready to do the next step, which was starting the open mics again.” -Jane Ormerod @greatweatherfor
“I think there’s some really interesting things that have come out of this [time]. And we’re all beginning to feel a little more comfortable doing readings online as well.” -Jane Ormerod @greatweatherfor
“Just as people are getting an awareness and a greater appreciation for small businesses and are being encouraged to support small businesses, that’s the hope for small presses too.” -David Lawton @greatweatherfor
“Small presses are necessary to keep things bubbling. If it ends up being just the big presses, certainly, especially for something like poetry, it’s not a healthy thing.” -David Lawton @greatweatherfor
“The intimacy of an independent press is what we need to keep alive because it’s not about making money, it’s about we need to get these words out there because these words need to be read.” -Aimee Herman
In Episode 39, we talk to beauty editors (and USC alum) Kamala Kirk and Lizzy Sherman about their website Spa and Beauty Today. We also chat about freelance writing and content creation, writing about your passions, pitching your work to editors, writing for digital vs. print outlets, doing social media copy, and carving out your own space.
Kamala Kirk is a University of Southern California graduate and has been an editor/writer for more than a decade. She is the editor of The Argonaut and has written for E! Online, Total Beauty, TravelAge West, Malibu Times Magazine, and many more. She resides in Los Angeles and is a proud pug mom. Follow her on Instagram: @kamalakirk.
Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer/editor. She has been a featured guest speaker at Cal State University Northridge, Digital LA and The National Association of Audience Marketing Professionals. When she’s not writing, Lizzy enjoys yoga and playing guitar. Follow her on Instagram: @zillizy.
This episode was recorded on December 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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity that writers have to be able to explore new places, meet really interesting people, and ask them questions that the normal person wouldn’t necessarily be able to and just get to learn and explore while creating a profession.” @zillizy16 @spabeautytoday
“All these different opportunities come up that you maybe don’t think of at the time, but someone else comes across your content and wants to collaborate with you, or you end up discovering a new product that you write about…It’s been really fun just being open-minded and seeing what comes our way and trying different things out.” -Kamala Kirk @spabeautytoday
“With freelancing, it can be a wonderful thing. You can kind of create your own schedule and have more freedom. But…you have to be responsible. You have to be able to meet deadlines. You have to be able to sit down and write.” -Kamala Kirk @spabeautytoday
“What I’ve found has worked for me is being able to write a lot of different subjects…Have experience in a few different areas, so that if one area is slow or you’re not getting as much work, there’s still other areas where you can get more writing work.” -Kamala Kirk @spabeautytoday
“It seems like the opportunities in digital are just constantly increasing, so even if it’s not what you want to do as your ultimate goal, I think learning the skills to be able to [write] for digital too and learning about SEO and stuff like that is definitely somewhere that you can find opportunities while you work toward whatever your goal is.” @zillizy16 @spabeautytoday
In Episode 38, we chat with Rebecca George about the nuts and bolts of owning and running an independent bookstore, particularly during 2020.
Rebecca George is the co-owner of Volumes Bookcafe and Volumes Bookstore in Chicago, IL. A former educator and writer, she now spends her time slinging books, reading books, talking about books, sleeping with books, and everything else with books.
This episode was recorded on December 7. 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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
Texts, People, and Booksellers Mentioned in the Episode
“You can tell people are reading more…They’re exhausted with computer screens…I think everyone wants to get out of where they are right now, and books are the one thing that can transport them there, effectively.” -Rebecca George @volumesbooks
“It seems like people…this year are really trusting in small business…What do they want their neighborhood to look like? What’s important to them to stay in their community after all this?” -Rebecca George @volumesbooks
“I think that the one thing that people coming out of MFAs [need to realize] is that not everyone becomes a writer, and I think that the best thing you can do is find ways to champion other people’s writing.” -Rebecca George @volumesbooks
In Episode 37, we reflect on the fall semester–and this tumultuous year–with USC Writing Program faculty members Stephanie Renée Payne, P.T. McNiff, and Sarah Orem. We discuss the unveiling power of 2020, the new approaches we’ll carry forward in our teaching, and the importance of self-care and rest.
Stephanie Renée Payne teaches writing in both the freshman and advanced writing seminars at the University of Southern California. Payne’s special topics include experiential and collaborative learning using the city of Los Angeles as an extended campus in her Food & Culture course in the Advanced Writing seminar. Payne’s aim in collaborative and experiential learning is to foster within her students a consideration of the self, the intersection of self with the other, and the self and the other within multiple environments to produce thoughtful, rich, and probing writing that is relevant in a 21st century context. Payne writes non-fiction and fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and commercial print publications. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
P.T. McNiff is an Associate Professor in the Writing Program at the University of Southern California. He received a masters in fiction writing from USC and a bachelors in English & Communication from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been teaching both first-year and advanced writing for over a decade; for the last five years, he has also co-taught a summer workshop in creative writing for high school students. In addition, he has served on numerous faculty governance committees at the program, college, and university levels. He writes fiction, non-fiction, and overly long text messages.
This episode was recorded on November 30. 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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“I want to call this the year of equity and the year of unveiling…As a population, we’re different because we’ve had to look at ourselves differently and we’ve had to look at the world differently” -Stephanie Renée Payne
“I feel like the pushback on what we all agree is this sort of reassessing–realigning how we’re doing this–is that it’s gonna somehow inevitably lead to a lowering of standards, and that’s such a false dichotomy.” @ptmcniff
“So many things have happened that have exposed the flaws in this country and exposed the flaws in this world, but I do think that we’re being asked to be better. We’re being asked to be better for ourselves, and we’re being asked to be better for our students.” -Stephanie Renée Payne
“These Writing 150s, these Writing 340s…seem to be meaningful for the students because it was one of the few places where there was discussion, there was conversation, there was a professor knowing their name and getting to know them.” -@s_orem
“Let’s decouple our traditions and our expectation of what’s supposed to happen from what we actually do and what’s actually possible and think about what’s possible and how we can improve things.” @ptmcniff
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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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 Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
“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
“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
“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
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 Podcasts, Spotify, 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
“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
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 Podcasts, Spotify, 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)
“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
“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