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New KTCO: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

This week on Keep the Channel Open, I'm talking with writer Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Rowan’s second novel, Starling Days, is a beautiful story about the complex love between the book’s two protagonists, Mina and Oscar, and their respective challenges in the wake of Mina’s suicide attempt. Starling Days explores family and love in many forms, and how people both connect and separate. In our conversation, Rowan and I discussed the depiction of mental illness in her book, how she approached writing the multifaceted relationships between the book’s characters, and why it was important to her to include multiracial characters. Then in the second segment, we talked about faith and how we make and find meaning.

Here are some links where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page on the KTCO website.

Starling Days is now available in paperback, and you can purchase a copy wherever books are sold. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy from an independent bookseller like Pages of Hackney in London, Greenlight Bookstore in New York, The Book Catapult in San Diego, or your local bookstore.

A few pieces that I found helpful in putting both our conversation and the book in context:

  • The first piece of Rowan's writing that I'd ever encountered was her essay "The Woman Scared of Her Own Kimono." The idea of being a stranger to your own ancestral culture is one that we discussed in our conversation, and one that's very relevant to the character of Oscar in Starling Days
  • In addition to being a writer, Rowan is also an illustrator. Her comic "An Agnostic's Longing" has a quiet, elegiac beauty to it, and I think it provides a good companion for some of what we discussed around faith and language.
  • Right around the time of the US publication of Starling Days, Rowan published an essay with LitHub called "How To Write a Novel When Everyone You Love Might Be Losing It." In it, she writes about negotiating wellness and sickness, and how even though fiction draws from real-life experience, it's not the same as autobiography.

New KTCO: Farrah Karapetian

This week on Keep the Channel Open, I'm talking with artist Farrah Karapetian. Known for her large-scale photograms, Farrah’s wide-ranging practice incorporates sculpture, performance, and different forms of mark-making to stretch the photographic medium as she is driven by her intense and rigorous curiosity. In our conversation, Farrah and I talked about the appeal of the photographic medium, the tension between constructing an image and the happy accident, and the ethics of artistic beauty. Then in the second segment, we discussed the Nardal sisters and how we develop a language around issues like exoticization.

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page at the KTCO website.

From the KTCO Archive: Ken Rosenthal

This week on Keep the Channel Open, I'm revisiting my 2016 conversation with photographer Ken Rosenthal. Ken's work has always stuck in my mind for both its striking visual style and the way that he uses images to represent and explore his internal emotional and psychological state. Whether he's looking at landscapes or family members or familiar objects, his photographs resonate because they represent the personal. We talked about several bodies of work, including his series The Forest and a series that was then a work-in-progress called Days On the Mountain. For the second segment, Ken and I talked about change, and how when it comes in our personal lives it can spur us to new heights in our work.

Since I first released our conversation, Ken has gone on to publish Days On the Mountain as a beautiful photobook via Dark Spring Press. You can order a copy directly from Ken via his website, either the book on its own, or a signed and numbered limited edition copy with a print.

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page at the KTCO website.

New KTCO: KTCO Book Club - Song (with Gabrielle Bates)

This week for the KTCO Book Club, I'm talking with poet and podcaster Gabrielle Bates about Brigit Pegeen Kelly's 1994 poetry collection, Song. In our conversation, Gabrielle and I talked about how Kelly builds the worlds of her poems, how the poems layer metaphor, and how the poems manage to be simultaneously (and paradoxically) both surreal and grounded.

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page at the KTCO website.

As always, I recommend purchasing copies of Song from your local independent bookstore, but if you don't have one available to you, Open Books in Seattle and The Book Catapult here in San Diego take online orders and can ship to you. (Those links will take you straight to the ordering pages for Song.) You can find links to Gabrielle Bates's work at her website, and you can listen to her podcast The Poet Salon (one of my favorite literary shows) in your favorite podcast app.

New KTCO: Kary Wayson

This week on Keep the Channel Open, I'm talking with poet Kary Wayson. The poems Kary’s latest collection, The Slip, are wonderfully slippery in both form and feeling, in a way that demands attention and rewards deep engagement. In our conversation we discussed what a poem can do, how we approach “meaning” in poetry, and how life changes affect our art. Then in the second segment, we talked about time and our human perception of duration.

Here are some links where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page on the KTCO website.

You can purchase a copy of The Slip directly from the publisher, or from an independent bookstore like Open Books in Seattle, The Book Catapult in San Diego, or your own local bookstore.

KTCO: Remembering Paula Riff

My friend Paula Riff passed away recently, after having been ill with cancer for two years. Paula was a wonderful, kind, generous, and enthusiastic person, and a brilliant artist whose work pushed the boundaries of the photographic medium. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to talk with her about that work for the show. In our conversation, Paula and I talked about what photography is to her, why she’s attracted to alternative processes, and how her work is ultimately autobiographical. Then for the second segment, we talked about the value of physical art spaces. In honor of her memory, I’m re-sharing our conversation today.

If you haven't experienced Paula's work before, I'd like to encourage you to do so. In order to see all of the subtle detail, texture, layering, it's really best to see it in person if you can. I'm not sure when or where it will be on walls in the future but if you get the chance, please take it. In the meantime, you can see it on her website at paulariff.com, including her newest series Cut, Paste, Breathe, Repeat, which she worked on right until the end.

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript on the episode page at the KTCO website.

New KTCO: KTCO Book Club - Tender (with Wm Henry Morris)

On this week's episode, the KTCO Book Club returns with a conversation with writer Wm Henry Morris about Sofia Samatar's 2017 story collection Tender. The stories in this collection range from fairy tale and folklore to dystopian sci-fi to (almost) contemporary realism, but all have in common Samatar’s impeccable prose, attention to detail, and exceptional readership.

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page at the KTCO website.

You can purchase paper copies of Tender at your local independent bookstore, or you can purchase a DRM-free ebook version directly from the publisher. You can find links to Wm Henry Morris's work at his website.

New KTCO: Kazim Ali

This week on Keep the Channel Open, I'm talking with writer Kazim Ali. Kazim’s latest poetry collection, The Voice of Sheila Chandra, uses sound to explode meaning and explore silence and voicelessness, bringing together history, philosophy, spirituality, and personal experience to create something truly profound. In our conversation, Kazim and I discussed the divine in art, what the sound of poetry can embody and enact, and the fundamental oneness of human life. Then for the second segment, we talked about music.

Here are some links where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript at the episode page on the KTCO website.

You can purchase a copy of The Voice of Sheila Chandra directly from the publisher, or at your local bookstore. Kazim's new memoir, Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water, is forthcoming in March 2021 and is now available for pre-order.

KTCO Re-Run: Rizzhel Javier

For the last KTCO of 2020, I'm revisiting my 2017 conversation with artist Rizzhel Javier. Rizzhel Javier is a photographer and installation artist based in San Diego, CA. I first met Rizzhel when we were both participating in the portfolio reviews at the Medium Festival a few years ago, and her stop-motion, flipbook-style pieces immediately caught my attention. More recently, Rizzhel was named one of the 2017 emerging artists by the SD Art Prize for her "Unmentionables" project, creating new art out of old mementos. We had a great conversation for the show about her artistic process, what she loves about making mistakes, and her experience as a teacher. For the second segment, Rizzhel chose the Philippines as her topic.

Since we recorded our conversation, Rizzhel has become the Managing Director of the AjA Project, a community arts education organization here in San Diego. You can support the AjA Project by buying one of their STEAM OnDemand workshop boxes, and for each box you buy, the organization will donate one to a student in the community. Or you can make a donation directly. Donations in any amount are appreciated, but if you can swing it, a $500 donation will cover workshop boxes for 30 students:

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript on the episode page at the KTCO website.

KTCO Re-run: José Olivarez

This week on Keep the Channel Open I'm revisiting my 2017 conversation with poet José Olivarez. In our wide-ranging conversation, José and I talked about how his podcast The Poetry Gods came to be, toxic masculinity in the poetry world, and how discovering poetry allowed José to find his artistic voice. In the second segment, we talked about beginnings and endings.

Since we recorded our conversation, José has released two books: his debut poetry collection Citizen Illegal, and the anthology he co-edited, The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. You can order either from your local independent bookstore, or you can buy them directly from the publisher, Haymarket Books, who is having a 40% off sale through January 4, 2021:

Here are some links to where you can listen to the episode:

You can also listen to the full episode and find show notes and a transcript on the episode page at the KTCO website.

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