Episode 138: Maw Shein Win Reads New Poems

Maw Shein Win returns to the GrottoPod this week to read from her new book of poetry, Storage Unit for the Spirit House. Win is a poet, editor, and educator who lives and teaches in the Bay Area. Her poetry chapbooks include Ruins of a Glittering Palace and Score and Bone. Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, California (2016-2018). She often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers. 

Episode 137: Roberto Lovato on ‘Unforgetting’

Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato is an educator, journalist and writer based at The Writers Grotto and the author of “Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas” (Harper Collins). He joins fellow writer Jesus Sierra in this week’s episode to talk about the book. Lovato is also a co-founder of #DignidadLiteraria, the movement advocating for equity and literary justice for the more than 60 million Latinx persons left off of bookshelves of the United States and out of the national dialogue. A recipient of a reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center, Lovato has reported on war, violence, terrorism in Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Paris and the United States. Until 2015, Lovato was a fellow at U.C. Berkeley’s Latinx Research Center, and recently finished a teaching stint at UCLA. His essays and reports from across the United States and around the world have appeared in numerous publications, including Guernica Magazine, the Boston Globe, Foreign Policy magazine, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, La Opinion, and other national and international publications.

Episode 136: Bonnie Tsui and ‘Why We Swim’

Bonnie Tsui

Bonnie Tsui joins us on the GrottoPod this week to read an excerpt from her latest book, “Why We Swim.” The book, published in April, offers cultural and scientific exploration of our human relationship with water and swimming. Tsui is a journalist, a longtime contributor to the New York Times, and the author of “American Chinatown,” the winner of the Asia/Pacific American Award for Literature and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. She lives, swims, and surfs in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Why We Swim” was an Editor’s Choice/Staff pick in The New York Times Book Review, which called it “an enthusiastic and thoughtful work mixing history, journalism, and elements of memoir.”

Episode 135: Adam Smyer’s Anti-Racist Translation Guide

Adam Smyer. Photo by Ed Newman.

Adam Smyer joins us on the GrottoPod this week to talk about his new book, You Can Keep That To Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor. It’s a pocket-sized translation guide designed to keep white folks out of trouble, and it couldn’t be more timely. Smyer is also the author of the novel Knucklehead, which was the sole title shortlisted for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He’s an attorney, martial artist, and self-described “mediocre bass player” who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and cats. You Can Keep That To Yourself is out now.

Episode 134: Vanessa Hua, “VIP Tutoring”

Vanessa Hua

Award-winning writer Vanessa Hua joins the GrottoPod summer reading series today to share a taste of her short story “VIP Tutoring” from her newly reissued collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities. Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of A River of Stars. A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, among others. She has filed stories from China, Burma, South Korea, Panama, and Ecuador, and her work appeared in the New York Times, Washington PostThe Atlantic, and elsewhere.

Episode 133: Raina León, “Solstice in Solidified Sugar”

Raina Leon

Writer Raina León joins the GrottoPod this week as part of our summer reading series to share her piece “Solstice in Solidified Sugar.” León is a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, and Macondo. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn and sombra: dis(locate), and the chapbooks profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self.

Episode 132: Rachel Levin Wants You To Eat Something!

Rachel Levin

Food writer Rachel Levin continues our GrottoPod reading series in a special Shabbat episode. Listen in as she reads from EAT SOMETHING: A Wise Sons Cookbook for Jews Who Like Food and Food Lovers Who Like Jews, co-written with Evan Bloom, co-founder of Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco. Levin, a Writers Grotto member, is also the author of Look Big: And Other Tips for Surviving Animal Encounters of All Kinds, and is a contributor to the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Wall Street Journal.

Episode 131: A.H. Kim’s ‘A Good Family’

Today on the GrottoPod we’re kicking off our summer reading series, bringing you readings from Writers Grotto members. Today we’re featuring Ann Kim, who reads from her brand-new novel, A Good Family, available now. Ann Kim (writing as A.H. Kim) was born in South Korea and immigrated to Ohio as a toddler. She went to Harvard College and Berkeley Law School and is a practicing attorney. She is the proud mother of two sons, cancer survivor, community volunteer, and member of the Writers Grotto. She lives in San Francisco with her husband. A Good Family is her first published novel.

Episode 130: Kevin Smokler’s ‘Vinyl Nation’

Kevin Smokler

Kevin Smokler is an author, documentary filmmaker and event host based in San Francisco. Today on the GrottoPod, he discusses his documentary, Vinyl Nation: A Deep Dig into the Record Resurgence, which debuted digitally on what would have been Record Store Day 2020 (April 19) in partnership with 200 independent record stores across the United States. Smokler is also the author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School and Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to ’80s Teen Movies. For more info on how to see the film, go to the “Vinyl Nation” website: https://vinylnationfilm.com.

Episode 129: Taneum Bambrick’s Bold Poetry

Taneum Bambrick

Taneum Bambrick’s book, Vantage, is a fictionalized account of the poet’s time spent working as the only woman on a garbage crew. Using unforgettable images, Bambrick tackles issues such as class, gender, and environmental degradation without sentimentality. Sharon Olds called the book “a work of art which also functions as a call, as if from under the ground, a cry from water and air.” Join a chat with Bambrick about the complexities of writing about gender and class and the craft of depicting violence, and hear the poet read several of the poems from her award-winning collection.