Episode 142: Dallas Woodburn’s ‘Best Week’

Novelist Dallas Woodburn joins us on the GrottoPod this week to read from her recent book, The Best Week that Never Happened, described as a “captivating, poignant story is perfect for teens on the brink of discovering who they are and what really matters.” Woodburn is a former Steinbeck fellow in creative writing and the author of two earlier books of short fiction, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress and 3 a.m. She is also the host of the popular book-lovers podcast “Overflowing Bookshelves,” and founder of the organization Write On! Books.

We’re Taking a Break

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We hope that this message finds you as well as can be. 2020 has contained a great deal of change for the GrottoPod, and for our production team. To fill you in: the Writers Grotto recently moved out of its physical offices in San Francisco, and we at GrottoPod consequently moved out of the podcast studio where we recorded so many of the interviews that we’ve broadcast on this show. Given these changes, we’ve decided to take an indefinite break from our regular release schedule; however, we will likely be bringing you the occasional reading from a Grotto member, so please stay subscribed. We’ll be looking forward to reconvening with all of you down the line. Be well.

Episode 141: Preeti Vangani On Writing From Bitterness

Preeti Vangani

Preeti Vangani joins the GrottoPod this week to talk with producer Brad Balukjian about her evocative essay, “A Meditation on Bitterness,” published in Bending Genres. Vangani is a brand manager turned poet and personal essayist who authored Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions), and won the RL India Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in  BOAAT, Juked, Gulf Coast and Threepenny Review, among other journals. She is the Poetry Editor for Glass Journal.

Episode 140: Tess Taylor’s Poetry of Place

Tess Taylor

Poet Tess Taylor, who published two collections this year, Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange and Rift Zone, joins us on the GrottoPod this week to read some of her poetry. Taylor is the author of three other books of poetry, including The Misremembered World, selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s inaugural chapbook fellowship, and The Forage House, called “stunning” by The San Francisco Chronicle. Work & Days was named one of The New York Times best books of poetry of 2016She’s also currently on the faculty of Ashland University’s Low-Res MFA Creative Writing Program.

Episode 139: Roberto Lovato Reads from “Unforgetting”

Roberto Lovato with megaphone

Journalist and author Roberto Lovato returns to the GrottoPod this week to read from his debut book, Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas. 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. 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.

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.