Episode 13: Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder, poetry editor for the New York Times Magazine and author of four award-winning poetry collections, enters the GrottoPod this week to discuss his latest work — a book of prose due out this summer called Why Poetry? — and the challenges and rewards of teaching poetry. Zapruder examines a life of poetry and muses on the role The Grotto has played in his life and career, the path that led him from a U.C. Berkeley PhD. program in Slavic languages and literature to a poetry M.F.A. He wraps up his visit by setting a tattoo date with Bridget.

Episode 12: Frances Stroh

Frances Stroh

Frances Stroh

Author Frances Stroh joins the GrottoPod to discuss her best-seller, “Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss,” just ahead of its release in paperback May 30. Invigorated and rested after spending 2016 juggling motherhood and book promotion, Stroh recounts her roller-coaster life as a fifth-generation member of the once-mighty Stroh’s Beer family and how she’s used her book tour to “give back” to her hometown of Detroit. She also shares what happens when amazon.com runs out of your book, and the intricacies of making sure there is beer available at your readings.

Episode 11: Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook 2017

Journalist, memoirist, activist and lifelong Boston Red Sox fan Christopher Cook enters the GrottoPod this week to discuss a life lived in pursuit of doing good and doing well. An award-winning muckraker whose work has appeared in Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor and Atlantic.com, Cook is the author of the 2004 book Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. In recent months, Cook has turned his attention to journalism and analysis that’s aimed at fighting the Trump administration.

Episode 10: Zahra Noorbakhsh

Zahra Noorbakhsh. Photo by Harsh Mall.

Zahra Noorbakhsh

Feminist, Muslim, Iranian-American comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh joins us on the GrottoPod this week to talk about her love of performing onstage, politics, her relationship with her Iran-born parents — who appear frequently in her stand-up tales — and T-Rex erotica. Noorbakhsh’s shows include All Atheists are Muslim, On Behalf of All Muslims and Hijab and Hammerpants. She’s also the co-host of the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast and has appeared on Fresh Air and in the anthology Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.

Episode 9: Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua

In this week’s episode, Vanessa Hua — journalist, columnist, fiction writer, and mother of 5-year-old twins — talks about how she juggles everything, stays on top of social media and manages to be such a generous colleague. (No, knitting is not the secret.) She shares time-management tips, thoughts on meaningful publicity, how running and swimming help her sort out ideas, and where she finds inspiration for short stories like those in Deceit and Other Possibilities, released in October 2016. The book recently received the Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature. Hua writes a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Episode 8: Bridget Quinn

John Doe and Bridget Quinn

Bridget Quinn (right, with John Doe)

Bridget Quinn removes her co-host hat and gives us the backstory of her first book, Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art & Made History (in That Order). Born and raised in Montana, Quinn followed a nonlinear path to NYU’s Institute of the Arts, where she dropped the dream of a Ph.D in art history in favor of the dream of writing a Vasari-like Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects — but about women. Two decades later, Broad Strokes is earning accolades. Quinn’s essays have been published in Narrative Magazine as well as in anthologies; “At Swim, Two Girls” was included in Best American Sports Writing 2013. In addition to other upcoming events, she will be teaching creative nonfiction at the Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat in Hawai’i in May.

Episode 7: Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan published two story collections (Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone), a chapbook (Hard to Say), and a short memoir (His Heartbeat in my Hand) before releasing her first novel, The Weight of Him, in February. In this week’s episode of the GrottoPod, she talks about her characters and her family (“what we don’t know about our own flesh-and-blood”), the unanswered questions about the effects of suicide on survivors, rewriting the Irish experience (“correcting the forgotten”) and how writing characters who are better than we are can amount to self-redemption.

Episode 6: Manjula Martin

Manjula Martin

Manjula Martin.

How do writers get by, financially? We put that impertinent question to our colleague Manjula Martin, author of Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. In the book, she gathers intel from established and rising authors, but she has good insight herself, having created Who Pays Writers? — and having written for the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, Aeon magazine and many others. She has also worked for book publishers, magazines, nonprofits, arts organizations and is currently the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story. (Note: we mispronounced her name in the intro; it’s pronounced MON-jula!)

Episode 5: Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus (2011), which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” But he joins us in the GrottoPod to talk about why he just released a memoir, Sirens (2017). It’s a raw and stripped-down chronicle of drug and alcohol addiction, a literal hole in his heart and family compassion. He calls it a “relapse memoir,” something far removed from “a linear AA share.” Don’t miss him Saturday, March 4, at the Babylon Salon in San Francisco.

Episode 4: Louise Nayer

Louise Nayer

Louise Nayer

Poet, memoirist and longtime teacher Louise Nayer joins us to discuss the always-intriguing subject of memoir. In August 2016, Louise re-released Burned, the story of tragedy and rebirth in her family of origin. She also talks with us about the lighter but no-less-revealing personal story in her next book, Poised for Retirement: Moving from Anxiety to Zen. Consider this podcast a preview of Louise’s double readings of Burned on February 25 — at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library (2 p.m.) and at Great Good Place for Books in Oakland (7 p.m.).