GrottoPod: Writers on Writing
What it is: A lively weekly conversation with established and up-and-coming writers on the craft of writing.
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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Markoff joins co-host Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly.com on the GrottoPod this week to talk about his forthcoming biography of Stewart Brand. Markoff, who spent 28 years at the New York Times, is the author of one of Marks’ favorite books, What the Dormouse Said. Markoff says his Brand biography could be considered a sequel of sorts to Dormouse, but its larger mission is to capture what Markoff believes is a particularly northern California sensibility, embodied by Brand and his life’s work as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, co-founder of The WELL, and president of the Long Now Foundation.→ READ MORE
“Where were you when you heard John Lennon was killed?” It’s a familiar question to people of a certain age, but Gen-Xers will not be the only ones fascinated by Tom Barbash’s early-’80s New York City flashback, The Dakota Winters. With veteran journalist and memoirist Laura Fraser as guest host, GrottoPod Episode 99 finds Barbash talking about his childhood in NYC’s Upper West Side and the process behind turning the biggest names of the late 19th century into his novel’s central players. “I wanted to say something new and true about John,” says Barbash.→ READ MORE
This week marks the final studio appearance for hosts Larry Rosen and Bridget Quinn, who usher in a new era of the GrottoPod by completing the cycle they began 98 episodes ago. In this hour, BQ interviews Larry about the ups and downs of his 27-year (and counting) writing career. They also chat about 2019 finances vs. 1990s finances, the secret code for freelancing and “finding out what you’re good at.” Say goodbye (for now) to your OG hosts, and check this space for some big news about what’s in store for the GrottoPod.
“You can’t wait for your ship to come in; you’ve got to swim out to it.”
Rachel Howard was a Clovis High School flag-team member when an essay contest changed her life, putting her on a path whose latest milepost is the publication of her first novel, The Risk of Us, which will be available everywhere April 9. This week, Rachel joins The GrottoPod to talk about the inspiration for her new book, her unlikely path into the arts, how she’s helped create a writing community in the Sierra foothills and why you’re likely to hear torch songs at her book-launch party.
“I still feel that devastation is always just around the corner for writers.”
For Celeste Chan — a writer, filmmaker, teacher, artist and activist — the medium is whatever fits the message. Raised by a pair of Berkeley-educated “halfway hippies” and home-schooled, Chan found her footing in a post-Riot Grrl Olympia, Washington, then shifted into high gear when she arrived in San Francisco in 2004. This week, the founder of Queer Rebels and teaching artist for the Queer Ancestors Project brings her story (and some pretty cool eyeglasses) to the GrottoPod to offer her thoughts on shining light on under-recognized artists and their work.
“It’s about amplifying marginalized and unheard voices, carving out space, and carving out space for my own voice within that.”
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The GrottoPod Team
Ben Marks is a co-host of the GrottoPod and is the general manager of CollectorsWeekly.com, an online resource and magazine for collectors and antiquers. In his spare time, he volunteers to produce exhibitions and events as a member of The Rock Poster Society, an organization based in Northern California that celebrates the long-standing relationship between music and graphic art.
Susan Gerhard is a GrottoPod features producer and a longtime writer and editor. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Salon, McSweeney’s, and Cinema Scope. She co-created digital film magazine SF360.org with Indiewire and SFFILM and has lately been teaching at UC Santa Cruz and University of San Francisco. She’s been a member of the Writers Grotto since 2003.
George Higgins is a GrottoPod producer and a poet, improviser and former public defender. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Pleiades, and Fugue, among others. He is the author of There, There, a book of poems published by White Violet Press. He has finished writing a second book of poems, and is currently writing a verse novel. He is a Cave Canem Fellow.
Daniel Pearce is a GrottoPod producer and fiction writer, critic, and musician living in San Francisco. His writing has appeared in print or online in the LA Review of Books, Bookforum and The Rumpus. He has taught writing, rhetoric, and humanities at Columbia University, University of San Francisco, University of California at Santa Cruz and San Quentin State Prison.
Beth Winegarner, the GrottoPod’s online producer, is a veteran journalist and editor whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Guardian, Mother Jones and Wired. She is also the author of several books, including, most recently, Tenacity: Heavy Metal in the Middle East and Africa.
Sugartown is a Berkeley-based acoustic folk trio, heavy on the harmonies, light on the saccharine (and with a hefty dose of southern moonshine thrown in for good measure). Grotto writer Zoe FitzGerald Carter writes the band’s original tunes, sings and plays guitar. Brian Bloom is on lead guitar and vocals, and local jazz great Dan Seamans plays bass. Info about Sugartown’s upcoming gigs can be found on their Facebook page: SugartownCalifornia.
Co-Hosts Emeritus (Episodes 1-98)
GrottoPod co-host emeritus Bridget Quinn is the author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order), which NPR’s Susan Stamberg calls “a terrific essay collection” with “spunky attitudinal, SMART writing,” marking the second time “attitudinal” has been used about her work (first: Kirkus, 1996). She is at work on a new book about the suffragists.
GrottoPod co-host emeritus Larry Rosen is a longtime freelance journalist, writer and former columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. He is also the host of another podcast, (Is it) Good for the Jews?, and is presently working on a novel and a memoir.