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 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 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. 

Episode 120: Cornelius Eady On Poetry and Jazz

Cornelius Eady

Cornelius Eady has published seven books of poetry, including Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, which won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and Brutal Imagination, a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in poetry. Running Man, a music-theatre piece Eady coauthored with jazz musician Diedre Murray, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in drama in 1999 and received Obie awards for best musical score and lead actor in a musical. Eady is also the co-founder of Cave Canem, an organization dedicated to the advancement of young African-American poets. In this episode of the GrottoPod, Cornelius talks with Cave Canem fellow and poet George Higgins in a wide-ranging conversation about improvisation, Cornelius’s new music project, the poet Sterling A. Brown, Jim Crowrecording in Elvis’s Memphis studio, Cave Canem, Rooted and Written and a photo shoot by the New York Times of the 32 black male writers of our time. 

Episode 49: Maw Shein Win, Poet Laureate of El Cerrito

Maw Shein Win

Maw Shein Win

Maw Shein Win is the place where punk and poetry meet. Win is a prolific poet — and the poet laureate for the Bay Area city of El Cerrito. She’s also the former percussionist, along with Mark Dutcher, for Los Angeles post-punk band Pearls Before Swine. She joins us on the GrottoPod this week for a wide-ranging conversation that touches on the many shades of her colorful life, including her long career as an educator, her ongoing collaborations with artists and musicians, her new collection of poems and her experiments with New Wave hairdos during the 1980s. Check out her most recent chapbook, Score and Bone, on Nomadic Press, and her upcoming full-length collection, Invisible Gifts: Poems, on Manic D Press in April. Her launch will be at City Lights Books April 10.

Episode 28: Ex-NYT Poetry Editor Matthew Zapruder On His New Book

Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Critically-acclaimed poet, Grotto member and former New York Times poetry editor Matthew Zapruder releases his newest book, Why Poetry?, today. To celebrate, we’re revisiting his April interview with GrottoPod hosts Bridget Quinn and Larry Rosen, where he talked about his life in poetry and the reasons this often-misunderstood genre of writing is so important. Zapruder embarks on a book tour this week, including stops in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For his complete schedule, check out his calendar of upcoming events.

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.

Pushing the Boundaries: Experiments in Fiction or Poetry (with Jenny Bitner)

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Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner




TUESDAYS, APRIL 26–MAY 31  |  What happens when we approach writing like an experiment? Our minds are open, our writing is deep, and there is no room for writers’ block or cliché ideas. Burroughs used cut-up writing, Anais Nin made her diary her art, and now novels are being written in tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing. With daily writing prompts and in-class exercises, this class is great for beginning writers or experienced writers wanting to push their writing in new directions.

Jenny Bitner’s short stories and flash fiction have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review and Fence magazine. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is also a certified hypnotherapist.

Contact: jennybit@yahoo.com

Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Tuesdays, April 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Course fee: $390

Polish that Poem and Submit It! (with Emily Wolahan)

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Emily Wolahan

Emily Wolahan



SATURDAY, APRIL 9  |  Have you been putting off finishing that poem? Do you plan to submit your work and never “find the time”? In this one-day class, you will polish that poem (actually, two poems) and be given tools and resources to submit it. In the first part of the afternoon, we will workshop two poems from each participant. In the second half, we will discuss the business of poetry: how and where to send poems. We will discuss resources in the Bay Area for community and publication in the Bay Area and beyond.

Emily Wolahan is a poet and the author of the collection HINGE (National Poetry Review Press, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Gulf Coast, Omniverse, DIAGRAM, Boston Review, and Drunken Boat. Her essays have appeared on NPM Daily, The New Inquiry, and Gulf Coast, and she completed two Vermont Studio Center residencies. She has also collaborated with artist Joshua Thomson on his multi-media project Platinum Metres, and painter Owen Brown on Ideasthesia, shown at SOMArts in August 2015. She is editor and co-founder at JERRY Magazine, an online literary magazine, and is currently working on writing poetry, essays, fiction, and more.

Contact: emilywolahan@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Date: Saturday, April 9

Course fee: $75

The Accidental Find: Looking for Poetry in Unexpected Places (with Maw Shein Win)

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Maw Shein Win

Maw Shein Win

Contact: maw@redbridgepress.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Date: Sunday, March 13

Course fee: $95

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp

How can you find inspiration for your writing from visual art to music to non-literary texts? In this one-day intensive you will learn and practice inventive strategies that will help you generate fresh ideas and jumpstart your writing practice. Instructor Maw Shein Win will introduce a variety of diverse sources ranging from photographs, musical excerpts, paintings, and non-literary texts to ignite your imagination and push your writing to new places. You will leave with an invaluable list of ideas and resources to keep you moving forward. This lively and interactive class is great for both beginning and experienced poets and prose writers.

Light snacks and beverages provided.

Maw Shein Win is a Burmese-American poet, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in various journals including Cimarron Review, Ping-Pong, Eleven Eleven, and most recently, the anthology Cross-Strokes: Poetry Between Los Angeles and San Francisco (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions). She is a poetry editor for Rivet and was an Artist In Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Her chapbook, with paintings by Mark Dutcher, Ruins of a glittering palace, was published by SPA/Commonwealth Projects. Along with composer Amanda Chaudhary, she is part of musical duo Pitta of the Mind which combines poetry with abstract electronic music. http://www.amandachaudhary.com/potm