GrottoPod: Writers on Writing

What it is: A lively conversation with established and up-and-coming writers on the craft of writing.

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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.

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We’re Taking a Break

GrottoPod logo

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The GrottoPod Team

Susan GerhardSusan 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 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 HigginsGeorge 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. 

Rita Chang-Eppig received her MFA from NYU. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney’s Quarterly ConcernKenyon Review OnlineClarkesworldSanta Monica ReviewConjunctions, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Writers Grotto, and she will be a 2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellow at the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.

Beth Winegarner

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.

Daniel PearceDaniel Pearce is a GrottoPod producer and fiction writer, critic, and musician living in San Francisco. He has taught at Columbia University, University of San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz, and San Quentin State Prison. He is a 2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellow.


Sugartown, Zoe Fitzgerald Carter


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 

Ben Marks

Ben Marks is a co-host of the GrottoPod and is the general manager of, 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.

Bridget Quinn

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.

Larry Rosen
Larry Rosen

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.

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