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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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.
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 2016. She’s also currently on the faculty of Ashland University’s Low-Res MFA Creative Writing Program.
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.
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.
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.
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The GrottoPod Team
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.
Rita Chang-Eppig received her MFA from NYU. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Kenyon Review Online, Clarkesworld, Santa Monica Review, Conjunctions, 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, 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 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 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.
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.
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.