Episode 84: Matika Wilbur

Matika Wilbur, of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, is a photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. For her current endeavor, Project 562, Matika has visited hundreds of tribes across the United States, making portraits and sharing contemporary Native stories to counteract the stereotypes and misinformation so prevalent in mainstream media and history textbooks. In our conversation, Matika and I talked about the origins of Project 562, her collaborative portrait-making process, and the difference between activism and storytelling. Then for the second segment, Matika talked about ways to indigenize our spaces, acknowledge our indigenous communities, and form a relationship with the land.

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Episode 83: Shivanee Ramlochan

Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts reporter, and book blogger. I had the opportunity to read Shivanee’s book of poems Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting a few months ago and I found it a powerful experience. In our conversation, Shivanee and I talked about her book, making art out of our traumas, and navigating audience responses to our work. Then in the second segment, we talked about how few opportunities there can be for marginalized writers, and how this often creates an unnecessarily competitive environment.

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Michael SakasegawaWriting, Poetry
Episode 82: Victoria Mara Heilweil

Victoria Mara Heilweil is a photographic artist, curator, and educator based in San Francisco, CA. I met Victoria at an opening here in San Diego a couple of years ago and immediately hit it off with her, as our work is very much on the same wavelength. In our conversation we talked about the importance of imperfection and the everyday in her work, placing her work in a feminist context, and her experience as an independent curator in San Francisco. Then for the second segment, we talked about the state of education in the United States, and the lack of respect given to teachers.

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Episode 81: Mike Sakasegawa

To celebrate the third anniversary of Keep the Channel Open, photographer Daniel Gonçalves turned the tables on me and took on the role of podcast host in order to spend some time talking about my own work. In our conversation, Daniel and I discussed my photographs and creative process, making an emotional connection through art, and why quiet masculinity is important to me.

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Episode 80: Jerry Takigawa

Jerry Takigawa is a photographer, designer, and writer based in Carmel Valley, CA. In his photo series Balancing Cultures, Jerry explores his family’s history during the Japanese American Internment, creating striking and beautiful compositions that tell the story of a dark chapter in our nation’s past. In our conversation, I talked with Jerry about this body of work, about our shared identity as Japanese Americans, and about how he developed a visual vocabulary that has evolved throughout his artistic career.

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Episode 79: Rachel Lyon

Rachel Lyon is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Rachel’s debut novel Self-Portrait With Boy caught my attention for its complex depiction of a young artist in 1990’s Brooklyn, and the story has stuck with me in the months since I first read it. In our conversation, Rachel and I talked about the similarities between her novel and one of her earlier short stories, about the necessity of art in the contemporary world, and about the way her novel and its characters engage with questions of class. Then in the second segment, we talked about alcoholism and the role drinking plays in our culture.

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Episode 78: David Naimon

David Naimon is a writer and the host of the literature podcast Between the Covers, one of my absolute favorite podcasts. On his show, David brings a deep curiosity and impressive intellect to every conversation, making for some of the most engaging and in-depth interviews I’ve ever heard. In our conversation, David and I talked about the similarities and differences between our two shows, about the craft of interviewing, as well as about his own writing. Then in the second segment, David asked the question, is there a way for us as a society to change the way we tell stories that might enact change in our relationship to the natural world?

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Episode 77: Brandon Thibodeaux

Brandon Thibodeaux is a photographer based in Dallas, TX. At the Medium Festival of Photography this year, Brandon presented his series In That Land of Perfect Day, in which he looks at faith, identity, and perseverance in a group of five African-American communities in the Mississippi Delta. In our conversation we talked about the project, the importance of empathy, and the responsibility of documentary photography. Then in the second segment, Brandon and I talked about the interaction between our personal work and our careers.

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Episode 10 (RERUN): Claire A. Warden

The images from Claire A. Warden's series Mimesis are visually striking and delightfully inscrutable. Like most viewers, I was immediately grabbed by them when I first saw them, but it wasn't until I talked with Claire and read her artist's statement that I really understood what she was trying to say with these pictures. Having that experience, though, really deepened my appreciation for the work. This week, Claire and I talked about her unique process and the reason why it's so important that this series exist in the context of photography. In the second segment, we discussed race and being and immigrant, and how that affects the way one's identity forms.

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Episode 38 (RERUN): Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor is a writer and graduate student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. One of my favorite contemporary writers, Brandon's short stories are marvelously crafted, understated and emotionally charged, while his personal essays and cultural critique are insightful and often lyrical—all of it is just a joy to read. In today's conversation, Brandon and I talked about his work and his process, how he often finds himself inventing around the margins of the stories he takes in, and how and why he always resists the reductive take. For the second segment, Brandon chose expectation as his topic, both the excitement and terror of one's own anticipation of the future, but also the expectations others can put on us.

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Episode 31 (RERUN): Christina Riley

Christina Riley is a photographer and musician currently based in Seaside, California. When I first saw Christina's 2014 book Back to Me, I was immediately blown away by the emotional power and authenticity of the photographs. We talked about Christina's experience with bipolar disorder, her photographic process, and what it's like to move from Ontario, Canada to a small coastal community in Northern California. For the second segment, Christina chose change as her topic.

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Episode 76: Nicole Chung

Nicole Chung is a writer and editor. Nicole’s debut memoir All You Can Ever Know was released this month. In it, she tells the story of her life growing up as a transracial adoptee, of eventually finding and connecting with her birth family, and of becoming a parent, herself. In our conversation, Nicole and I talked about her wonderful book, our common experiences as Asian Americans, and about how to write a story that is still ongoing. Then in the second segment, Nicole and I talked about how we discuss race and identity with our kids.

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Episode 75: Tami Bahat

Tami Bahat is a fine art photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. Tami’s Dramatis Personae photographs are a series of Renaissance-inspired portraits, depicting people interacting with a few carefully-chosen props or set pieces, and sometimes a live animal co-star. In our conversation we talked about Tami’s recent solo exhibition of Dramatis Personae at Building Bridges Art Exchange, about how experimentation is crucial to her process, and about the collaborative process of her portraiture. Then in the second segment, we talked about fear, and why it’s so important to get out of your comfort zone.

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Michael SakasegawaPhotography
Episode 74: Franny Choi

Franny Choi’s chapbook Death By Sex Machine uses the framing of artificial intelligence to look at things like voicelessness, dehumanization, Asian fetishism, and more. In our conversation, Franny and I talked about her book, about the ethics of making art that uses other people’s voices, about writing lines that surprise yourself, and about Asian American solidarity. Then in the second segment, Franny talked about a recent trip she took to Korea.

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Michael SakasegawaWriting, Poetry
Episode 73: Ada Limón

Ada Limón's latest book of poems, The Carrying, was just released this month by Milkweed Editions, and it's just beautiful. In this episode, Ada and I discuss the book, the power of naming, connection with the Earth, and her collaboration with poet Natalie Diaz. Then in the second segment, we talked about travel and artistic pilgrimages.

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Episode 72: Natalie Eilbert

Natalie Eilbert's newest collection of poems, Indictus, was published in January of this year, and reading it is a profound and intense experience. In our conversation, Natalie and I talked about Indictus, making amends, and what audiences ask of artists who make work about trauma. In the second segment, Natalie chose social media as her topic.

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Episode 71: R. O. Kwon

R. O. Kwon's debut novel, The Incendiaries, was just released last week, and it's one of the best books I've read this year. In our conversation, we talked about her new book, who the first readers she has in mind are, the inherent unreliability of narrators, and how the characters invent themselves for each other. Then in the second segment, R. O. talked about her other passion: rock climbing.

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Episode 70: Blue Mitchell

Blue Mitchell is an independent publisher, curator, educator, and photographer based in Portland, OR. Blue's work, both as the publisher of Diffusion and as an artist in his own right, focuses on what he calls "artfully crafted" photography—that is, photographic art where you can see the artist's hand. In our conversation we talked about Blue's photographs and his use of a wide variety of techniques to create images that elicit a strong emotional response in the viewer. We also talked about his publishing company, One Twelve, and how Diffusion came about. Then in the second segment, we talked about portfolio review events, and how they can be a great way to connect with the photographic community.

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Episode 69: Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky is a poet, collage artist, and self-described Game of Thrones and Mad Men super fan. I recently read Leah's latest book, the full-length poetry collection The Barbarous Century, and was struck by the exuberant use of language—it brought me a lot of joy. In our conversation, Leah and I talked about her book, her fascination with pop culture, and the power of story. Then in the second segment, we had a very spoilery discussion about the HBO series Westworld.

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Episode 68: Richard Georges

Richard Georges is a writer, editor, and lecturer in the British Virgin Islands. In his new collection of poems, Giant, Richard gives us a portrait of the BVI through landscape, through its history and its present. In our conversation, Richard and I talked about his book, the aftermath of empire in the BVI, and the relationship between poetry and myth. For the second segment, Richard talked about the particular moment that the BVI faces today in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

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