Episode 98: Lyz Lenz

Lyz Lenz is a writer based in Iowa. Part journalism and part memoir, Lyz’s book God Land is a nuanced, insightful, and moving look at the role of faith in the culture of Middle America. In our conversation, Lyz and I talked about her book, belonging, false nostalgia, and the ways marginalized people are expected to share their pain. Then for the second segment, we talked about country music.

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Episode 97: Binh Danh

Binh Danh is a photographer based in San Jose, CA. Using both historical photographic processes and his unique chlorophyll prints—using photosynthesis to embed images into leaves—Binh makes haunting and resonant images about war, aftermath, landscape, and memory. In our conversation, Binh and I talked about his creative process, his interest in history, and the deep connections between all things. Then in the second segment we took a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of legendary photographer Robert Frank, then talked about the aesthetics of smoke.

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Michael SakasegawaPhotography
Episode 96: Helen Zaltzman

Helen Zaltzman is the host of the podcasts Answer Me This!, The Allusionist, and Veronica Mars Investigations. The Allusionist is one of my favorite podcasts, one that I never miss an episode of, an informative and entertaining and often deeply empathetic look at how we use language. In our conversation, Helen and I talked about her interest in language, her process in creating her shows, and the importance of the podcasting community. Then for the second segment, Helen and I talked about visible mending techniques.

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Episode 95: Robert Calafiore

Robert Calafiore is a photographer based in West Hartford, CT. Robert’s photographic practice involves building elaborate sets around male nudes or mid-century modern glassware, then photographing them using a hand-built pinhole camera. The resulting images are stunningly colorful and each print is one-of-a-kind. In our conversation, Robert and I talked about his creative process, the depiction of the male figure in art history, the place of vulnerability in masculinity, and the immigrant story behind his glass work. Then in the second segment, Robert and I talked about the phenomenon of de-skilling and what it might mean for the future of humanity.

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Episode 94: Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker is a writer based in New York City. Rachel’s podcast Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People) is one of my favorite literary shows, a show that has deeply influenced my approach to podcasting. In our conversation, Rachel and I talked about Commonplace and her 2014 book The Pedestrians, how each of us approach hosting a conversational podcast, and writing as a form of self-castigation.

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Episode 93: Yanyi

Yanyi is a writer and critic. Yanyi’s debut book The Year of Blue Water is part poetry, part essay, part journal, and entirely itself, a document of self-discovery and human connection. In our conversation, we talked about his book, about its form and his process in creating it, and about creating community. Then in the second segment, we discussed Hannah Arendt’s seminal book The Origins of Totalitarianism.

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Episode 92: Ashly Stohl

Ashly Stohl is a photographer based in Los Angeles and New York. In the artist statement for her latest series, The Days & Years, Ashly writes, “In photography, they say that all portraits are really self portraits. So what are portraits of your kids? They are portraits of a parent.” In our conversation, we talked about artistic collaboration, personal photography, and the perception of motherhood in art and society. Then in the second segment we talked about the differences between New York and LA.

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Episode 52 (RERUN): Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey's two recent novellas, River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, were a huge amount of fun for me as a fan of both Westerns and speculative fiction. Our conversation covered both of those books, her serialized novelette The Fisher of Bones, as well as her Hugo-nominated column at Tor.com about the women of Harry Potter. In the second segment, Sarah talked to me about Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg.

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Episode 91: Michelle Brittan Rosado

Michelle Brittan Rosado is a poet based in Long Beach, CA. In her book Why Can’t It Be Tenderness, Michelle writes about California, Malaysia, and the space between, about divorce, and life transition, and new love. In our conversation we talked about her book, about her creative process and how she thinks about poetic form, and about mixed-race identity. Then in the second section we talked about the history of the pantoum, and our experiences with English-language versions of Asian poetic forms.

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Episode 90: Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a physician and writer. I read Chaya’s short story collection White Dancing Elephants this spring and really enjoyed it, both because of the way it centered South Asian and women’s stories, and for the complex, complicated relationships at the heart of each story. In our conversation, Chaya and I talked about White Dancing Elephants; about Seamus Heaney, punishment, and complicity; and about whose stories get called “dark.” Then for the second segment, we talked about some of Chaya’s favorite poets, and why poetry is important to her.

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Episode 89: Julia Dixon Evans

Julia Dixon Evans is a writer based in San Diego, CA. I read Julia’s novel How to Set Yourself on Fire recently and was quite taken with her use of voice and the strong characterization of the story’s narrator, Sheila. In our conversation, Julia and I talked about her book, about experimenting with form as a writer, and about the question of likability. Then for the second segment we talked about trail running, and pushing yourself both physically and creatively.

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Episode 87: David Bowles

David Bowles is a writer based in south Texas. David’s latest book of poems, They Call Me Güero, is a middle-grade novel-in-verse about a light-skinned Mexican-American boy who is just entering the seventh grade. In the book, David portrays the life of a border kid with all its joys and challenges. In our conversation we talked about that book, as well as about David’s collection of the myths and legends of pre-Colombian Mexico, Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky. We discussed the importance of representation, especially for young people of color. Then for the second segment, David and I talked about finding our way to a softer masculinity, and seeking out pop culture that makes us cry.

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Episode 86: Lydia Kiesling

Lydia Kiesling is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Lydia’s debut novel, The Golden State, is a lot of things: a road trip story, an intimate portrayal of young parenthood, a portrait of a far-Northern California community, and more. In our conversation, Lydia and I talked about The Golden State, her nonfiction writing, and the relationship between the two forms. We also discussed the ephemerality of parenting experiences, the power of nostalgia, and what rural California is like. Then in the second segment, Lydia chose as her topic the lives of Marshall and Phyllis Hodgson.

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Episode 85: Mariela Sancari

Mariela Sancari is an Argentinian-born photographer based in Mexico City. Mariela’s series Moisés—a typology of portraits of men the age her late father would have been if he were still alive—is, in a way, a searching as well as an exploration of grief. In our conversation, Mariela and I talked about the how collaboration shapes her projects, how she uses iteration to create something new from existing work, and what the photobook form is and isn’t good for. Then in the second segment we talked about the unconscious references that inform our photographic work.

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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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