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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Episode 67: Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee is a writer based in New York. Earlier this year I read Min's latest novel, Pachinko, and it just blew me away. In our conversation, we talked about the book and it's journey to publication, and the importance of making art out of what's true. Then for the second segment we talked about persistence as a writer, dealing with rejection, and learning to be OK with looking foolish in the beginning.

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Episode 66: Hannah Cohen

Hannah Cohen is a poet and editor based in Virginia. I recently picked up a copy of Hannah's new chapbook Bad Anatomy and the way that the poems encompass both vulnerability and strength really struck me, as did the self-deprecating perspective. In our conversation, Hannah and I talked about Bad Anatomy, about emotional truth in poetry, as well as her work as co-editor of the online poetry magazine Cotton Xenomorph. Then in the second segment we discussed the challenges of working as an artist with a day job, especially a day job that isn't in academia.

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Episode 65: Alanna Airitam

Alanna Airitam is a portrait photographer based in San Diego, CA. In her series "The Golden Age," Alanna makes portraits of African Americans in the style of the Dutch Realism Golden Age of painting, images full of grace and beauty representing black people in a fine art context, a context from which they are all too often excluded. In our conversation we talked about that series, as well as her "Being Heard" project, which began as a response to seeing how different marginalized women were being excluded from the mainstream activist narrative. Then for the second segment, Alanna and I had a wide-ranging conversation about the roots of social injustice in our society.

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Episode 64: Andy Burgess

Andy Burgess is a multidisciplinary artist based in Tucson, AZ. Known for his paintings of mid-century and modernist paintings, Andy's wide-ranging practice also encompasses collage, printmaking, and photography, and more recently he has become a publisher, having started his own photobook publishing company, Dark Spring Press. In our conversation Andy and I talked about his approach to painting as a form of visual problem-solving, about finding an authentic path in the art world, and about learning to make beautiful photobooks. Then for the second segment, Andy chose nostalgia as his topic.

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Episode 63: Morgan DeLuna

Morgan DeLuna is a photographic artist based in Southern California. In her Phenotype series, Morgan uses self-portraiture to explore her diverse genetic heritage. In our conversation we talked about that series, and the question that both of us have heard so many times: "What are you?" We also discussed her Extrospection photographs, a series of abstract bodyscapes documenting the topography of her physical existence over time. For the second segment, we talked about social media and its effects on human interaction and on the medium of photography.

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Episode 62: Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly is a poet and teacher based in New York, NY. Devin's latest book of poems, In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen was a recent favorite of mine, an elegiac, contemplative book about family, love, and the ways in which life is more about the search than the finding. In our conversation, we talked about Devin's book as well as several of his essays, and Devin also read his poem "Elegy For the Long Drive." Then in the second segment, Devin chose whales as his topic.

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Episode 61: Ty Franck

Ty Franck is a writer based in Albuquerque, NM. Along with Daniel Abraham, Ty is the author of the bestselling science fiction series The Expanse. In our conversation, Ty and I talked about The Expanse, how it got started, and the process by which he and Daniel write the series. Then in the second segment, Ty asked the question: "Who owns the stuff in space?"

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