Words On A Wire

Sundays at 12 noon

Words on a Wire is a show about fiction, poetry, the writing community, the publishing world and whatever other issues concern literary writers and readers of books. Hosted by two active writers, each show will include an interview with an established or emerging writer who has a new book, from famous award-winning veterans to hot young writers with books to watch out for.

On “Poem of the Week” we will read a poem from a collection we love or talk about a new book we have just discovered, or sometimes re-discovered. We also have a segment called “Poetic License” which is our way of giving writers their say. We hand over to writers we admire three to five minutes to talk about whatever they want.

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Books
12:29 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: David Campos

  Daniel & Tim talk with poet David Campos, whose latest collection "Furious Dusk" won the 2014 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.  David is the first poet out of Fresno (the home of Andrés Montoya) to win the prize, and he explains how Andrés Montoya greatly influenced his style of writing.  David is also a screenwriter, and he talks about how that experience helps him organize his poems by "building a whole movie through poems."

For the Poem of the Week, David Campos reads "A Wage-Claim Conference in Fresno," from his collection "Furious Dusk."

Aired March 29, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Philip Connors

Philip Connors with a stack of notebooks containing his writings following his brother's suicide
Credit Daniel Chacon

  Daniel talks with Philip Connors, whose latest memoir, "All The Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found," tackles the aftermath of the 1996 suicide of Philip's brother.  As is evident by the notebooks in the picture, Philip wrote his way through the experience.  He explains how, as a suicide survivor, he felt like an "other," and actively sought to put himself in situations in which he was an outsider...all the wrong places, so to speak.  He finally found the right place in the Gila Wilderness, where he is a fire lookout.  http://www.philipconnors.com/

Aired March 22, 2015

Books
12:29 pm
Sun March 15, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Mike Sacks

  Daniel talks with humor writer Mike Sacks, whose latest book is "Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today's Top Comedy Writers."  Sacks explains why the title of the book refers to over-analyzing comedy, which is not always a good thing.  He also explains the connections between poetry & comedy - both benefit from not being overwritten.   And Sacks talks about the freedom the writers of The Simpsons were given, which explains why every episode of the show still feels fresh, despite the fact that it's a quarter-century old!  Follow Mike Sacks on Twitter https://twitter.com/michaelbsacks

In the introduction to the show, Daniel puts forth his Theory of Puns.  Why does he consider them "half a joke"?

Aired March 15, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun March 8, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Brian Turner

  Daniel & Tim talk with writer & poet Brian Turner, who served seven years in the US Army. He served in Iraq and in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Brian's new book, "My Life as a Foreign Country," is a memoir, and in this conversation, he explains the visions & dreams in the book and how he was able to channel the lives of soldiers of past conflicts.  http://www.brianturner.org/

Brian Turner reads the poem of the week, "Insignia," which touches upon the topic of sexual assault of women in the military.  It comes from his 2010 collection, "Phantom Noise."  

Plus, Daniel & Tim reflect on their travels, and how they often feel like foreigners in a country as familiar as Mexico.

Aired March 8, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Carlos Aceves

  

  Daniel talks with Carlos Aceves, author of "Diadema," his first published novel.  The book was inspired by a true event.  In 2001, a spiritualist told Carlos of a vision she had of a special place in Hueco Tanks that he had to find.  Carlos discovered a symbol in a cave that signified an astronomical alignment.  Carlos also talks about his self-help book "Nine Seasons: Beyond 2012," which is a manual of ancient Aztec & Maya wisdom that we can apply to our lives today.  

In today's Poetic License, we air poems read by the late poet & activist Phil Goldvarg, who, though not Hispanic, was considered a Chicano by his fellow poets.

Aired March 1, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Philip Levine

    In remembrance of the passing of Philip Levine, we'll hear a March 5, 2012, interview Daniel & Ben held with the then-Poet Laureate of the United States. Levine talks about his love of New York City, why he always wanted to be a poet, his life as the U.S. Poet Laureate, and how the Diego Rivera murals in Detroit influenced him as a young man. Levine also contributes this week’s Poem of the Week, reading his own poem, “Llanto” (for Ernesto Trejo).

Philip Levine died Feb. 14, 2015 at age 87.  

Aired Feb 22, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 15, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: José de Piérola

José de Piérola

  Daniel talks with José de Piérola, a Peruvian writer and faculty member at UTEP's Bilingual MFA in Creating Writing.  He talks about the Peruvian legend that inspired his most recent book, "Pishtaco Slayer," and about his Spanish-language translations of the works of Henry James and Albert Camus.

http://www.josedepierola.com/

Plus, Daniel reflects on the point in his career when he discovered he needed to write one book at a time.

Aired Feb. 15, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Martha Serpas

  Daniel talks with Martha Serpas, author of the poetry collection "The Diener."  A diener is a person who works in a morgue, handling and cleaning the corpse.  Martha, who is also a  trauma hospital chaplain at Tampa General Hospital, talks about her conversations with the hospital's diener, and how their respective jobs influenced the works in this collection.  The book not only touches on death, but on the destruction of the Gulf Coast wetlands.  http://www.marthaserpas.com/index.html

For the Poem of the week, Martha Serpas reads "Pearl Snap."

Today's Poetic License features Dayanna Sevilla singing 2 poems by Federico Garcia Lorca: "Canción del Naranjo Seco" and "Despedida," set to the music of Marta Gomez.  Sevilla accompanies herself on her Peruvian percussion instrument, the cajón. (The music you hear after Dayanna's Poetic License is Marta Gomez's rendition of "Canción del Naranjo Seco")

Plus...Daniel reflects on why he can't stand genre fiction...vampire books in particular.  He began to question his stance, however, when he experienced a sort of interaction with the dead in Buenos Aires.

Aired Feb. 8, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Martha Serpas (extended)

  Daniel talks with Martha Serpas, author of the poetry collection "The Diener."  A diener is a person who works in a morgue, handling and cleaning the corpse.  Martha, who is also a  trauma hospital chaplain at Tampa General Hospital, talks about her conversations with the hospital's diener, and how their respective jobs influenced the works in this collection.  The book not only touches on death, but on the destruction of the Gulf Coast wetlands.  

In this extended online-only interview, Martha discusses the parallels between death and the erosion of the wetlands.  She also explains why a chaplain's job isn't necessarily there to comfort one's suffering, but to help them be present to what's happening around them.

http://www.marthaserpas.com/index.html

Aired Feb. 8, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Kyle Minor

  Daniel talks with Kyle Minor, author of "Praying Drunk," a collection of stories which won the Story Prize Spotlight Award (http://thestoryprize.blogspot.com/2015/01/praying-drunk-by-kyle-minorthis-years.html).  The book places little distinction between fiction and memory, and explores many of Minor's obsessions.   http://kyleminor.com/

In today's Poetic License, writer Joseph Rios reflects on the loss of his friend Michele Serros, the Chicano writer & poet who died January 4, 2015.

Plus, Daniel explains why metaphors are best used to understand reality...and why it's "turtles all the way down."

Aired Feb. 1, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Kyle Minor (extended)

  Daniel talks with Kyle Minor, author of "Praying Drunk," a collection of stories which won the Story Prize Spotlight Award (http://thestoryprize.blogspot.com/2015/01/praying-drunk-by-kyle-minorthis-years.html).  The book places little distinction between fiction and memory, and explores many of Minor's obsessions.   http://kyleminor.com/  (This is an online, extended edition of the interview which aired on KTEP).

Aired Feb. 1, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Ilyse Kusnetz

  Daniel talks with Ilyse Kusnetz, winner of the 2014 T.S. Eliot prize for her poetry collection, "Small Hours."  Ilyse talks about why history and historical figures play a major part in the collection, and how her early love of science fiction interweaves with her sense of history.  Her works also tackle injustice, oppression, and the fear of technology.  http://ilysekusnetz.com/

For our Poem of the Week, Ilyse reads "Match Girls" from her award-winning collection, "Small Hours."

Aired Jan. 25, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Ilyse Kusnetz (extended)

 

  

  Daniel talks with Ilyse Kusnetz, winner of the 2014 T.S. Eliot prize for her poetry collection, "Small Hours."  Ilyse talks about why history and historical figures play a major part in the collection, how her early love of science fiction interweaves with her sense of history.  Her works also tackle injustice, oppression, and the fear of technology.  In this online-only expanded interview, Ilyse talks about entering her collection in contests while also looking for publishers...social protest poetry...and quantum mechanics.

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Books
12:29 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Soul Vang

  

  Daniel & Tim talk with poet Soul Vang, whose latest collection "To Live Here" is a collection of poems that unfolds as a memoir.  The book tells of the Hmong experience in the US, and of Soul's experiences as a Hmong writer in Fresno CA and a US Army veteran.  Soul is also a founder of the Hmong American Writers Circle http://hmongwriters.org/

For this week's Poem of the Week, Soul Vang reads "Chino" from his collection, "To Live Here."

Plus, Daniel & Tim reflect on the loss of Chicana writer and humorist, Michele Cerros.  You can listen to NPR's remembrance of Cerros at http://www.npr.org/2015/01/07/375640110/remembering-generation-mex-writer-and-proud-outsider-michele-serros.

Aired Jan. 18, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Maria Maloney

  Daniel & Tim talk with Maria Miranda Maloney, founder of Mouthfeel Press (http://www.mouthfeelpress.com/) and author of the collection of poems, "The Lost Letters of Mileva."  Mileva Maric was Albert Einstein's first wife, and was herself a physicist who gave up a life in science to dedicate to her husband and family.  Maloney explains how her husband's deployment to Iraq as well as a debilitating illness influenced the writings in the collection.   Maloney also explains why, even though she is the founder of an indie press, she refuses to publish her own works.

For today's Poetic License, Dayanna Sevilla sings the Cesar Vallejo poem "Heces."  The program concludes with Susana Baca's original musical interpretation of the poem.

Aired Jan 11, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

WORDS ON A WIRE: Donald Hall

  Daniel talks with former U.S. Poet Laureate, Donald Hall, who at age 86 has released a collection of essays called "Essays After Eighty."  Hall talks about why old age is "a ceremony of losses," and why old age can make one feel like an extraterrestrial.  He also talks about his crazy beard and explains why poetry is a "bodily art" that is lost with testosterone upon aging.  This interview was recorded by phone in Donald Hall's great-grandmother's rural farmhouse in New Hampshire, and the phone lines sound about as old as the house!  We hope you'll take the time to listen to this interview in a quiet environment...

Our poem of the week is read by Quelzani Montaño-Sevilla.  It's "A Beard for a Blue Pantry" by today's guest, Donald Hall.

Aired Jan. 4, 2015.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Natalie Diaz

    We welcome new co-host Tim Hernandez, a past guest on the program and a new member of the UTEP faculty in the Creative Writing Program.  Daniel &  Tim will talk to poet Natalie Diaz about her book "When My Brother was an Aztec."  Natalie explains how the Arizona landscape inspires her writing, and why her poetry is so image-driven.   She also shares a great story about the book's cover.

Natalie Diaz reads one of her poems for the Poem of the Week: "The Gospel of Guy No-Horse" from the collection "When My Brother was an Aztec."

Aired Dec. 28, 2014.

KTEP Local
12:29 pm
Sun December 21, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: The Christmas Show!

Credit Wikipedia

  

  We proudly re-air Words on a Wire's 2013 Christmas show, which originally aired Dec. 22, 2013!  Ben & Daniel celebrate the Christmas season with reflections on their favorite memories.  Ben remembers making tamales with his mom when he was young, a tradition he continues to this day.  Daniel remembers proudly writing a Christmas poem about Santa driving a Cadillac...only to find out that his teacher doubted his authorship.  And Ben & Daniel also talk about their favorite Christmas songs and the memories they conjure.  Ben's favorite is "I'll be Home for Christmas," which he says idealizes the often-unattainable concept of "home."  Daniel tears up every time he hears "The Little Drummer Boy."  Ben will also read T.S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi."

Aired Dec. 21, 2014.

KTEP Local
12:29 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Azar Nafisi

  

  Daniel talks with Azar Nafisi, bestselling author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran."  Her latest book is "The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books."  The three books referenced in this nonfiction work each describe the very American traits of nonconformity and individuality.  In this interview Nafisi explains why reading, writing, and imagination can unify and transport us - regardless of station, ethnicity, and income - to other worlds, and why this "republic of imagination" is made up of a community of readers.  http://azarnafisi.com/

Aired Dec. 14, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Guy Johnson

  Daniel talks with Guy Johnson, son of the great American poet Maya Angelou, who died earlier this year at the age of 86.  Johnson helped compile over 200 of Angelou's inspirational quotes, bits of advice, and observations, and they are available in the posthumous collection, "Rainbow in the Cloud."  Johnson talks about connecting with his mother through her words after her death, and how going through her works was a way for him to not only say "goodbye" to her, but "hello."  

Johnson also reads the poem that Maya Angelou read at the 50th anniversary of the United Nations: "The Brave and Startling Truth."  You can view Maya Angelou reading the poem at the UN event here 

Also in today's show, Daniel feels betrayed by Apple's Siri app for making him pronounce Spanish words with a gringo accent.

*the music heard on this show was performed by Maya Angelou: "Stone Cold Dead in the Market" and "Run Joe"*

Aired Dec. 7, 2014.

Books
9:53 am
Tue December 2, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Mark Strand (extended)

Poet Mark Strand died at the age of 80 on November 29th.  

Originally broadcast on Nov. 11, 2012, this is an online exclusive extended interview with former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Mark Strand.  Strand talks about why he grew weary of writing poetry, a process which he considers difficult.  He also talks about the challenges of overcoming the fame of his 2 most famous works, “Eating Poetry” and “Keeping Things Whole.”  Strand also reflects on why computers have changed the face and sound of poetry, and why the search for nothing, a common theme in “Almost Invisible,” eventually becomes about something.For this week’s Poem of the Week, Mark Strand reads “The Poem of the Spanish Poet” from his latest collection of prose poetry, “Almost Invisible.”

Aired July 14, 2013.

KTEP Local
12:29 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Kseniya Melnik

  Daniel & Ben talk with Kseniya Melnik, author of the short story collection "Snow in May."  The stories are set during the Soviet Union in the far eastern Russian town of Magadan, where Kseniya spent her youth before coming to America.  Kseniya shares some of her early memories of Magadan, and why the town served her stories so well.  One of her stories is a fictional account about the true-life tale of Russian singer Vadim Kozin, who was sentenced by the Stalinist regime to the labor camps of Magadan for mysterious reasons.  (The song heard immediately after the interview is Kozin's "Druzhba.")  http://www.kseniyamelnik.com/

Our poem of the week is Dylan Thomas' "And Death Shall Have No Dominion," read by UTEP MFA student, Sam Calvin Brown.  (Today's guest, Kseniya Melnik, was recently short-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize for her book, "Snow in May.")

Today's Poetic License comes from writer and retired teacher, Azucena Dominguez.  She shares an early childhood memory of her brother - "My Brother, My Hero."

And...Daniel reflects on how those books sitting on your shelves that you've never read are waiting for the right time for you to read them.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Manuel Ramos

   In a rebroadcast from Nov. 17, 2013, Daniel talks with writer Manuel Ramos, whose latest work of crime fiction is "Desperado: A Mile High Noir."  Manuel talks about why the gentrification of the north part Denver plays such a strong role in the book and how it affects lead character, Gus Corral.  Manuel also tells us whether he's one of those writers who knows how their books are going to end before he ever writes one word. Manuel will also talk about his day job as an attorney working for Colorado Legal Services.

Today's Poem of the Week is by Cesar Abraham Vallejo.  Daniel reads "Dregs."

And in today's Poetic License, Patrick Michael Finn talks about his years-long struggle with rejection when it came to publishing his first collection of stories.

Aired Nov. 23, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Dimitri Keriotis

 

   Daniel talks with his friend, author Dimitri Keriotis.  Dimitri is the author of the new story collection, "The Quiet Time."  The book is Dimitri's first, and he discusses how his travels around the globe, and especially Central Africa, inspired the stories in the collection.  http://dimitrikeriotis.com/

Today's Poetic License is presented by writer and retired El Paso teacher, Azucena Dominguez.  She reflects on her first kiss, which turned out to be quite painful!

Plus, Daniel has something to say about healthy eating, and how hard it is to eat healthy if you grew up in a Mexican household.

Aired Nov. 16, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Octavio Quintanilla

  Daniel talks with poet Octavio Quintanilla, author of the collection "If I Go Missing."  Octavio tells us how the Rio Grande Valley has influenced his writing, and which other writers have moved him.  He also explains why it is important for poetry to be accessible to readers.

Octavio Quintanilla reads "Legacy" for today's Poem of the Week.  It is a sampling from his new book, "If I Go Missing."

Plus...Daniel wants to know if you're a closeted writer.  Can you fill in the blank?  "You're a writer if..."  Send your suggestions to danchacon@utep.edu, and your offerings might make it on a future Words on Wire episode!

Aired Nov 9, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Tim Z. Hernandez

Tim Z. Hernandez and singer Pete Seeger, who sings the Woody Guthrie song "Deportee," heard on today's show.
Credit Anthony Cody

  

  Writer & poet Tim Z. Hernandez returns to Words on a Wire to talk about his "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos" project.  In 1948, plane crashed at Los Gatos Canyon in California killing everyone on board, including several Mexican nationals whose names were never published.  After grueling research, and lots of serendipity, Tim discovered the names of the lost souls and raised money to erect a memorial headstone in the cemetery where their remains are buried.  http://timzhernandez.com/

Tim Z. Hernandez reads one of his works for the Poem of the Week:  "Brown Christ."

Plus, Ryan Johann Perry and Mari Gomez join us in the studio to tell us about the Rio Grande Rift project.  http://www.theriogranderift.com/

And Daniel reflects on why the Latino youth of today have it better than his generation and of generations past.

To listen to a complete version of Pete Seeger's performance of "Deportee," visit 

Aired Nov. 2, 2014.

KTEP Local
12:29 pm
Sun October 26, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Emma Trelles

  Daniel talks with Emma Trelles, whose 2011 poetry collection Tropicalia won the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize.  She talks about the Brazilian movement that influenced the title of the book, and how her journalistic background was influenced by her poetic leanings.  http://emmatrelles.com/

Emma Trelles reads one of her brand new poems for our Poem of the Week: "Hoodwinked."

And on today's Poetic License, Seattle poet Raul Sanchez shares how his works came to be published, and reads his poem "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels," which has been adopted by some Chicano activists in civil protests.

Plus...Daniel shares a few anecdotes about mis-translations: "pie" is either a delicious fruity pastry, or it's the Spanish word for "foot."  And...we'll also hear about interesting Spanish-to-English and Chinese-to-English translations.  

Aired Oct. 26, 2014.

Books
11:29 am
Sun October 19, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Roberto Trotta

  Daniel talks to physicist Roberto Trotta about his new book, The Edge of Sky: All You Need to Know about the All-There-Is."  For this endeavor, Roberto distanced himself from other science popularizers by attempting to describe the universe in the 1000 most used words in the English language, which meant "planet," "Earth," and even "universe" was off limits.  It's a literary challenge Daniel compares to poetry.  http://robertotrotta.com/

Plus...Daniel reflects on why Biblical metaphors are out and physics metaphors are in.

**To hear the music in today's show ("The Newton Boogie" by Ian Hartman; "The Particle Physics Song" by Danuta Orlowska, set to "The Bold Hippopotamus" b Flanders & Swann, recorded at the CERN Control Center by the CERN Choir!) visit http://www.haverford.edu/physics/songs/hartman/newton_boogie.htm and https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=2025670475332**

Aired Oct. 19, 2014

Books
12:29 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Richard Blanco

  Daniel welcomes Richard Blanco, the poet who read at President Obama's second inauguration.  Blanco's latest work is a memoir, "The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood," and he talks about learning about himself while writing about his Cuban immigrant family, and how he had to separate himself from his "poet" self in order to write his memoir.  The discussion also focuses on the humor in the book, especially Blanco's musings on the culture clash over American vs Cuban food.  http://richard-blanco.com/

Today's Poem of the Week is "The Red Poppy" by Louise Gluck, read by local poet, Nancy Lechuga.

And...taking a page from Richard Blanco's memoir and his frequent reference to The Brady Bunch, Daniel offers HIS thoughts on The Brady Bunch and how it was NOTHING like his life at home, and how it was presciently reflective of today's modern family. 

Aired Oct. 12, 2014.

Books
12:29 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

WORDS ON A WIRE: Lee Ann Roripaugh

  Daniel talks with Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of the poetry collection "Dandarians."  This collection grew out of "word betrayals," English words misunderstood in transmission from her Japanese mother that came to take on symbolic ramifications in her early years.  Daniel and Lee talk about the interesting words that they have come to love over the years, and explore how Lee's musical background plays into her poetry's musicality.  

For the Poem of the Week, Lee Ann Roripaugh reads the final poem in her collection, Dandarians - "The Violin Thief."

And...Daniel ponders some very interesting collective nouns, and makes up some of his own to boot!

Aired Oct. 5, 2014.

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