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 a few minutes to talk about whatever they want.

  We welcome John Hoppenthaler back to the program to talk about his latest collection, Domestic Garden.  Hoppenthaler explains why in today's publishing world it's not just enough to write poetry, but perform and market it effectively.   He talks about why the metaphor of the "garden" played such a strong role in his latest collection, and he describes having stayed in poet Elizabeth Bishop's house for a week.  

For our Poem of the Week, Hoppenthaler reads "Sleeping in Elizabeth Bishop's Bedroom."

Aired Nov 29, 2015.

The Poetry Foundation

  Inspired by guest John Hoppenthaler's poem "Sleeping in Elizabeth Bishop's Bedroom," Words on a Wire host Daniel Chacon reflects on having once slept in the bed of the recently-deceased Poet Laureate Philip Levine.  Does this kind of experience spur any extraordinary creativity?  For Daniel, it did.

Aired Nov. 29, 2015.

  Val Brelinski is a first-time novelist whose debut book "The Girl Who Slept with God" has been published to rave reviews.  Brelinski drew upon her experiences growing up in an evangelical family to craft this story about the relationship between two sisters - one who is true to her faith to a fault, and another who is "full of the devil."   Brelinski tells us about her fortunate path to fame, and about the influence her family had on the story.  http://valbrelinski.com/

Aired Nov. 22, 2015.

  Host Daniel Chacon reflects on trying to get his first work of fiction published and facing numerous letters of rejection.  He tells us about one rejection letter which struck a chord with him in that the writer of the letter asked him to stop writing about "drunk Mexicans."

Aired Nov. 22, 2015

  Donald Hall is the former Poet Laureate of the United States, former poetry editor of The Paris Review, and has written over 50 genre-spanning books.  He joins us to talk about what may be his final collection of poetry, "The Selected Poems of Donald Hall," which features poems from his decades-long career.  He also reflects on the poems he wrote following the death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, and why he chose to write those works in the third person.

For our Poem of the Week, Donald Hall reads MOUNT KEARSARGE, a poem which reflects upon the mountain visible from the front porch of Hall's ancestral New Hampshire home.

Aired Nov. 15, 2015.

  Host Daniel Chacon is inspired by a line from one of Donald Hall's poems to reflect up0n living longer than his mother.  Daniel is in his early 50s, and his mother died at 48.

Aired Nov. 15, 2015.


   Randy Fertel is the author of THE GORILLA MAN AND THE EMPRESS OF STEAK.  Randy's father ran for Mayor of New Orleans on the campaign promise of getting a gorilla for the zoo.  He received only 300 votes.  Randy's mother, Ruth, bought Chris Steak House and transformed it into the now-famous Ruth's Chris Steak House restaurant chain.  Randy joins us to talk about his family's fascinating history.  http://www.gorillamanofneworleans.com/

Aired November 8, 2015


  Hosts Daniel Chacon and Tim Hernandez, inspired by Randy Fertel's memoir "The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak," talk about what makes a good steak...and they think about how to subtly ask Randy for a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steak House.

Aired Nov 8, 2015

  Lennon/McCartney.  Jobs/Wozniak.  Marie & Pierre Curie.  These are just a few of the world's great partnerships, and writer JOSHUA WOLF SHENK joins us to talk about what he learned in researching relationships and creative partnerships for his book "Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity."  Plus he also demystifies the idea of the "solitary genius."  http://www.shenk.net/Aired Nov 1, 2015.

  Our Poetic License for this program is the original song "Girl," performed by local musician and UTEP Multi-Media Journalism student, Quetzani Montaño Sevilla.

Aired Nov. 1, 2015

  Inspired by guest Joshua Wolf Shenk's book on creative partnerships, host Tim Hernandez reflects on some of his past collaborations, including the "Cucuy" performance group he put together with some neighborhood buddies, to a later collaboration with Juan Felipe Herrera, who is currently serving as the U.S. Poet Laureat.  In Tim's words, he "sucks" at collaborations!

Aired Nov. 1, 2015.

  •   TANAYA WINDER is a Native American poet, writer, artist, and educator.  She talks about her debut poetry collection WORDS LIKE LOVE, and about the personal, narrative nature of her poems.  Tanaya is also the editor in chief of As/Us, a literary journal that primarily showcases works by indigenous women and women of color.  (http://asusjournal.org/)


  • For our Poem of the Week, Tanaya reads "Learning to Say I Love You" from her collection Words Like Love.

http://tanayawinder.com/Aired Oct. 25, 2015

  MONICA GOMEZ is a local writer, musician, poet, and motivational speaker, as well as the former host of KTEP's State of the Arts. She'll join host Daniel Chacon to talk about the writing process and her new book, EXPRESSERCIZE: WRITE ANSWERS, a creative writing workbook that aims to ignite the creative spark in all of us.


Aired Oct. 18, 2015

  In this online-exclusive expanded interview, LINDA GREGERSON talks with host Daniel Chacon about her retrospective collection PRODIGAL: New & Selected Poems, 1976-2014.  Gregerson reflects on her older poems, why certain poems can be compared to a bad `80's hairdo, and the unique indentations, or pivot points, she employs in her poetry.  

Gregerson also reads her poem "Salt."

Aired Oct. 11, 2015.

space.com Shutterstock Victor Habbick


  Words on a Wire host Daniel Chacon postulates on the multiple universes that may exist (according to many theoretical physicists), and how they relate to our imagination.

Aired Oct. 4, 2015.

  Novelist MATT BELL joins us to talk about his novel "Scrapper."  The book is set in the near future in down-and-out Detroit, and the main character scavenges scraps of metal, steel, and copper to survive.  Bell explains how he learned about the importance of landscapes through the works of Cormac McCarthy.  


Aired Oct. 4, 2015

  Hosts Daniel Chacon and Tim Hernandez welcome spoken word artist Richie Marrufo to the show, and they briefly talk about El Paso's literary culture.

Aired Sept 27, 2015

  Daniel talks with Kristin FitzPatrick, author of "My Pulse is an Earthquake," a collection of stories that explores grief, darkness, and light.  Some of the stories grew out of a workshop that host Daniel Chacon had taught when he was a visiting professor at Fresno State.


Aired Sept 27, 2015


  Local spoken word artist and musician Richie Marrufo stops by to perform COSMIC LOVE BREW - "a cheesy mashup" of love poems.  Follow Richie on Twitter https://twitter.com/tmrrwnvrknws

Aired Sept 27, 2015

  VALENTIN SANDOVAL is a local filmmaker, activist, and writer, and his new collection SOUTH SUN RISES is a poetic narrative of a pursuit of the American dream on the border.  In this interview he talks about how the book grew out of a failed manuscript, the similarities between film and poetry, and writing about his family.  He'll also read 2 poems: "La Rutera" about the death & legacy of the father he never knew...and "Classic Photo."

Aired Sept 20, 2015.

  Hosts Daniel Chacon & Tim Hernandez discuss why writers are drawn to writing in the voice of a famous writer.  Daniel wanted to write as George Eliot, while Tim has written about the Mexican girl in Kerouac's "On the Road."  

Aired Sept 13, 2015

  Daniel Chacon and Tim Hernandez talk with author Nuala O'Connor, who also writes as Nuala Ní Chonchúir.  Her latest book, MISS EMILY, re-imagines the life of famed poet Emily Dickinson and her interactions with her Irish domestic, Ada Concannon.  Nuala explains her fascination with Dickinson (down to her baking prowess), and explains why she wanted to keep this fictionalized version of Dickinson true to her real life character.  http://www.nualanichonchuir.com/

Aired Sept 13, 2015.


  Quetzani Montaño Sevilla reads Emily Dickinson’s “I Heard a Fly Buzz.”

Sept 13, 2015

  It is a common belief that there are no serial killers in the Philippines, but writer F.H. Batacan used her experience as an employee in the Philippine intelligence community to destroy that myth with her novel SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES.  The book follows two Jesuit priests who track down a killer who is preying on the impoverished residents of a 50-acre landfill.  She talks with Daniel Chacon about her novel and the inspiration behind it.  Aired Sept. 6, 2015

  For our Poem of the Week, Raúl Sánchez reads "Where I'm From" from his 2012 collection ALL OUR BROWN-SKINNED ANGELES, which was nominated for the Washington Book Award in Poetry.

Aired Sept 6, 2015.

Conrad Romo


   Our Poetic License features Los Angeles poet Conrad Romo.  This reflection is called "Cement God," and tells of spending some time with his abuelo during a heat wave.

Aired Sept. 6, 2015.

  Daniel & guest co-host Nancy Lechuga talk with Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine, the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry.  Mary describes Incarnadine as a "religious book for nonbelievers."  She explains why the Annunciation plays such a dominant role in her book, and why "visual poetry" (imagine a poem about an apple written in the shape of an apple), though often seen as gimmicky, was a risk she chose to take for a few of the poems in Incarnadine.  In this online-only extended interview, we'll hear about Mary's writing process, why a knowledge of the different forms of poetry is important (or not), and Daniel & Nancy tell Mary about their favorite poems from Incarnadine.  http://maryszybist.net/

Aired July 6, 2014.

In a rebroadcast from July 6, 2014, Daniel & guest co-host Nancy Lechuga talk with Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine, the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry.  Mary describes Incarnadine as a "religious book for nonbelievers."  She explains why the Annunciation plays such a dominant role in her book, and why "visual poetry" (imagine a poem about an apple written in the shape of an apple), though often seen as gimmicky, was a risk she chose to take for a few of the poems in Incarnadine.  http://maryszybist.net/

Today's Poem of the Week is "Night Shifts at the Group Home" read by Mary Szybist.  It comes from her award-winning collection, Incarnadine.

For today's Poetic License, Nancy Lechuga reads a love letter to humanity.

Aired July 6, 2014.

 In a rebroadcast from Feb. 9, 2014, Daniel & Ben talk with Liz Scheid, author of the collection of essays, "The Shape of Blue: Notes on Loss, Language, Motherhood & Fear."  Liz is also a poet, and she explains how poetry informs her writing.  She also talks about the notes that are found at the end of each essay in "The Shape of Blue."  Those notes, far from being purely academic, are almost essays themselves.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shape-of-Blue/737257809618871?ref=stream

Liz Scheid will read the poem "Magic" for this week's Poem of the Week.

In this week's Poetic License, native El Pasoan Paul Pedroza reads "The Rain Parade."

And...Ben & Daniel talk about elegies and epitaphs.

Aired Aug 23, 2015.


 In a re-broadcast from Jan. 5, 2014, Daniel and guest co-host Nancy Lechuga talk with poet Shin Yu Pai, author of the collection "Aux Arcs."  She talks about why she chose to pronounce the title of her collection "Ozarks."  Shin Yu is also a visual artist, and she talks about how her photographs complement or contrast the poems in her book.   http://shinyupai.com/

For this week's Poem of the Week, Shin Yu Pai reads "Inner Space" from her collection "Aux Arcs."

Daniel Chacon contributes this week's Poetic License with a remembrance from his high school days.  It's entitled "Two Stupid Boys."

Aired Aug 16, 2015.