KTEP - El Paso, Texas

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.

Library of Congress, Casa de Colores

  JUAN FELIPE HERRERA is the Poet Laureate of the United States. Before that he was Poet Laureate of California. And before that he was a Fresno poet who was inspiring the dreams and imaginations of thousands of children, their parents, and fellow poets. Herrera joins us again on WORDS ON A WIRE to talk about his Laureateship and how his life has changed (and how it hasn't) since he was appointed Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 2015.

Juan Felipe Herrera's works are inspired by social events, and for our Poem of the Week, he reads the poem "I'll Take a Bullet for You" inspired by the words of a police officer spoken during the San Bernardino shootings.

As part of his Laureateship, Herrera is trying to encourage everyone to express themselves through their words.  You can join the voices by contributing your expressions at the Library of Congress's Casa de Colores, established by Herrera.  https://www.loc.gov/poetry/casadecolores/

Aired Feb 21, 2016

Tomas Ovalle for the Los Angeles Times

  Before Juan Felipe Herrera was Poet Laureate of the United States, he was just a Fresno poet, just like our hosts, Daniel Chacon and Tim Z. Hernandez.  They share their memories of Herrera from "back in the day."

Aired Feb. 21, 2016

  Maceo Montoya is an artist, writer, and educator, and his newest novella is "You Must Fight Them," which centers on a half-white, half-Mexican man who returns to his northern California hometown to reconnect with the Chicana girl he worshipped in high school.  He must first, however, fight her tough brothers before he can date her.

Tim Z. Hernandez

  Hosts Tim Hernandez and Daniel Chacon talk about the tendency for may writers to paint, and vice versa.  Tim had started out as a visual artist before turning primarily to writing.  Daniel channels his creative visual energy to photography.

Aired Feb. 14, 2016

  Juan J. Morales is an Associate Professor of English at Colorado State University in Pueblo, and is the author of the new collection of poems, The Siren World.  Juan joins us to tell us about how he approaches poetry in the classroom to students who might not "get it."  Plus, he explains why The Siren World took 7 years to evolve until it was finally published.  

Juan J. Morales reads this week's Poem of the Week:  What I Said Once Time when a Woman Called Me Jose."

Aired Feb. 7, 2016

  Host Daniel Chacon is collecting literary jokes and shares a few.  Be prepared...some of them are just NOT that funny!!

If you know of any literary jokes, share them with Daniel at danchacon@utep.edu.

Aired Feb 7, 2016

  Renown cultural anthropologist and poet Renato Rosaldo joins us on this program to talk about "The Day of Shelly's Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief" (2014),  a collection of Anthropoesia​ - poems that blend the language of ethnography with that of poetry.  The book reflects on the events that surrounded an October 1981 trip to the Philippines, where Rosaldo's wife Shelly, herself an anthropologist, was killed when she lost her footing and fell off a cliff.  The poems are told in the voices of the people and places surrounding the event...from their two young sons who were left without a mother, to a tricycle taxi driver, to the actual cliff itself.

For our Poem of the Week, Renato Rosaldo reads a selection from "The Day of Shelly's Death."  "Tricycle Taxi Driver" is told from the perspective of the taxi driver who gave Renato and his sons a ride after Shelly's body was recovered.

Aired Jan. 31, 2016

  Writer and Vanderbilt University associate professor Lorraine Lopez joins us on this program to tell us about her novel "The Darling."  The protagonist, Caridad, is in love with "dead, white men"...specifically dead, white authors such as Chekhov, Flaubert, Nabokov, and Thomas Hardy.  Lopez explains why this novel grew out of the idea of cross-dressing:  male authors who inhabited female personas in their writing.  


Aired Jan. 24, 2016

  Host Daniel Chacón remembers 2 poets who died within days of each other this month.  The famed Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcón died on January 15, and award-winning American poet C.D. Wright died in her sleep on January 12.  Daniel opens the show with a poem by Alarcón, and reflects on a 2012 "Words on a Wire" interview with C.D. Wright.

Aired Jan. 24, 2016

  Host Daniel Chacón reads a poem by the late C.D. Wright, who died in her sleep on Jan. 12, 2016.  The poem is excerpted from Deepstep Come Shining.

Aired Jan. 24, 2016

Blue Flower Arts

  American poet C.D. Wright died January 12, 2016, at age 67.    She published over a dozen books, including ShallCross(2016); and One With Others(2011), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was nominated for a National Book Award.  Wright was a guest on a January 2012 episode of "Words on a Wire" and we share that interview with you here.  Wright talks with hosts Daniel Chacon and Benjamin Alire Saenz about how her poetry has changed over the years, and why her book "One with Others" became the closest thing to a novel she has ever written.


  Host Tim Hernandez shares an anecdote about presenting poetry (once upon a time ago) to famed poetry editor, Ed Ochester, and reads words of praise for Ochester written by poet Gerald Stern.  

Aired Jan. 17, 2016


  Ed Ochester is the editor of the Pitt Poetry Series, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.  He joins us to talk about the changing world of publishing and why it can be difficult for emerging poets to publish their works.  The Pitt Poetry Series, back when Ochester began as editor (late 1970s), was almost exclusively white, male, and heterosexual.  In the 4 decades since, the Pitt Poetry Series has published poets who better reflect our evolving landscape, including Richard Blanco, Ross Gay, and Etheridge Knight.

For our Poem of the Week, Ed Ochester reads "Poetry" from his latest collection of poetry "Sugar Run Road."

Aired Jan. 17, 2016


  Host Daniel Chacon argues that comedy writing is much like writing poetry.  He also asks whether all ideas really need to be written down.

Aired Jan. 10, 2015

  Megan Amram is a comedy writer, a powerhouse presence on Twitter, and the author of "Science...for Her!" a book that features a woman-hating fictional Megan Amram who in reality takes down a lot of sexist tropes that exist in women's magazines.  Megan joins us to tell us more about how Twitter launched her writing career (https://twitter.com/meganamram), why she thinks poetry & comedy writing share a sense of subversiveness, and how she managed to get Gloria Steinem to write a blurb for her book!

Watch Megan on the "Smart Girls" webseries with Amy Poehler: http://amysmartgirls.com/series-premiere-experimenting-with-megan-amram/

Aired Jan. 10, 2016

  For more than two decades author T.J. ENGLISH has chronicled the American underworld. His latest book is 'Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him,' which covers this notorious Boston mobster's trial while also uncovering the government corruption that was partly responsible for Bulger's crimes.  He joins us to tell us why corruption and organized crime go hand-in-hand, and why the Irish mob can draw parallels to the narco wars in Mexico.


Aired Jan. 3, 2016

  Christopher David Rosales is a fiction writer whose debut novel SILENCE THE BIRD, SILENCE THE KEEPER is set in a part of Los Angeles that isn't on any tourist pamphlets. Rosales aims to prove with this book that civil strife and urban warfare is REAL warfare...as real as the wars we fight overseas. http://www.christopherrosales.com/

Aired Dec. 27, 2015

  Saul Hernandez is a graduate student earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.  He is a transplant from San Antonio, and he joins us to tell us about why he chose UTEP to further his education, and to share the original poem, "Tortillas."

Aired Dec. 27, 2015

  Urayoán Noel is the author of Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico, a collection of bilingual poems that experiment with eccentric self-translation. Urayoán composed many of these poems on electronic devices, and used apps and tools to rework them into unique works of art. For our Poem of the Week, Urayoán Noel reads one of his performative sonnets in Spanish and English.http://urayoannoel.com/  Aired Dec. 20, 2015

University of Texas at El Paso, R. Gerald

  Inspired by Norma Cantu's book "Transcendental Trainyard," Words on a Wire hosts Daniel Chacon and Tim Hernandez reflect on train memories from their childhood.

Aired Dec. 13, 2015

  Norma Cantú is a poet and a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Her latest collaboration, which she calls a "collaborative suite," is a collection of poems and art by Marta Sánchez.  Norma talks about the evocative nature of trains, and how the poetry and artwork came together almost synchronously.  

For our Poem of the Week, Norma reads the first 2 poems in the collection.

Aired Dec 13, 2015


   Allison Hedge Coke is a writer, poet, musician, and activist, and her latest collection of poems is called "Streaming." On this edition of Words on a Wire, she explains how she employed the concept of streaming, and how it was inspired by the murmuration of migratory birds in flight. Her poems are also intrinsically musical, and that led her to team up with a group of musicians called Rd Klā for an improvisational blend of music and poetry. (The music is available for a free download through the month of December with purchase of the book "Streaming.") http://www.allisonhedgecoke.com/

For our Poem of the Week, Allison Hedge Coke reads "She Shakes Chilies from Her Hair." (View animation of the poem - read by a voice actor - at http://www.pixelfarm.com/work/motion-poems/). Aired Dec. 6, 2015

  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