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.

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

  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.

  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.

  

  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.

    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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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 Quetzani Montaño-Sevilla.  It's "A Beard for a Blue Pantry" by today's guest, Donald Hall.

Aired Jan. 4, 2015.

    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.

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.

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.

  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.

   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.

 

   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.

  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.

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.

  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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  Daniel talks with Donna J. Snyder about her latest collection, Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal.  The book was born out of recent losses suffered by Donna in recent years and the ways she found renewal over time.  As Daniel describes her, she is a "white woman" who very easily fits into the Chicano writer community.  Follow Donna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaJoSnyderPoet

Donna Snyder reads today's Poem of the Week, "Minnow Slip of the Finger" from Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal.

Local writer and retired math teacher Azucena Dominguez shares her Poetic License with us, "Singing to All," which explores youthful memories of singing songs to anyone who would listen.

And Daniel shares some words of wisdom from the Talmud.

Aired Sept. 28, 2014.

  Daniel talks with Donna J. Snyder about her latest collection, Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal.  The book was born out of recent losses suffered by Donna in recent years and the ways she found renewal over time.  As Daniel describes her, she is a "white woman" who very easily fits into the Chicano writer community.  In this online-exclusive extended interview, Donna explains why Neruda changed her life, and how she goes about arranging the order of her poems when she is putting together a collection.

Follow Donna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaJoSnyderPoet

Aired Sept. 28, 2014.

  Daniel & Ben begin their 4th season of shows with famed Chicana novelist and poet, Lucha Corpi.  Lucha's latest book is "Confessions of a Book Burner: Personal Essays + Stories," and she explains why this is her first foray into memoir.  Lucha writes her poetry in Spanish and her prose in English, and she describes the process that goes into both.  Lucha Corpi is also the author of a series of mystery novels that feature the character Gloria Damasco.  Learn more at http://voices.cla.umn.edu/artistpages/corpiLucha.php

Lucha Corpi reads one of her own poems today's Poem of the Week: "Cancion de Invierno / Winter Song" in both Spanish & English.

In today's Poetic License, Michael Jaime Becerra, author of "Every Night is Ladies' Night," shares a few memories of the arcade where he spent his youth.

Plus...Daniel & Ben talk about their latest projects, as well as an award Daniel recently won for his short story collection, Hotel Juarez: Stories, Rooms & Loops (the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature).

Aired Sept. 7, 2014.

 

  In a rebroadcast from November 3, 2013, Ben & Daniel talk with novelist Steve Yarbrough, whose latest book is "The Real of Last Chances."   Yarbrough talks about why his book isn't set in the South or features Southern characters like in his past novel.  He also talks about his early start as a writer and when he first discovered Southern writers such as Faulkner.  Despite the Southern influence in his writing, many would be surprised at Yarbrough's fondness for Eastern European, Irish, and Latin American authors.  http://steveyarbrough.net/

For this week's Poem of the Week, Ben reads Federico Garcia Lorca's "City that Does Not Sleep."

And in this week's Poetic License, Daniel talks about the importance of mentors, specifically about his mentor, Steve Yarbrough.

Aired Aug. 31, 2014.

 

 In a rebroadcast from November 3, 2013, Ben & Daniel talk with novelist Steve Yarbrough, whose latest book is "The Real of Last Chances."   Yarbrough talks about why his book isn't set in the South or features Southern characters like in his past novel.  He also talks about his early start as a writer and when he first discovered Southern writers such as Faulkner.  Despite the Southern influence in his writing, many would be surprised at Yarbrough's fondness for Eastern European, Irish, and Latin American authors.  In this online exclusive interview, Daniel shares some memories from taking Steve Yarbrough's fiction-writing class in college, and Yarbrough talks about the influence of Eastern European writers in his latest book.  http://steveyarbrough.net/

Aired Aug. 31, 2014.

 

  

 In a rebroadcast from Oct. 27, 2013, Ben & Daniel talk with journalist and author, Alfredo Corchado.  Corchado's newest book is "Midnight in Mexico," and he talks about his often difficult journey back home to Mexico in researching the book.  Alfredo talks about his cautious optimism about Mexico, and why Mexico's resilient population hold out hope for the future.   In this online-only exclusive, Alfredo also talks about the most difficult obstacle in writing "Midnight to Mexico," the book's recent translation into Spanish, and why he still experiences stress when he returns to Mexico.  http://alfredocorchado.com/

Aired Aug 24, 2014.

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