SoundPages

SoundPages is produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. This podcast features interviews and live readings from artists in the Jack Straw Writers Program. Each year a series of twelve episodes is produced featuring the current Jack Straw Writers and curator.
  • Michael Overa wearing headphones, facing a microphone on the left, smiling

    No Way Home - Michael Overa

    Michael Overa‘s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a novel he calls an elegy for his youth, about the origins and career of a punk band in Seattle. His conversation with curator E.J. Koh touches on Michael’s favorite ‘90s punk bands, authenticity in art, and his own Seattle youth. “It’s not necessarily a time that at my age I want to go back and live, but it’s fun to think about.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Portrait of Daniel Tam-Claiborne

    Transplants - Daniel Tam-Claiborne

    Daniel Tam-Claiborne’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a novel about a Chinese woman and a Chinese-American woman navigating the experience of being transplants in different ways. In his conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss Daniel’s connection to these characters, the relationship between China and America, and how it effects individuals in both places. “That’s something I’m really hoping to address and think about when we think about fiction. . . . is to make the case that there are lived experiences that are worth thinking about in ways that are more sympathetic and more tolerant and with greater understanding.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Memory - Grace Jahng Lee

    Grace Jahng Lee’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a novel about a Korean-American family, incorporating themes of memory and intergenerational trauma. In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss the enduring impacts of the Korean War, and the challenges of preserving stories from the past. “Sometimes you have to forget to survive, right? . . . And through my writing, I guess I’m always pushing against that, but yet also trying to respect the fact that a lot of what I’m writing is a source of trauma, not only for me but for many people who were involved in those stories.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • America, America - Tochukwu Okafor

    Tochukwu Okafor’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a story about a young gay man coming of age in Nigeria. In his conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss what it’s like to be gay in Nigeria and bond over their shared experiences with both Catholicism and the engineering world. “I don’t know if I should get offended when people ask me ‘so what’s it gonna be,’ am I going to give up my engineering career for my writing career . . . and I’m always asking them why can’t it be both?”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Fathering - Greg November

    Greg November’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a collection of short stories that explore fatherhood and masculinity. In his conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss the conflicts and challenges of being a caregiver and a role model. “At times I feel like I’ve got to . . . be a leader . . . to model ways of carrying through, and being determined . . . But then also being soothers, being comforters, I mean – the kid’s only six years old and he hurt his knee.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • What's Left Behind - José Luis Montero

    José Luis Montero’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a series of short essays about his journey to the United States from Mexico. In his conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss dispelling the myths of Mexican migration, how storytelling has always been integral to his life, and what it means to leave home. “The kind of story I want to talk about is not necessarily . . . all the forms that I have to fill to get my green card for my citizenship, but rather, what drove me to come here? And what I had to leave behind. And kind of like ask myself, in a very rhetorical way, is it worth it?”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Hoard - S. Erin Batiste

    2021 Jack Straw writer S. Erin Batiste’s full-length poetry collection, Hoard, deals with the complexity of memory and the ways in which we collect possessions and stories. In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss confessional poetry, mall culture of the 1980s and ‘90s, and the intersection of privilege and minimalism. “I think for me the minimalism, especially the trendiness of it, reads as whiteness, and erasure . . . and a privilege to be able to strip everything in ways where a lot of us are having to sit with our histories, especially people who . . . are in this country who were othered.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Kristie Song portrait

    Meal After Meal - Kristie Song

    Kristie Song’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is a collection of memoir vignettes that explore her family’s history. In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss the intersections of queer culture with Northern and Southern Chinese culture, the challenge of not speaking a relative’s first language, and food as a point of connection. “I think of food as a medium, almost, of sharing love, and sharing connection, especially because it’s hard sometimes to talk with language. . . . My dad [will] use a lot of these Chinese proverbs . . . and he’ll try to break it down, but for the most part when we’re able to sit down for dinners, he likes to reach into the past and try to share that with us, through these dishes, and through these fragmented memories.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Desire and Devotion – Patrycja Humienik

    2021 Jack Straw writer Patrycja Humienik’s poetry project grapples with the concept of devotion in relation to religion, longing, and naming. In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss finding community in writing, how movement impacts the writing process, and the intersection of the creative with the political. “Poetry has always been a way in which I’ve started to learn about the many layers to and limits of language. . . . Growing up speaking another language really quickly oriented me to the limitations and failures, like what gets lost in translation . . . maybe can’t be translated.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Paulette Perhach

    Dark Circles - Paulette Perhach

    Paulette Perhach’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is an exploration of mental health, anxiety, and addiction. In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss meditation practices, the influence of research and travel on writing, and the vulnerability that writing can demand. “There’s a kind of nudity in writing. . . . I think that that’s when, you know, those moments in a reading where the room holds still. . . . You see that and it’s like, ‘the writer is taking a real risk.’ Hopefully, in the service of deeper truth.”

    Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.