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.
  • Ebo Barton stands at a microphone in the Jack Straw studio, wearing headphones

    Insubordinate - Ebo Barton

    2020 Jack Straw writer Ebo Barton’s poetry project is both a printed work and an audiobook. In their conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the differences between spoken word and page poetry, the pressure on artists to constantly produce, and what it means to share work aloud. “When I say the stage is my church, it actually is my church and that’s what I’m doing for me at that point in time. And if somebody grabs onto it, cool, but I’m gonna keep going.”

    Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Wryly T. McCutchen

    Body - Wrly T. McCutchen

    Wryly T. McCutchen’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writer’s Program is part of a “drag-a-licious” show of “of weird, solo, interdisciplinary, poetry-fueled content.” In their conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the physical nature of their work, their destructive poetry practice, and the importance of sharing one’s work. “Poetry offers the opportunity to use language in this way that breaks it and messes it up. . . . And also there’s often an emphasis on what’s not there or what’s been taken out . . . it’s something that I’ve been thinking about, in terms of life values and political values, too. What do we build . . . what do we remove? What do we take down? What do we destroy?”

    Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Ezekiel - Elaina Ellis

    2020 Jack Straw writer Elaina Ellis’s poetry project could be described as a book-length exploration of the story of Ezekiel, but that’s just the beginning. In her conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss bringing one’s whole self to the creative process, love-bombing, and the multiple resonances, from the erotic to the traumatic, that can be found in both sacred texts and modern life. “That is how the book of Ezekiel opened up for me this etymological rabbit hole — and then this image of an angel lifting somebody up by a lock of his hair. But it wasn’t like that story isn’t about punishment, necessarily — It’s like he gets lifted up to talk to God about something.”

    Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Maisha Banks Manson

    Future Myths - Maisha Banks Manson

    Maisha Banks Manson’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writers Program is “myth building in the future.” In their conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss their strategies for making a life in the arts, the speculative/narrative nature of their work, and reimagining fairytale narratives. “Part of it is taking how I feel, right now, about a story in the past and then, giving it to a future self. And then, having that be . . . how can I project care or worry or change to a version of me, or a version of family and kin and society that isn’t there yet?”

    Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Suzanne Warren

    Fireflies - Suzanne Warren

    Suzanne Warren’s 2019 Jack Straw Writers Program project is a collection of short stories called In the Country of Husbands that marries domestic realism with magic realism and focuses on the lives of women and girls. In her conversation with curator Kathleen Flenniken, they discuss her background in experimental film, themes of rape culture, and the outsider status of single women. “At one point I actually said to a friend, ‘It’s not like I’m going to go in their houses, fuck their husbands, and drown their babies.’ . . . That kind of satiric, hyperbolic statement—this kind of frustration and rage and paranoia — was the seed for this story.”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Putsata Reang reads at Jack Straw, May 2019

    Survivor - Putsata Reang

    Putsata Reang’s project for the 2019 Jack Straw Writers Program is a memoir that chronicles her life growing up in rural Oregon and her family’s journey escaping the war and genocide in Cambodia. In her conversation with curator Kathleen Flenniken, they discuss the difficulty of writing a memoir involving people who are living, displacement in its many forms, and Reang’s mother’s love of the television show Survivor. “Growing up, I didn’t really understand why, of all the TV shows, she loved this show so much. . . . I thought, you know, Mom’s, just, being crazy. Well, after I heard the story of how we escaped Cambodia and survived — Actually, I do think she can win.”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Gabrielle Bates at Jack Straw Cultural Center

    Birmingham/Mars – Gabrielle Bates

    2019 Jack Straw writer Gabrielle Bates spoke with curator Kathleen Flenniken about her collection of poems about growing up in the South. In their conversation, they discuss her array of projects, including a poetry comic collection, surrealism in her writing, and finding patience during a project. “I keep going back, lately, to this great quote in Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, wherein he talks about being an artist isn’t ‘about the day’ . . . It’s about ‘ripening like a tree’ and ‘letting the sap come as it will’ and trusting that ‘the seasons will change.’”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Josh Axelrad at Jack Straw Cultural Center

    Comedy – Josh Axelrad

    Josh Axelrad began his storytelling career on The Moth, and his Jack Straw project is a collection of short stories meant to live in the world of prose rather than performance. In his conversation with curator Kathleen Flenniken, they discuss his circuitous path to becoming a writer, the way we present our lives online, and testing new work in front of a live audience. “The audience really doesn’t lie to you. If there’s something there, they’re going to be with you . . . And if there’s not or if what you’re saying doesn’t seem true emotionally, you’re going to feel it physically.”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Michael Schmeltzer at Jack Straw

    Empathy - Michael Schmeltzer

    Jack Straw Writer Michael Schmeltzer spoke with curator Kathleen Flenniken about his poems that explore the line between good and bad, and his own history as a biracial Japanese-American man. In their conversation, they discuss the juxtaposition of tenderness and atrocities, the conflicting narratives about the Japanese during war, and the value of empathy and compassion. “You can stand up for what is right and you can fight for justice and equality and all these things that are very much needed — but if you do that at the cost of your own humanity, whatever you were fighting for is lost.”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

  • Leanne Dunic at Jack Straw

    Wet - Leanne Dunic

    Leanne Dunic’s project for the 2019 Jack Straw Writers Program is a book of lyric pose called Wet that takes place in Singapore, inspired by the thick haze of forest fires during a writing residency. In her conversation with curator Kathleen Flenniken, they discuss rolling with the punches, the influence of nature, and the overlap between Wet and songwriting for Dunic’s band Deep Cove. “I guess, if I have some themes in my head and . . . some sort of topic I want to write about, I will write about it in all the ways I can write about it — So, songs or poetry or fiction or nonfiction.”

    Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.