31 October 2008

Interview with Katie Wagner

Katie Wagner's poetry and essays have appeared in Nidus, Identity Theory, North Dakota Quarterly, Big City Lit, Tucson Weekly, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the University of Arizona, where she was the nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review. She currently teaches creative writing at George Washington University in DC. Her manuscript-in-progress, In Fragments, explores the relationship between deafness, language, and the body.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Katie. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Eureka, California – way up north on the coast, in Humboldt County, which is known for its majestic redwood trees. There isn’t much to Eureka, a small town of about 25,000 people, although the old town section, with its grungy coffee shops, is rather quaint, and where I spent most of my teenage years. After Mount Holyoke College, I moved to Tucson for my MFA in creative writing and currently live in DC.
What kind of writing do you do? How does being deaf affect your ability to communicate with other writers? With your audience?
I write nonfiction and sometimes poetry, although I tend to blur the line between these genres. For my senior thesis at Mount Holyoke College, I wrote a memoir about my therapy work with troubled youth, which I later condensed into a published essay. At the University of Arizona I wrote a series of linked essays, mostly lyrical, about certain aspects of my life, and also about deafness…although I have to say quickly that deafness is not the central concern of these essays but rather the common link between them– the essays are about universal experiences: relationships, politics, the stuff of life, etc. Deafness has never affected my ability to communicate with other writers; rather, I think Deaf writers are constantly aiming to debunk common stereotypes about being deaf and being a writer – such as the Deaf cannot write poems because they can’t hear sounds.
I recently came across an essay in a back issue of “Poetry” magazine (May 2005) on deaf poets. John Lee Clarke expresses a common sentiment among writers in the Deaf community: “Sound is only one of the many vehicles for which poetry can travel from feeling and thought to expression and understanding […] What is forgotten is that the capacity for human experiences does not wait for sensations, but it reaches out and fills itself to overflowing. Deafness enhances the possibilities for poetry because it compels the poet, as it did Beethoven in music, to traverse roads less traveled but towards the same destination. The difference in deaf poets’ work is not in its potential for art, but in its perspective, a prism through which those who have never imagined life without sound can see a whole new light.”

What else makes you happy besides writing?
Skiing. Anyone who knows me understands the thrilling impact a day of skiing has on me. It’s my drug of choice, just after coffee.

Two Poems by Katie Wagner:

Africa, published in “Identity Theory”

Morocco

In the mountains, at dusk,
Berber children carry water
pails with their teeth,
to strengthen them, the guide says.

Later I duck into a phone booth,
but you don’t want to talk,
claiming there is no time
to repeat yourself.

I’m 27 and deep into the wind-whipped Sahara.
You will leave me in three weeks
for a hearing woman, a German like yourself,
who doesn’t say “what? what?”

I want to say, listen
to the angry sounds of the July desert,
listen to the sounds

I imagine: camels grunting,
sand beating against tourist Jeeps,
babies whimpering in Arabic.

I whisper, manchmal, wenn es leise ist
sag mir du horest.*



*Sometime when it’s quiet,/tell me what you hear.

24 October 2008

Writing the semi-autobiographical novel

Patricia: It is often said that a fiction writer’s first novel is to a great extent autobiographical. I’m interested in how this was so for you, particularly in terms of the characters in the story. Assuming there were prototypes in your experience for these characters, how and when did they become their own entities, more fictional and less the individuals from whom they originated?

Kate: I like that the semi-autobiographical novel is and is not the writer. I think this genre or sub-genre allows us to play around with the slipperiness of the self. I’m both Norma and not-Norma. Norma’s both Kate and not-Kate. It’s fun to play around like that. As Jeanette Winterson says, reading yourself as fiction is liberating.

Of course memoirists do this too, to an extent–it’s just that the readers are more likely to see memoir as you, whereas readers have to grapple with fiction as being both you and not you. I think it’s fun and exciting because I like identity to be in motion.

The characters became more fictional and then paradoxically more real–more truly themselves–the more I wrote them. They became three-dimensional as they grappled with all the roadblocks I placed in their way, as they made choices and interacted and, ideally, grew.

Continue by clicking here ...

22 October 2008

Amy Ray Amy Andre and Sue Katz on Woman-Stirred Radio

It's fundraiser week here at WGDR, and we are thrilled to have a packed show this week that includes an interview with Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Amy Andre, and Sue Katz, author of Thanks but No Thanks: The Voter's Guide to Sarah Palin.



Here's some of what Amy Ray has to say about her new solo CD Didn't it Feel Kinder:

Didn’t It Feel Kinder started a year ago in Durham, N.C.-a place I find musical resonance in ever since I met up with The Butchies in 2000. For this project, I started with Melissa York, the drummer from the now defunct Butchies. Mel kept saying, “Amy, I really want you to work with Greg Griffith.” Greg Griffith is Mel’s musical co-conspirator since the punk days in NYC and he is sort of a renaissance man of all things musical. I was ready to find someone to challenge me. I knew Greg’s production work with The Butchies, but honestly was just going on Mel’s word. So we met up, we played through a few songs together-Mel drumming and Greg on Bass (keys and guitar too) and wearing the producer’s
hat. Something must have clicked cause we set up another session, this time at Greg’s home studio in Greensboro. Greg immediately raised the bar for me. I could tell he wasn’t totally familiar with my prior recordings and this gave me a sort of uncomfortable freedom. I kept thinking, “Why do I want a producer, this is just what I am trying to get away from, I just want to do my own thing and fuck up and have fun?” But as
Greg’s ideas came to fruition, it just felt inevitable.




Amy Andre is a writer and LGBTQ and bi community advocate. She holds an MA in sexuality studies and is a Point Foundation Scholar at the Hass School of Business at UC Berkley. Her recent documentary, On My Skin, centers on the life of a mixed-race transgendered man and his family.

Sue Katz is the author of Thanks but No Thanks: The Voter's Guide to Sarah Palin. You can read more about Katz and her clear-cut portrait of Palin's half of the Republican ticket, click here.

So tune in (91.1fm) or log on to Woman-Stirred Radio this Thursday, October 23rd from 4 to 6 pm (easters) for interviews with Amy Ray, Sue Katz, and Amy Andre on Woman-Stirred Radio.

Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews and music; plus weekly commentaries from British writer Nicki Hastie and guest commentaries from Julie R. Enszer, and Jan Steckel. Our assistant producers are Lisa Harris (scheduling) and Sassafras Lowrey (social networking). Our intern is Mikhael Yowe, an IBA student at Goddard College.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.

15 October 2008

Eve Beglarian on Woman-Stirred Radio



Please join Merry Gangemi in welcoming renowned composer Eve Beglarian to Woman-Stirred Radio, this Thursday, October 16th, at 4:15, for a live, in-studio interview.

Beglarian's chamber and orchestral music has been commissioned and performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the California EAR Unit, Rel√Ęche, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, Sequitur, Dinosaur Annex, and the Robin Cox Ensemble, among many others. Her experience in music theater includes music for Mabou Mines' Obie-winning Dollhouse, Animal Magnetism, and Ecco Porco, directed by Lee Breuer; the collaboration Ordo Virtutum, directed by Grethe Barrett Holby, which premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival; Forgiveness, a collaboration with Chen Shi-Zheng and Noh master Akira Matsui; and the China National Beijing Opera Theater's production of The Bacchae, also directed by Chen Shi-Zheng.

She has worked with choreographers Stephanie Nugent, Victoria Marks, Susan Marshall, Robert La Fosse, Monica Levy, Cydney Wilkes, Ann Carlson, and Hilary Easton.

Current projects include From A Far-Off Country, a collaboration with cellist Maya Beiser and visual artist Shirin Neshat, which will premiere at Carnegie's Zankel Hall in March 2006; The Libation Bearers, with director Lee Breuer, which will premiere at the 2006 Patmos Festival in Greece; The Man in the Black Suit, based on Stephen King's story, with co-librettist and director Grethe Holby; Re-Thinking Mary

Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews and music; plus weekly commentaries from British writer Nicki Hastie and guest commentaries from Julie R. Enszer, and Jan Steckel. Our assistant producers are Lisa Harris (scheduling) and Sassafras Lowrey (social networking). Our intern is Mikhael Yowe, an IBA student at Goddard College.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.

13 October 2008

Why I read, write, and comment

Do you ever get that feeling of something growing inside your head? So much so that you realise it needs more air. It may even be that it needs to be let out for a walk.


Didn't it begin
with the word,
the written word?
The 'I' in connection.
Speech followed only
as the reader introduced
herself. This is how I receive
the word. This is my recall of

words read in
solitude becoming
words heard in union.
The passion of strangers
presenting as fact – pure
undiluted unargumentative
honesty, shuffling into memory
and explored in conversations

on the radio.
This is the 'I' in
dive, in imagination
intense, where love is held
gently, and rocked with respect,
where the drip drip of life and all
crashes and highs feed the ears
of we listeners waiting on words.


7 October 2008



Please welcome Patricia Harrelson, author of Between Two Women, to Woman-Stirred Radio, this Thursday, October 9th at 4:15 (eastern). Harrelson,is a retired English teacher and now works as a freelance writer of theatre reviews, feature articles, poetry, and essays. Between Two Women (a title that calls to mind Lillian Faderman's Surpassing the Love of Men), is herstory, love story, reality check, and celebration. But beyond facts and explanations, Between Two Women is an important chronicle of an time when Stonewall was still a mote in the eye of patriarchy and women had to construct a life that was revolutionary, imaginative, spirited, subversive, joyful, and always vulnerable to verbal, physical, and legal abuse.

Married for thirty-three years and mother to three grown children, Patricia Harrelson leaves her familiar,comfortable life to live with her lover. Facing family and friends who are more bewildered and disturbed, Patricia begins to question much of what she has always believed. Then she meets Carol, a sixty-nine-year-old woman who knew from childhood that she was a lesbian. Woven into Patricia's own story, Carol's intricate closeted life illuminates fundamental questions about the changing nature of love and relationships.

So join Merry Gangemi, every Thursday, 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern time) for Woman-Stirred Radio: the best in queer culture.

Our phone lines are always open. Call 802 454-7762 to join the conversation.

Woman-Stirred Radio is a queer cultural journal that celebrates and preserves the lives and work of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered artists, musicians, writers, academics, and policy makers. Our collective includes Julie R. Enszer, Kate Evans, Merry Gangemi, Nicki Hastie, and Jan M. Steckel.

Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews and music; plus weekly commentaries from British writer Nicki Hastie and guest commentaries from Julie R. Enszer, and Jan Steckel. Our assistant producers are Lisa Harris (scheduling) and Sassafras Lowrey (social networking). Our intern is Mikhael Yowe, an IBA student at Goddard College.

Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.

6 October 2008

"Writers like Adrienne Rich, Dorothy Allison, Eloise Klein Healy, Audre Lorde...gave me a framework for understanding...the coming out process"

Patricia Harrelson, author of Between Two Women, is set to be interviewed on Woman-Stirred Radio this Thursday.

For a preview of some insights into her life and books, see my recent interview with her posted on my blog. Then listen in on Thursday to hear her talk about other insights related to writing, publishing and coming-out later in life.