Hi, lovelies. Coming in late again. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.
A friend loaned me a copy of Madeline Miller’s Circe, offering high praise for the book and its feminist take on the ancient Greek myth. Once I opened the first page, I was immediately immersed in the mythological worlds of Ancient Greek gods and goddesses with all their politics and family drama. Reading this book reminded me of how much I loved learning about these myths when I was in school, and I loved the way Miller portrayed Circe and the other gods, illuminating the a sense of magic and power. Some of the gods feel alien and dangerous in how disconnected they are from mortals, while Circe has an inherent sense of humanity in her longing to feel connected with them. I loved the ways in which Miller weaved various classical stories and tales into the text, and I especially enjoyed her feminist take, which presents a more complex view of a powerful woman.
Another great read this month was The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. Inspired by the slasher films of the ’80s, the story takes place years after the women’s confrontations with brutal murderers. These final girls have faced death and fought off their killers, surviving into middle age while carrying ongoing ailments from their injuries and trauma, including anxiety, PTSD, and other issues. Bound by their shared trauma, the women attend support group meetings, a tether that slowly frays as some members attempt to move on. Things get incrementally worse, however, when it appears that someone is out to kill them.
Hendrix is fantastic at creating fast-paced, action packed stories that leave me wanting to consume a book all in one go. I also like that these women are rough-edged, hard, and strong-willed, with all the complexities that comes with having survived terrible events.
Podcasting was not a challenge I ever expected to take on. When I approached the New Books Network with a request to be interviewed on their New Books in Poetry podcast about my recently published collection of poetry, the founder and editor-in-chief, Marshall Poe, confessed that the company did not have a host for the poetry podcast at the time. He then asked if I would be interested in adopting the role.
After some further conversations with Marshall, a fellow poet and writer Athena Dixon and I decided to jump onboard and accept cohosting duties for the New Books in Poetry podcast. Although I can’t speak for Athena, I confess that I personally had zero podcasting experience prior to taking on this challenge. Since New Books in Poetry was an existing channel with a following, I was fortunate that my first foray into the process was not started from scratch (with all the steps that that requires), allowing me to ease my way into learning how to plan, record, and edit an episode at my own pace through trial and error.
Thus far, cohosting a podcast has been a fun and interesting journey. In the time since Athena and I started hosting, I’ve had the honor of speaking with a number of amazing poets about their books, their work, and their writing process. I’ve learned a lot, both from the poets I’ve spoken with and about the podcasting process.
I am by no means a podcasting expert. However, on the chance that it may help someone else starting out in their own podcasting journey, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned about podcasting thus far—along with many more things that I still need to work on.
For as often as it may seem to be the case, life doesn’t exist in extremes. Whatever pain, love, desire, or hurt, moving through life is a balancing act. We learn to hold onto what is important for our own growth, but we also learn that sometimes we must carry bits of the world for those who walk beside us and those yet to come. This balancing act teaches us to jettison what no longer serves us just as much as it teaches us to grip tightly to what matters most.
In a collection that is equal measures an exploration of pain after her uncle’s passing and an honoring of her own heart, Nicole Danielle’s book Broken Ballads (2019) asks who gets to be innocent? How do we move towards the life we want? What legacy do we leave for future generations? In her debut book, Nicole Danielle finds a way to unearth joy without using blinders to hide the tender spots of the heart that need to heal. She mosaics together the shattered bits of life and shows they can still be beautiful. They can still be a reflection of who we are, what we want, and where we are headed.
You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.
Out of the many writing focused podcasts out there, Writing Excuses has long been one of my favorites. Hosted by published authors working in a variety of genres and with years of experience in the industry, Writing Excuses provides solid and insightful writing, craft, and business advice with a splash of humor — all in bite-sized 15-20 minute episodes.
In 2021, the podcast is focused on presenting a series of master classes covering a wide range of subjects. Most recently, the show wrapped up an eight-episode series on poetry, which was led by Amal El-Mohtar along with regular hosts Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Taylor.
Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and podcasts.
The Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis Zárate presents a loose retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, told from the point of view of the ship captain, who carries the crates of soil from Transylvania to England. Along the way, some deadly misfortune begins to befall the crew.
Told through the captain’s journals, the novella is beautiful written, vibrantly erotic, and deeply unsettling. The captain is gay, harboring secret desires for the men of his crew. But he keeps these desires locked down inside himself in order to maintain his position and safety in the world. He’s a fascinating character, with many layers of depths and his own secret courage. It’s a powerful story. Continue reading “Culture Consumption: April 2020”