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No Extra Words

the flash fiction podcast

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April 2017

Writing Spaces for Episode 81 featuring Charles and Eldon

With the end of National Novel Writing Month, we are pleased to welcome Writing Spaces back to the show. Segments are scheduled to run once a month through the summer.

Charles O’Hay shared his work with us on one of our Poetry Month Episodes in 2016. He uses his one-of-a-kind voice to describe his space.

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Eldon Reishus made my life as a story reader challenging in all kinds of excellent ways back on Episode 71. He brings us to Germany and back talking about where he writes.

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Happy listening and happy writing,

Kris

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National Poetry Month Wrap: why poetry matters

This month I asked our poet guests to share why poetry matters. Before we send Poetry Month 2017 into history, I want to share my own thoughts with you.

Facebook does this sometimes wonderful and sometimes terrible thing where it will show you what was happening in your life on this date in history. Throughout April, in and amongst the talk of baseball and reminders of the toddler when he was a baby, Facebook has been reminding me of past Poetry Month highlights. The 7th grader who wrote an acrostic about a murder investigation spelling out “Who Was It?” The 2nd grader who wrote the 2-line poem called “Failure to Write a Poem.” The kid who wrote hers in yogurt on the playground (she was supposed to be in trouble for leaving trash on the playground and attracting critters. I snapped a picture.)

I have always been an evangelist of poetry, maybe because I don’t trust my own skills at writing it. As a young librarian I would bring poetry into April storytimes, wrapped poetry books up like gifts to make people curious enough to check them out and once bought a bunch of bulk coffee candy and attached it to 3×5 cards with words like “Wonder” “Rage” “Curiosity” and “Bravery” written on them to get people to attend a poetry coffeehouse. (Thirteen people showed up and read some pretty good poems.)

When I became a school librarian, poetry became part of my mission. Every April I would hijack the library curriculum and do poetry with a bunch of K-8 students. We wrote concrete poems. We wrote poems using Google, a Kris invention that I swear I’m going to make a book out of someday. I read the poetry of Gertrude Stein to third graders and discussed Pablo Neruda’s book of questions with fifth graders. I stapled poems all over school and gave awards to students who arrived with poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day. We explored the found poetry of Phil Rizzuto and Donald Rumsfeld.

What I wanted the kids to know is that poetry is alive. It isn’t always funny (our instinct is to share funny kids’ poems with kids, and while the work of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky is great it subtly tells kids that all poetry rhymes and is funny.) It doesn’t even have to make sense, but what it asks you to do is to feel something, to think about something. When a third grader tells me that after awhile he stops being mad that Gertrude Stein’s poems don’t make sense and just listens to how the words sound, he gets it. What he is learning is that words matter, that words can be something, that they have power.

Both of our poets on the show this month have had a message for us: now is the time. If there was ever a time to speak, now is it. If there was ever a time for art, now is the moment. As a teacher I know that you have to convey information in different ways because not everyone will see or understand it in the same form. That isn’t just true in the classroom. Poetry asks us to take things in in a different way, attacks our senses in a different way. Poetry is worth advocating in a world where, in the words of George Carline, “More people write it than read it.” We could all afford to read a little more of it.

So I’m saying goodbye to Poetry Month 2017, but I’m not done pushing for people to write and read and think just a little more. That fight has only just begun.

May a poem impact you today,

Kris

Episode 80: No Matter Where I Am and No Matter When I Am

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Everyone’s on some kind of a journey today.

No border wall could ever keep out the “Dust.” By Patty Somlo, copyright 2009, used with permission. Visit Patty’s website.

Episode 67 contributor and poet Anuja Ghimire is our guest on the Poets’ Corner today. Born in Kathmandu and always seeming to visit her homeland in periods of great tumult, she tells us how poetry and place entwine in her life and shares with us some poetry. Read Anuja’s bio.

A brief encounter reveals so much of “The Fishermen of Dragon-Tooth Beach.” By Michael Paul Hogan, copyright 2001, used with permission. Read Michael’s bio.

Not all journeys are long or grand. Sometimes it’s the small distances that mean the most, like the search for the “Thrush.” By Norbert Kovacs, copyright 2016, used with permission. Read Norbert’s bio.

Happy listening,

Kris

Meet Episode 80 Contributor Norbert Kovacs

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Norbert Kovacs lives and writes in Hartford, Connecticut. He enjoys exploring the woods and photographing wildlife. His short fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak, Squawk Back, Corvus Review, Ekphrastic, and Scarlet Leaf Review.

Happy listening,

Kris

Meet the Poet: Anuja Ghimire

The Poet’s Corner segment returns for Episode 80, this time featuring Episode 67 Contributor Anuja Ghimire.

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Anuja Ghimire was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she often returns to in writing. She came to the U.S. in 2001, leaving home after the Royal Family Massacre, and arriving to a new country right before the 9/11 attacks. A published author of two poetry books in Nepali as a young girl in Kathmandu, Anuja began writing and publishing in the U.S. She moved to Dallas, Texas after finishing college and continued writing poetry. In 2008, she was a featured poet in the Austin International Poetry Festival. When Anuja was in Kathmandu in the spring of 2015 with her two small children, Nepal suffered the devastating earthquakes. Later that year, her poem “Six” was nominated for a Pushcart prize by Right Hand Pointing. Most recently, she has been published in Medusa’s Laugh Press, Literary Orphans, and The Good Men’s Project. Her poetry and flash fiction has been published in over 40 journals. She lives with her husband and two little girls near Dallas and works as an editor in the e-learning industry. You can find her on Twitter or learn more about her published works and reach her saffronandsymmetry.tumblr.com.

Happy listening,

Kris

Meet Episode 80 Contributor Michael Paul Hogan

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Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist, fiction writer and literary essayist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. As a poet he has published six collections, the most recent of which, Chinese Bolero, with illustrations by the great contemporary artist Li Bin, was published in 2015. As a journalist he has worked for magazines on three continents, most recently as Features Editor for the English-language monthly Dalian Today in NE China. His literary essays include re-evaluations of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ernest Hemingway and Christopher Fry, and his short stories have lately appeared in Big Bridge and Peacock Journal. For information and postings of links to his latest publications he can be followed on Facebook.

Happy listening,

Kris

Meet Episode 80 Contributor Patty Somlo

Patty first joined us back on Episode 31 and we are delighted to have her back with another story.

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Patty Somlo’s most recent books are The First to Disappear (Spuyten Duyvil), a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards and a Finalist in the 2016 Best Book Awards, and Even When Trapped Behind Clouds: A Memoir of Quiet Grace (WiDo Publishing). Her fourth book, Hairway to Heaven Stories, will be published by Cherry Castle Publishing in 2017. She has received four Pushcart Prize nominations, one for storySouth Million Writers Award and had an essay selected as Notable for Best American Essays 2014. Her episode 80 contribution, “Dust,” was previously published in Switchback and in Somlo’s first book, From Here to There and Other Stories (Paraguas Books). Find her at www.pattysomlo.com.

Happy listening,

Kris

Speaking Without Being Spoken To: women’s voices matter

A morning newscast last week talked about how female Supreme Court justices are being increasingly interrupted and talked over by attorneys in violation of court rules. I tuned in at the end, so I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but I did hear the listener feedback. Apparently, in the 21st century, even the morning news collects listener texts which are read aloud by the newscasters, breaking what I think should be rule number one of all media: don’t read the comments.

The female newscaster, while pointing out that she doesn’t think it’s necessary to give airtime to misogyny, read a couple of comments about how of course women need to be interrupted because they talk so much and have a tendency to ramble. One comment explicitly stated that women needed to be “taught when to talk.” The newscaster ended her segment by saying that in 2017 it is disconcerting that someone out there thinks that women need to be told when they can speak. She also told the commenter, well, I have a microphone and you don’t, so take from that what you will. As I also have a microphone, I was cheering when I heard that. And then I headed off to podcast editing.

I’ve been podcasting for almost two years, and I still spend a lot of time cringing when I hear myself talk. I was editing a conversation I had with my co-host for my other podcast, and I wanted to crawl under the desk. Every time I spoke too quickly, or said um, or interrupted because I had an idea come to me, I wanted to dive into the computer and lecture myself about good manners or speaking when spoken to or some other thing like that. And then I thought…but I have a microphone.

Last weekend, I heard Ira Glass, one of the most famous radio people in the country, say um, repeat himself, and end with ya know, all in the same ten seconds. He didn’t cut it out. I don’t know if it occurs to men that they shouldn’t interrupt or should be careful about rambling or need to sound like an authority and not like they are wavering, but I hear that all the time from female podcasters.

A couple of weeks ago I was a guest on the New Parent Podcast. And it’s been hard for me to share it, to be honest. Not because it’s personal. I mean, it is personal, but I’m a pretty open person and that didn’t bug me so much. What bugged me is how I sounded. I felt like I talked too much, I felt like I talked over the host, I felt like I wasn’t clear…I was just second-guessing myself all over the place. On a topic that, frankly, I have some expertise on, namely my own life and story.

Why do we do that? Why do we think we don’t have something to say? I’ve done this in the past when I’ve been a guest on other people’s shows and I still don’t understand why, but when people comment on news stories by saying that women need to be taught when and when not to speak I have to wonder if there are cultural forces involved.

I was recently invited to become part of a podcasting advocacy group wherein a group of podcasters work together on improving their shows while at the same time supporting each other and advocating for each other’s shows and audiences. While I’m not sure exactly where this is going to take me yet, I can tell you I am very exited about the possibilities. The power of voice…I don’t think I really understood it until I became a podcaster. And it still scares me just a little bit. But I have a microphone and I am ready to speak up.

May your words carry you far today,

Kris

Need inspiration to get your voice out there? The Austin Film Festival is looking for people with great ideas for fiction podcasts. Enter and share yours!

Episode 79: Poetry Month Field Trip

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For those who love books, they become almost human beings standing there in their “Dust Jackets.” By Samantha Dutton, copyright 2015, used with permission. Read Samantha’s bio.

Some things just cannot be escaped, especially “The Curse of the Virgin.” By Richard Sensenbrenner, copyright 1992, used with permission. Read Richard’s bio.

In the first ever installment of our Poet’s Corner segment, Kelli Russell Agodon invites me into her office where she shares poetry and we discuss poetry, small presses, and the importance of finding your voice. Visit Kelli’s website or the website for Two Sylvias Press.

Leaving the ferry dock:IMG_0009

View from the ferry upper deck:IMG_0008

In Kelli’s office: a typewriter! Very close to what I use at home.IMG_0013

View of the ferry dock and Sound from Kelli’s window:IMG_0012

All editors are the same, such sticklers about reading the “Guidelines.” by T.E. Cowell, copyright 2016, used with permission. Read T.E.’s bio.

Happy listening,

Kris

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