We did it! We made it through the beginning of 2020 and now we’re back with Season 2 of the BookSwell Intersections literary podcast.
This episode was recorded in the Rare Bird offices in DTLA in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. Host Cody Sisco is joined by co-host Dan Lopez, special guests Viva Padilla from Dryland Lit, Julia Callahan from Rare Bird Lit, and interview guest Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo of Women Who Submit. We discussed #DignidadLiteraria and the fallout from American Dirt, barriers to inclusivity and equity in publishing, and how writers and publishers are navigating the changing literary landscape.
Happy New Year to all of our listeners! This week, we’re here to help you get a jump start on your 2020 TBR list, with recommendations from our panel. Managing Editor Cody Sisco, along with Co-Hosts Rachelle Yousuf and Irene Yoon recap their year in reading and discuss what they’d like to see in the literary landscape next year.
Cody sits down with local LA author Carla Sameth to talk about her recent release, One Day on the Gold Line. They delve into religion, addiction, and the writing process, as well as their shared appreciation for the LA writing scene.
If your New Year’s Resolution is to attend more literary events, Shannon Eagen has you covered with events for the whole family in early January.
About Carla Sameth
Writer. Teacher. Mother. As a writer, Carla hopes to help readers feel less alone and more resilient. As a teacher, she strives to help others tell their stories and hone their craft while experimenting with new forms. The journey of motherhood informs much of her writing.
Through meditations on race, culture, and family, One Day on the Gold Line tells the story of a lesbian Jewish single mother raising a black son in Los Angeles. A memoir-in-essays, it examines life’s surprising changes that come through choice or circumstance, often seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes darkly humorous—even as the situations are dire.
While escaping from a burning boat, Carla realizes that if she died, her one regret would be not having children. She overcomes miscarriages to finally give birth to a son. Motherhood’s usual struggles are then complicated by identity, community, and the challenges of creating a blended family. The overarching theme of these loosely woven reflective tales is the storyteller’s dream of the “perfect” family, the pursuit of which hurls her from one crisis to the next, ultimately meeting its greatest challenge in the form of her teenage son’s struggle with drug addiction.
The BookSwell Crew has been hard at work producing our Intentional Intersectionality reading and discussion as a part of the 2019 Lambda LitFest.
This week, we’re doing a debrief and recap on the somewhat stressful but deeply rewarding process of putting together a live literary event.
We’ve also included excerpts from the talented artists that Managing Editor Cody Sisco, Intersections Co-Host Rachelle Yousuf and BookSwell Advisor Sakae Manning gathered together at the Armory Arts Complex. Enjoy the poetry and prose of these vital voices.
Finally, Shannon Eagen rounds out the episode with recommendations for literary events in the next two weeks, including a star studded event you should buy your ticket for ASAP!
B.A. Williams is a queer writer and performer from East Long Beach, CA. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is currently working on a novel-length manuscript and poetry collection. When she isn’t writing or performing she is developing a platform which seeks to uplift communities of color, redefine “otherness,” and distribute intersectionality with various modes of art. B.A. co-curates and hosts un::fade::able – the requiem of Sandra Bland and is the content manager for lovedby.her, a digital storytelling platform that showcases and celebrates Black queer love. Her poetry and prose focus on all things “other” with a heavy emphasis on Blackness, womanhood, and queerness. Her work is featured in Rigorous Magazine, Every-Other Broadsides, The Rumpus and The New York Times Parenting.
Evan Kleekamp lives in Los Angeles, where they founded NOR Research Studio. With Kim Calder, they directed Les Figues Press from September October until July 2019. Their writing has been featured in X-TRA Online, Open Space (SFMOMA), the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fence, and Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics. Evan has performed, lectured, and given talks at CalArts, Otis College, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the Poetic Research Bureau, and Columbia College Chicago. They are the author of two chapbooks, 13 THESES ON STATE-SPONSORED BLACK DEATH IN AMERICA (Kastle Editions, 2016) and Once Upon a Time I Was Michael Thomas Taren (Ghost City Press, 2017). Evan is currently editing an artist monograph and writing a novel.
Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett is a queer activist, writer, and storyteller and current resident of Long Beach, CA. His first fiction short-story collection Dark Corners debuted in 2019 through Running Wild press. Dark Corners received a star rating by Kirkus and was recently included in the swag bag for George Lopez’s Celebrity Golf Tournament. Tihi currently works at Demand Progress, leading online campaigns against the overreach of government surveillance, and is a Lead Training Associate with the Oakland-based Center for Story-Based Strategy. Before relocating from Brooklyn to Southern California, Tihi produced Rustik Storytellers, a monthly oral storytelling live show in 2013. In 2016 he co-produced PRACTICE, a safe-space live storytelling show designed to encourage new-comers to take up the oral storytelling tradition. As a fluent speaker of Dothraki, one of the languages created for HBO’s Game of Thrones, Tihi recently worked on the upcoming Netflix series Daybreak as a Dothraki Language Consultant.
Roxana Preciado is an indie author and artist recognized for her work as a poet and activist. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, she migrated to the US at four-years-old and has been writing poetry since the age of twelve. She has released three books of poetry with the most recent being Hood Educated. In this work, Preciado explores evolution and healing, connecting the disparate parts of her past self into a unified whole.
Preciado uses poetry and her story to support community engagement and activism around DACA and, as a survivor, to raise awareness about violence against women. She often speaks to Latinx and LGBTQ+ youth to help them find their own voice and tell their stories. Preciado is completing her graduate degree while continuing advocacy work for her various communities. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her wife and son.
As temperatures are dropping and kids are going back to school, BookSwell Intersections co-hosts Cody, Dan, and Rachelle journeyed to the Central Library to take advantage of the wonderful facilities in the Octavia Lab. They catch up on recent literary events, the books they’ve been gravitating towards lately, and the exciting event that Cody and Rachelle have been hard at work planning, alongside Sakae Manning. They also discuss the legacy of Toni Morrison, and the silver lining of resurgent interest in the works of recently departed authors.
After that, Cody chats with Tori Eldridge as she prepares for her first published novel, The Ninja Daughter. She examines how her heritage and cultural legacy informed her contemporary LA Noir, and the circuitous route she took to becoming a novelist after being an actress, dancer, and fifth-degree black belt in To Shin Do Ninjutsu.
Summer is winding down in LA, but BookSwell has been keeping busy with a full literary calendar, and we have a jam-packed episode for you. First up, BookSwell was on the scene at the Inaugural Little Literary Fair, or LITLIT. Managing Editor Cody Sisco was joined by co-host Rachelle Yousuf for this “pop-up book fair” at Hauser and Wirth in DTLA, where they chat about what they’ve been reading lately. Cody also conducted a series of flash interviews with Rachel Wills, Candysse Miller, and Katelyn Keating at LITLIT, that are short, sweet and packed with information. Rachel Wills recently launched her online Queer Femme Literary Magazine, Gayettes. Follow them on Instagram @gayettesmag for updates, and of course, niche queer memes. Candysse Miller gives us the rundown on Interlude Press, an award-winning boutique press with a focus on LGBTQ fiction, but a firm belief that “a good book is a good book.” Interlude has an amazing slate of upcoming new releases that you won’t want to miss. Finally, Cody gets to chat with Katelyn Keating, BookSwell Contributor and Book Event Organizer extraordinaire, who was critical to bringing the first ever Little Literary Fair to life.
After that, Cody sits down for a longer conversation with author, activist and artist Sehba Sarwar. Sehba’s novel, Black Wings was finally released in the US earlier this year, after originally being published in Pakistan in 2004. Keep up with all of Sehba’s readings, art performances and publications on her website, or by checking our very own Events Navigator.
Rounding out the episode, Shannon Eagen discusses some upcoming literary events that will be particularly appealing to writers and creators of their own content.
We are at the height of Summer Reading Season, and this episode is jam-packed with book recommendations from our co-hosts Cody Sisco, Sarah LaBrie, Rachelle Yousuf, and Dan Lopez. They chat what they love and what they hate in bookish events, how the setting of a story can be a character of its own, and revelations (or lack thereof) in celebrity memoirs. They’re joined by Sanura Williams, from My Lit Box, who is dedicated to promoting the work of authors of color through her literary subscription box. My LitBox would be a perfect gift for the indecisive book lover in your life–Sanura picks hot new releases and mails them straight to your door (along with some other literary goodies!). Finally, if you’ve been out of town on a summer vacation, why not hit up some literary events that celebrate LA while you’re home? Shannon Eagen has event recommendations for the next two weeks of July that are all about Los Angeles locals.
Summer has finally arrived in sunny Los Angeles, and we hope you all had a wonderful Pride Weekend! Dan Lopez and Cody Sisco are here to dig deep into Michelle Obama’s runaway hit, Becoming, and Dan recommends books that fill his very particular current obsessions — LGBTQ YA and Sci-Fi! After that, enjoy Cody’s conversation with Shonda Buchanan that covers the history of World Stage Press, Leimert Park, and Shonda’s own imprint at Tsehai Books — Harriet Tubman Press. You won’t want to miss Buchanan detail her moving journey of self-discovery and owning her identity, and the cherry on top of this interview is a truly phenomenal reading of one of her poems. You can find out more about Shonda on her website, and while you’re exploring, be sure to check out World Stage Press and Eso Won Books. And finally, are you looking for events that don’t feature the typical glossy beach reads of the summer season? Shannon Eagen has you covered with some June book signings (and a book club!) celebrating slightly less mainstream genres. Enjoy!
June is just around the corner, and even though it’s been cold and gloomy in LA, it’s officially time for Summer Reading! Jump start your summer TBR with some wonderful recommendations from Cody Sisco, Sarah LaBrie and Irene Yoon. They also touch on trends in literary events attendance, and how reading to stay current on the news can cut in on the time you spend reading for pleasure. After that, Cody sits down with Roxana Preciado, to talk about her writing process and her incredible triumphs in the face of adversity. Roxana published her first book, Not a Fairytale in 2015, and has already released two more books of poetry, Not a Writer, and Hood Educated. She talks about finding her own community within the world of LA indie writers, and how she hopes to be a beacon for young, queer immigrants. Finally, June is Pride Month, and Shannon Eagen has selected some great events focused on LGBTQ authors for you to attend in the next two weeks.
The first two weeks of May have been a flurry of literary excitement, but the BookSwell Intersections team feels like we’re STILL recovering from the LA Times Festival of Books… Listen to Managing Editor Cody Sisco and Co-Host Dan Lopez debrief on that festival, as well as Dan’s new job in publishing, and some theatrical literature featuring with LGBTQ characters that he’s recently revisited. The meat of this episode is a fantastic interview with author, poet, activist and inter-country adoptee Julayne Lee. Her recent memoir in poems, Not Your White Savior, deals with her journey from a South Korean orphanage to a Midwestern Christian family, and the myriad issues transracial adoptees face. Learn more about Julayne, her upcoming work, and the workshops she facilitates for writers of color at her website. We finish our episode with an extended rundown of upcoming events from Shannon Eagen, including some specific panel recommendations for the LitFest Pasadena.
Episode 3 is here, and our listeners are in for a treat. To kick things off, Managing Editor Cody Sisco does a lighting round book roundup with Sarah Labrie. After that, enjoy an extended interview between Cody and rising literary star Patrick Nathan. His debut novel, Some Hell caught the attention of readers and critics alike. The heartbreaking coming-of-age/coming-out story was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and is a 2019 Lamdba Literary Award finalist. We’re so grateful Patrick took the time out of his busy schedule to chat about his career, his upbringing in small-town Minnesota, and the increasing demands placed on authors in the contemporary publishing landscape. Finally, we’re excited about all things Literary LA in April but as usual…the list is overwhelming. Lucky for you, BookSwell Contributor Shannon Eagen is here to give a roundup of some of the “can’t miss” events for lit fans that are looking to support underrepresented voices in our crowded literary scene.