The third annual New Orleans Poetry Festival occurred in April with a stacked deck of panels, walking tours, books, and of course readings. One of the headliners was poet, performer, and librettist Douglas Kearney, who is the author of six critically acclaimed books and teaches at CalArts in Santa Clarita, California. WRBH’s David Benedetto spoke to Kearney recently by phone about his writing habits, the intersection between opera and poetry, and just what one can learn from reading a glossary of international terms from the game of marbles.
WRBH’s David Benedetto: To start off with something fun— what’s the first poem you read that really had an effect on you, and could you describe how it made you feel?
Douglas Kearney: I think the one that I first read as a kid that really affected me was probably Shel Silverstein’s “The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt.” It’s interesting to think about that because I haven’t necessarily been thinking about it much recently, but when you asked the question it was sort of the thing that prepared my brain for falling in love with the work of folks like Harryette Mullen or that signifying games are like language games. I think that it was just the idea that these words could mean two or three things at once and that you could sort of juggle them around and shuffle them around. At the time, I didn’t think of that as being a real thread in poetry. I thought it was just this one thing that was happening. So now when I think about the kinds of works that I like or the kinds of work that I write or try to write through, it’s usually work that has that kind of play to it but really wants to use it for serious or sort of social commentary or cultural criticism.
WRBH: I get that. I’m interested in hearing a little bit more about the formulation of your poetry. Your poems are really enjoyable to look at. They can be really dense and sometimes have very dark material within them, but they’re very playful on the page. Do you have fun writing them? What’s your emotional state when you’re writing poems these days?
DK: [Laughing] The ones that are really dense on the page or playful on the page, I am working with what I would call a — with a little, fake-registered trademark at the end—poetics of accumulation. The example I always use is, if you’ve ever watched that old Public Access Television painting show with Bob Ross—the show lasts about 22-minutes—he’s painting for the first 18, and it doesn’t look like anything. Then somewhere around 18 minutes and 23 seconds, he makes a green dot and suddenly, “Oh my gosh! It’s a forest!” Right? When I write the poems that are playful on the page, it’s a very similar sort of feeling because I don’t want any one thread or any one block of text to carry the entirety of the message. I’m working on the entirety of the ideas; they’re all fragments of it. It’s only through their sort of interplay– what the poet David St. John called a kind of “mobile effect” – that you see that it kind of coheres. A lot of the times when I’m working in that mode, I’m terrified that it’s just not going to be anything. [Laughing] For the first three quarters of it I’m just sort of like, “Alright, something’s going to have to lock into place here.” And that’s fun, but it’s also an exercise in faith.
WRBH: That playful nature is also experimental. You are on the frontier of all these things whether or not they come out working. I know you edited a collection of the best experimental writing for 2015, and I was interested in what you think it means to be an experimental writer today? Because it’s meant so many things in the past and everybody’s always been on the edge of something, but what does it mean right now in 2018?
DK: Most of us talk about “experimental writing,” and we’re thinking of a style. But I really think honestly that “experimental” is a process. If I move from these kinds of performative, typographical poems and then decide to write really traditional—say sonnet—then that, for me as an individual, is an experiment. When editing that anthology, for some of the pieces that we selected, I was thinking about the poem-in-hand in the trajectory of that writer’s work. There were people for whom I was like, “Now this, for this person, is an experiment!” There were a few that got in where I was really kind of testing out that idea. I think that in 2018, in this particular moment, it’s not necessarily a new idea to use techniques from, say, social media or even visual forms from social media to generate poems. The Internet as a source of poetic composition—whether you’re talking about Flarf or less performatively, mediative appropriation techniques—that stuff’s been going on for a long time. I will honestly say that one of the things that I’m thinking about right now is, if we’re thinking about the possibilities of pulse in a poem—what a lot of people identify as meter, but not necessarily iambic pentameter, but just like pulse—how many accents are in a line, how many beats are in a line, and how does an emoji communicate? How does an emoji function in that kind of a poetic line? In other words, here’s an image that we can ascribe language to, but that language isn’t necessarily 100 percent clear. Like a winking emoji—is that saying just kidding? Is that just saying wink? What is the actual language that we’re applying to that? And so therefore if I have—going back to an example of a sonnet—a line and in the place of what would be a two syllable word, I put an emoji, do we read that emoji as like syllables? That, to me, is really interesting.
Also I think that right now a question around speed is important in the era of the hot take—an immediate response, time and permanence—I think those are things that are ripe for experimentation. What is the book of poetry in a moment of disposable text?
WRBH: I’ve been rereading your book from 2009, The Black Automaton, and thinking about some of the things that you’re doing in there—some of the strategies you have—in terms of the Facebook newsfeed and kind of that collage effect. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about that?
DK: At that point, I wasn’t on Facebook, but the ways that I think about a lot of the poems in The Black Automaton—because most of them I started in 2006—definitely a part of that. The idea of the flowchart. The first one I ever did didn’t actually make it into the book, but I remember showing Nicole—that’s the woman who married me—this draft, and I was like, “Oh, you know, baby, this is either like the coolest thing I’ve ever written or the most ridiculous. Maybe it’s both.” She just looked at it for three seconds and she was like, “Oh, it’s a map of the hip-hop consciousness,” [Laughing] and walked out of the room. I was like, “OK! That’s what it is.”
In the space of those poems, what I’m really interested in are two or three things. One is the idea of multiple voices in a space, and I guess that’s like the entry level to the Facebook newsfeed, right? As a multiple voice space. But because it’s quoting song lyrics, it also has the feel of ads or links or, “Watch this video!” When you quote something, in my sense of things, you want to highlight the part of the quote, the part of the full text that you’ve quoted, but you’re also kind of carrying in the rest of that thing with you. You don’t get to just quote this part without engaging in a relationship with the whole text. In that way, those quotes are acting as like links or like an image.
The last thing that I was really interested in with those poems is simultaneity. It’s easy to imagine interruption in a poem, but it’s harder to imagine two things happening at once in the text. We can understand it sort of narratively as it unspools, like if I say, “This is happening as this is happening,” but the actual act of two different threads of text—do they overlap or do they act in sequence? Do they wait their turn or do they interrupt or do they talk over each other? That also has a similarity to the teaming quality of a page where it’s updating [or] it’s refreshing as you go. There’s a GIF over here, and it’s switching around. When you’re reading a Facebook newsfeed, at one level your eye is seeing the entirety of the screen as a thing that’s happening. I think that’s why some people just can’t [or] don’t want to engage with it because it’s just too much. But yeah, I think I like that formulation. I can’t claim it on the front end, but seeing it in dialogue with that now as a way of sort of thinking through—I could definitely think through that even more.
WRBH: What are some words that people have used to describe your writing that you can’t stand?
DK: [Laughs] Gimmick? Yeah.
WRBH: [Laughing] That just disregards every effort put into your poems. Oof, Zing.
DK: Yeah, gimmick. I mean I’m conscious of the idea of people thinking that that’s what’s happening. From my perspective, I go through a lot of choices before I make a poem do the, again, performative-type typography. I feel like I’m pretty rigorous and robust about that process. So when somebody says “gimmick” it’s—exactly as you say, David—it’s like oh, OK. So none of that mattered. [Laughs] And people just aren’t going to engage. I feel like I’ve been fortunate in that the people who read the work—and then write about it or talk to me about it or ask questions about it—are being engaged or are working with it in a way that I think is generative and isn’t a slog for them. So I don’t have a lot of complaints about that kind of thing. But, yeah, gimmick is the one that—even before I saw it creep up in a review once—was already in my head. It [was] like the typography can’t be a special effect; it can’t be a gimmick.
WRBH: Do you write every day? Or, do you write poetry every day?
DK: I don’t write poetry every day. I’m so glad you sussed out that distinction because that’s been one that I’ve been talking to people about. That it’s easier to write every day than I think a lot of us imagine, but most of us feel like if you’re writing it means that I sat down and I produced a draft. Honestly a lot of us are like not even thinking, “I produced a draft.” You’re thinking like, “I produced a thing. I’m gonna’ adjust the font, you know, maybe change a line break.” [Laughs] I’ve had conversations with folks about what’s the equivalent to a poet playing scales? What’s the equivalent to a poet stretching?
The poet Jamal Johnson talked about—regarding his first book Red Summer—one of the things that he would do is he would just take a sentence, a line of poetry say, and he would write it over and over. Literally the same line–and physically write it over and over. No copy and pasting, he’s writing in his journal. He would do that for 20 or 25 times in a row, writing the same line. After 25 times, he would allow himself to change one word, so that he changed one word and then he’d do that 20 times, and he could change another word. This kind of process–that’s writing! Now, a person might not get up from the table and feel like, “Well, now I’ve completed a piece of poetry!” But in that time, he’s thinking about the rhythm of that sentence, he is making choices about [it]. He knows he’s got like three more times and then he gets to change one word. Right? Think about that kind of focus. Think about that kind of fidelity to the sentence, to the line. That’s writing at a really concentrated level.
I mean I’ve tried to do a better job of just writing every day even if it’s like a line that’s just expressing a moment of frustration. There’s a line that I wrote in my journal that says, “Slang is a gum doll professor!” [Laughing] I just like left that there. But I did that maybe three or four weeks ago, and on Monday, I was leafing through my journal and said, “Oh! What if I take that as a title?” And I wrote something–I wrote a poem. I don’t know that I love that poem. But I wrote to it, and I accomplished some things that I’m interested in thinking through in terms of rhyme scheme and sort of rhythmic pattern and that kind of thing.
WRBH: A kind of strategic-like moving forward, which I think is great because some people are like, “I have this draft, and I’m going to perfect this draft!” But I think having those exercises is like painting or sketching–you’re doing models in order to eventually incorporate them in a way that’s useful.
WRBH: Thinking about your coming to New Orleans, one of the things in your bio that kind of popped out to me was that you worked on a “hyper opera” called Crescent City. Could you tell me about that experience and a little bit about the opera itself?
DK: Absolutely. So Anne LeBaron, who was the composer, is also from Louisiana, and Crescent City evolved over the course of a few different operas–basically just different approaches to this question around water and its destructive capabilities. It started off as an opera called Wet, but it slowly morphed and changed. I didn’t write Wet, but I assistant directed a production of it in the winter of 2005. So it would have been the same year as Katrina. Crescent City builds on this kind of parallel New Orleans—a parallel universe version. The basic story is that there was a devastating hurricane that struck Crescent City, and it’s a year after. Another storm is coming, and it’s going to finish the work of the first one. Marie Laveau is tasked with trying to save [it], and she enlists the help of several Loa to try to do that. It’s basically the story of these Loa trying to find one good person in what’s left of the city, which is post-apocalyptic at this point. There’s like this group called the Revelers, who are sort of like the Maenads from Greek mythology, [who] just rampage around partying, but also in a very kind of destructive way. There are just a few citizens still there holding on and lots of ghosts.
I’ve worked a lot with Yuval Sharon, who is the head of an opera and performance company in Los Angeles called The Industry. So that project was The Industry’s inaugural production, and instead of using traditional sets, they commissioned seven visual artists to build installations. The opera was set in this warehouse space, so you had these installations up the entire time. Depending on where you were sitting in the opera, you might be closer to one scene than another, but it was constantly happening. So there was activity in every stage space, and you could come in the daytime and actually get a really close look at the installations themselves. It was a phenomenal experience working with that many different artists, designers, sound designers. They had these iPads they were walking around with that had mixing software built into them, so people were doing sound mixes live, walking through the opera while you were watching it. There’s just so many different artists, so much happening. It was really that hyper aspect of hyper opera as Anne LeBaron’s formulation [of it] as an extraordinarily interdisciplinary, multimedia approach to opera making, which is already, of course, interdisciplinary. This is like that interdisciplinary amped up to the nth degree.
WRBH: I know a lot of poets and a lot of writers value their solitude and their time away. Do you feel like you thrive when collaborating on a project like Crescent City, or is it something you have to strive for?
DK: When I work in opera–in any kind of more collaborative space–I go in there knowing that that’s what’s going to happen. So it’s kind of a change from the way I usually work [where] I get to work in my own in relative solitude. Opera, in particular for poets, is a fascinating space to be in because traditionally the libretto of an opera, the text in the opera, was not that–like people didn’t really care. I’d joke and say the librettist is somewhere around the same position as the person who sweeps up after the show. [Laughing] Right?
The composer, maybe a particular director, a vocalist, or a virtuosic musician and all of those folks are accorded a great deal of respect and prominence in the process or in the production of the opera. There was a book that I was reading called The Tenth Muse when I was preparing to write my first opera, which was for my thesis actually at CalArts. I decided to write an opera in a counterfeit Afro-diasporic language, so I had to make up the language and learn about opera for my thesis. This book really informed a lot of what I’ve learned about in terms of the position of the libretto and the librettist in the field of opera. A part of why I like working in opera is because the language is in this space of suspension. You know they’re going to say something! So it’s really interesting to be working in something that’s a high stakes space, but your part of it isn’t the high stakes. That allowed me to do some things I thought of as being somewhat subversive or allowed me to ask certain questions about language and performance in a way that [I couldn’t do] if it were the feature even in a stage play. You know, a stage play–as we’re kind of familiar with in the West–[where] people are up on stage and they’re speaking, where you are really alert to the dialogue and alert to how they’re verbally relating to each other. In opera, the language gets distorted; the language gets drowned out. The language gets suspended for dramatic action, you know? All of that stuff puts the language in this precarious space, at least as a way that I understand it, the way I’ve tried to write through it in the operas I’ve done since.
One of my big questions is, sort of idiomatically, if you have a libretto that’s written in U.S. American vernaculars or something like that, [mimics operatic-style singing] is that the voice that you actually need at that moment? [Laughing] Like what does that do? So one of the things I’m interested in with opera is—that approach to singing as an aesthetic—what happens if we develop a different aesthetic? An opera I finished fairly recently, Dead Horses, is a Western opera. My cousin is a composer, so he’s setting that. One of the things that I’ve talked about [is that] I cannot imagine this [Texas twang] western dialogue sung in that voice. We’ve got to come up with another system. I went to see Tom Waits: The Black Rider (Magic Bullets), and I was really excited about that because I was like, “OK, well surely this will sound different.” That one was like all the singers just sang like Tom Waits [Laughing], which is great, but also it didn’t synthesize Waits’ singing and transform it into something else. It was instead people using Waits’ singing as a way of approaching this material.
WRBH: That’s like active participation in the evolution of the form, which is not dead. The caricature of it, of course, is always funny, but it’s really interesting to see it continue and change. The New Orleans Opera Association down here celebrated their 75th anniversary this year and they put on a performance of Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION. Listening to snippets from that, it was like, “Oh, this is what this form can do!” The medium is never going to die as long as people are doing things like that.
DK: Absolutely, and that’s the thing. That’s where I wanted to really punctuate [that] my experience of seeing live productions or listening has been fairly limited. In some ways that leads me to certain kinds of excitement because I’m basically dumb enough to think that like, “Oh, well you know. We could do this.”
There’s an opera that I really wanted to see and never able to see performed– Cornelius Eady’s The Running Man, which is a jazz opera. There’s an entire genre of jazz operas that I just need to see be performed. I need to see what happens in those kinds of spaces. I’m just really interested in what can happen when you bring a digital projector and a laptop into a space and convert it into a theatrical space. I think that opera as a kind of an approach–like a suitcase opera–is really fascinating to think through.
WRBH: I’m excited to see some of those happen and to see what you do with that. That’s got to be exciting for you.
DK: Yeah, it is! I mean it’s just, you know, making the time for all the different things that you’re working on. The theater world is on a very different clock than the literary world, and so it’s balancing those sorts of things. If you have a family, your family signed on for a certain kind of time. [Laughing] Like when you’re poet-ing, you can be home sitting at the dining table; you’re there, and you’re still a part of things. It is exciting, but I’m also just sort of aware of like OK, well what am I actually going to be able to do and when am I going to stop saying, “Yeah, I’m working on these!” and actually get them done.
Dead Horses took about 10 years to figure out how to write. It started off being really satirical and trying to kneecap the Western as a genre. Then it started going through these really different sorts of nuances and different approaches and modes, and then I finally figured out how to do all the things that I wanted to do. I also began to understand how to think about writing an opera as a poet. It’s not, for me, the language that is going to be the major poetic feature. It has to be the way poets mobilize images. In my head, what does the stage look like? How does that communicate something about the emotional context? Of course, I can dream all I want about the stage, but if a designer goes, “No, I’m not going to do any of that,” then that changes things significantly. But at least it gives me a compositional anchor to work from that isn’t just trying to deliver as much of the plot as possible through language that might ultimately be difficult to understand when sung.
WRBH: Those constraints are interesting. Working in so many different veins and projects, how have you disciplined yourself to focus on different things at different times or arrange your schedule? It seems like it could be really overwhelming. Have you found tricks through the years that help you navigate that?
DK: There were times when I stalled for a second on any project, I would just turn and do the next thing. It’s kind of like spinning plates or something. I think that people who have tried to cook a big formal dinner by themselves are probably the best model. [Laughing] You know, that’s boiling, so now I can zest this lemon!
That is how I try to think through it. The most complex part is when your accounting for your hours doing these different things becomes shared. It’s one thing for you to tell me, “Alright, I need to have this many scenes written in two weeks.” Then somebody else is saying, “Alright, we want you to do this presentation, and we’re going to want you to have some written remarks.” All of that can happen simultaneously, and the thing that I love about being a writer is that I can say, “OK. Yeah, I can do all that,” then it’s up to me when that happens within that time. The thing that’s simultaneously a goad, but also the biggest challenge, is meetings–that we want to work on this together. You need to show us some material at this point. My thought is oftentimes, “Well, we could meet for an hour, or I could use this time blocked off as like 35 or 40 minutes of writing and then present you something.” And we could talk about it for 20 minutes and can be done. The tricks of it are, frankly, just not sleeping. [Laughing] You spend time with your family, you say goodnight to the last person who goes to bed before you, and then you just get started.
WRBH: So you’re a night owl when working?
DK: I used to be much better at that, at just not stopping. Now I’m more likely go to sleep around midnight and then wake up at [3:00] or [4:00] and get back to work. It’s gotten to the point now [where] I don’t set an alarm. If there’s something that I know I need to work on, I’m not going to be able to sleep past [4:00] in the morning. I’m going to wake up, I’m going to lie there for a second and think, Well, it’s time to get started on that essay or that poem you wanted to revise. I think that it’s calling. You’ve got to do some more work on a verse from this song cycle. And then there’s also, Oh, you didn’t grade papers! [Laughing] Or you’re leading a workshop today [so] you should probably review the poems.
All of that stuff is happening, but for better or for worse, my body has synced up with the noise and signal that’s happening in my mind. I think that the ultimate trick, if there is one, is that I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of conceptual framing of the project, and that’s something that you can kind of have going in the back of your mind basically all of the time. So now I’m ordering breakfast for my kids, and I’m sitting there going, “Oh, but what about this? Maybe it’s more like this.”
There’s a set of poems in my last book Buck Studies. I basically had to write those poems for publication in the book in about a year’s time, but there had to be 14 of them. They were being written partially to respond to—or to create tension with—another series of poems in that book that was 12 poems long but that I had written over the course of four to five years. So in that time I thought through literally everything from, Oh, I’ll write these poems to maybe they should be an opera to, quite literally, at one point I thought, Maybe I just need to learn how to make stained glass windows so that I could make these stained glass windows and then I can photograph the stained glass windows and put those in the book.
WRBH: [Laughing] Oh, wow. That is like eight steps removed.
DK: Exactly. But what happens then is I spent this time thinking about stained glass windows so suddenly all of this vocabulary around the technique of making stained glass windows enters my vocabulary. At one point I said, “OK, I’m not going to have time to make stained glass. That’s ridiculous.” But what if I treat each poem like a stained glass window? Then we’re like, “OK, we could do that.” So I do all this additional research and then the stained glass windows sort of creep into two or three of the 14 poems, or I found this glossary of international terms from the game of marbles because at one point I was like, “Oh, marbles! Marbles are a part of this conversation,” right? And I spent hours and hours reading this glossary just to get the language so I could be more specific or find the link or find a term that would capture all of what I needed to say in every way I could think to say it in six or seven syllables. Is there a term that’s two syllables that sounds like “ay.” And again, I spent hours doing that research and finding stuff all to get maybe two lines or two words, but that’s worth it. That, to me, is worth it because you’re on to something. So for me, I’m just constantly thinking of how I’m going to get into the poem. Once I write a draft that feels like, Yeah, this is it. This is the linguistic register, this is the kind of energy, this is the tone, then I can be off to the races.
Dead Horses, the opera that took 10 years to figure out, I wrote the entirety of the opera in about a week and a half after all of that time thinking through it. So for me, it’s just the constant thinking through of how it’s framed, how I’m going to get into it. I’m just always thinking about how I’m going to do. [Laughing] You know this is always happening in there. It’s about waiting for the right conditions, but also trying stuff. Something I tell students all the time is your first draft’s only job is to not be your final draft. That’s its only job. So make something, try something. And it at least will tell you oh, this isn’t quite it. Or maybe you luck out and it’s oh, this is close. But you just got to do something. It’s the thinking through and then trying something that you thought, just getting something out to sort of work with.
WRBH: That leads me to my next question concerning strategies, formalizing, and frameworks. I subscribe to Poets.org’s “Poem-A-Day” newsletter. There was one today by Aracelis Girmay, and she had this quote at the very end of it I’ve been thinking about. She said, “Probably I will be writing this poem for the rest of my life.” I thought that was beautiful. I wanted to talk to you about that and see if there’s a certain poetic idea or a certain thing that’s really stuck with you—that you’re either really continually trying to formulate into a poem every time or that you’re always writing variations on it?
DK: That’s such a great question. One of the things I think about a lot is human capacity for cruelty. I think I write about that a lot. I think I write about the idea of the intersection of violence and entertainment a lot. That allows me to write what I’m thinking about—you know, performance and being a performer. I think that that becomes a thing I’m constantly going back to. Or maybe it’s how the “spectacular” is often centered around violence. I think that as an African-American writer and somebody who grew up in Los Angeles, this is particularly interesting to me because, at one level, you watch the video of the police officers beating Rodney King—spectacle and violence. You listen to gangster rap—that is spectacle and violence. The Western as a film genre is what kept Hollywood going for years—again spectacle and violence. Sports. It’s in all the car chases that are broadcast on the news. All of that. I just feel that that’s the field I work in most of all.
WRBH: What are you reading right now? And are there any big projects that you’re working on at the moment?
DK: Right now, I am reading Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas. I’m also reading Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ M Archive. I’ve gone back to reading a bunch of Carl Phillips as well. So those are the three things that are on my nightstand right now. Just exploring those. In terms of projects, I’m working on a couple of musically based collaborations. There’s a bunch of poems I’ve written that would possibly be in a manuscript called Actors, Not Real People. Then there’s some essays as well that I’ve been kind of dealing with. Sort of like performative essays or lectures.
WRBH: What work are you most proud of at this point? Is there a single poem or anything that you’ve worked on that you were really just happy or solid with?
DK: Raising my kids. I love my children. But if I had to pick something that I’ve written… Wow, that’s hard. I feel good when I feel like I’ve been able to communicate an idea or to capture something in a way that’s clear or the right kind of murk, right? I like things that I’ve written. I enjoy them, or I like watching how the kind of typographic work has changed. I also tend to look at the work and see—not [that] it’s tortured [or] like, “Oh, it’ll never be good!”—but I just look and act like, “OK, this is what I learned by doing that. How can I take this further?” Or, “What’s a different way of exploring it.” So I think more than any individual piece, if I were to say I’m proud of anything I guess I would say I am proud of the fact that I have been able to open myself up enough to the demands of the poems. That, generally speaking, what I feel needs to happen—or what I feel like I need to explore or what I feel like I need to learn—is more important than me just making sure I replicate something that I would think of as a success.
I am proud of my ability to commit to poetry as a pursuit, and when I say I’m proud of my ability, I don’t mean like I am proud that I have this skill set. No, I feel [it] because I didn’t expect that I would commit to anything like that. I don’t know if pride is the right word. It’s just I’m glad that I don’t feel like I’ve gotten there yet. I’m glad. I feel that there are more questions and maybe better questions or just I’m just willing to follow these questions. I’m glad that folks have come along with me on this trip because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect people to be interested, not for as long as they have now. Not in the ways that they have. So I don’t think I can take credit for any of that as much as I can just say, “Wow, poetry is so capacious, and I’m honored that I can participate in it in a way that might mean something more than to just me.” But I don’t think that’s pry. I think I just feel blessed.
This interview was transcribed from an episode of The Writer’s Forum, a weekly program on WRBH Reading Radio for the Blind and Print Impaired focused on showcasing local and national authors, poets, historians, journalists and historians. You can find the full archive of programs here: www.soundcloud.com/WRBHreadingradio/sets/the-writers-forum
WRBH Reading Radio is a New Orleans station whose mission is to turn the printed word into the spoken word so that the blind and print handicapped can receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers. You can listen to your favorite books, magazines, and interviews locally at 88.3 FM or stream on WRBH’s website www.WRBH.org.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.