The PEN Pod

The PEN Pod

By PEN America
As an organization that's all about the literary community, PEN America knows that the current health crisis is hitting our Members and friends particularly hard. This limited-run podcast, "The PEN Pod," is meant to provide regular updates and conversations about literature and free expression, and provide an outlet for our in-person events that have been postponed or canceled.

Join the conversation online at pen.org and on our social channels @PENAmerica. Thanks for tuning in.
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Episode 55: The Twin Epidemics of COVID-19 and Police Violence with Karen Attiah

The PEN Pod

Episode 55: The Twin Epidemics of COVID-19 and Police Violence with Karen Attiah

The PEN Pod

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Episode 97: A Time To Be More Fearless with Sholeh Wolpe and Nathalie Handal
Two poets and writers discuss the power of literature at a moment like ours; how writing about diaspora and dislocation are powerful tools in the literary arsenal; and what they're telling their students about writing amid a pandemic. Sholeh Wolpe and Nathalie Handal join us for an extended conversation in this edition of The PEN Pod.
18:39
August 3, 2020
Episode 96: Portland, Breaking Up the Social Media Giants, and Disinformation with Suzanne Nossel
This week, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel is out with her new book Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. Even so, she makes time to parse through some of the biggest free speech questions of the week in our TOUGH QUESTIONS segment. We talk about the big tech companies and how breaking them up might actually benefit free speech; the drawdown of federal law enforcement in Portland; plus, disinformation on the horizon.
11:27
July 31, 2020
Episode 95: Memorial Drive with Natasha Trethewey
On this extended edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to Pulitzer winner and two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey about her new memoir MEMORIAL DRIVE, a story that honors the life of her mother and how her mother's life shaped her own. Plus, she discusses the changes underway in the American south around historical memory and race.
12:10
July 30, 2020
Episode 94: Allying Against Online Harassment with Viktorya Vilk and Emily May
PEN America is launching a series of webinars teaching you how to support friends or colleagues who are enduring online harassment. PEN America is teaming up with Hollaback, the anti-harassment organization, to lead that series, and in this episode, we talk to Hollaback's co-founder Emily May, as well as PEN America's Viktorya Vilk.
13:02
July 29, 2020
Episode 93: Dare to Speak with Suzanne Nossel
Today is publication day for PEN America's Suzanne Nossel. Her new book DARE TO SPEAK: DEFENDING FREE SPEECH FOR ALL goes on sale today, and her national book tour starts tonight. In this conversation, she discusses why she wrote this book now, and how she hopes it might help us all navigate the tricky terrain of free speech, cancel culture, and free expression.
09:49
July 28, 2020
Episode 92: Mentorship Remotely with Shannon Gatewood and Rachel M. Harper
Today we continue our series of conversations between PEN America Emerging Voices Fellows and their mentors. We speak with Shannon Gatewood and her mentor, novelist Rachel M. Harper, about the experience of virtual mentorship and writing about identity.
13:10
July 27, 2020
Episode 91: Portland, Michael Cohen, and Defending Speech with Suzanne Nossel
It's Friday, which means it's time for our weekly Tough Questions segment with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. We discuss the First Amendment implications of the showdowns in Portland, Michael Cohen's return to prison, and Suzanne's new book, DARE TO SPEAK, publishing Tuesday.
11:49
July 24, 2020
Episode 90: Avoid the Obvious with Jaswinder Bolina
On today's edition, we speak with poet and writer Jaswinder Bolina, whose new essay collection OF COLOR just published this summer. He talks about how the text does and doesn't respond to our current moment of racial reckoning, and he offers his guidance for how to put pen to paper.
15:09
July 23, 2020
Episode 89: Hollywood in Transition with Kim Masters
The entertainment industry is searching for ways out of the lockdown—while it also reckons with systemic racial inequalities. The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters walks us through just how Hollywood is changing for writers and creative professionals, and what might happen when we emerge from the pandemic.
16:50
July 22, 2020
Sisters in Hate with Seyward Darby
How has the far-right movement attracted so many people, in particular women? Reporter Seyward Darby has been documenting how three such individuals came to occupy positions of power within the hate movement in America. We talk about her new book SISTERS IN HATE: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism. Plus, unidentified federal agents swooping in on the streets of Portland.
15:06
July 21, 2020
Episode 87: Writing and Mentorship with M. Kiguwa and Antonia Crane
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we kick off our series of conversations with our Emerging Voices fellows and their mentors, starting with M. Kiguwa and her mentor Antonia Crane. They talk about how mentorship has changed amid the pandemic and what the next generation of writers might bring to the table.
16:51
July 20, 2020
Episode 86: Bari Weiss, White House Briefings, and Disinformation with Suzanne Nossel
On this Friday edition of The PEN Pod, we put our toughest questions about free speech to PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, author of the forthcoming book DARE TO SPEAK: DEFENDING FREE SPEECH FOR ALL. We discuss The New York Times' writer Bari Weiss, the renewed hostility of White House press briefings, and the looming threat of election-related disinformation. 
12:16
July 17, 2020
Episode 85: Sex, Lies, and the Arab World with Leïla Slimani
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to author Leïla Slimani about her first non-fiction work, Sex and Lies: True Stories of Women's Intimate Lives in the Arab World. She profiles women who share with her the balance between their public and private lives, and discusses prospects for change when it comes to women and sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa. Plus, we preview two new reading lists now available at PEN.org.
10:59
July 16, 2020
Episode 84: Tearing Down Systemic Racism in Hollywood with Bianca Sams, Michelle Amor, and Hilliard Guess
On today's edition, we bring you a roundtable conversation with the leaders of the Black committee of writers at the Writers Guild of America West. We discuss how the pipeline for Black talent in Hollywood is broken, ensuring that writers of color are being paid to tell their own stories, and how the major Hollywood players need to do more than just lip service to serve racial justice.
21:07
July 15, 2020
Episode 83: Race, Place, and Belonging with Sejal Shah
On this episode, PEN America's Gina Chung talks with author Sejal Shah, whose new memoir This Is One Way To Dance: Essays on Race, Place, & Belonging published this June. They discuss how the collection is meant to defy stereotypes and reshape narratives about South Asian identity in the U.S.
23:14
July 14, 2020
Episode 82: Catrachos with Roy G. Guzmán
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we speak with poet Roy G. Guzmán about their debut collection of poems, Catrachos. They call it something like a Bildungsroman, a collection that reflects queer identity and resilience. 
14:18
July 13, 2020
Episode 81: Tough Questions about Hong Kong, Tik Tok, and Harper's Magazine Letter with Suzanne Nossel
It's Friday, which means it's time for our weekly "Tough Questions" segment with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, author of the forthcoming book Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. As we near the book's publication date, we discuss how the social platforms are dealing with the crisis in Hong Kong; we dissect the U.S. government's threat to ban the ever-popular Tik Tok; and we delve into the controversy surrounding a letter in Harper's Magazine about free speech.
13:22
July 10, 2020
Episode 80: Pressures on Kids Amid the Pandemic with Ed Lin
On this episode of The PEN Pod, we speak with YA author Ed Lin about his forthcoming book David Tung Can't Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College, and on the pressures and universal experiences young people are facing. Plus, our weekly World Voices Festival reading list.
11:13
July 8, 2020
Episode 79: We Are Living a Deeply Mythic Moment with Julia Alvarez
On this Tuesday edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez about her new book AFTERLIFE; what we can learn about empathy from reading; and the parallels in writing books for younger readers and books for adults.
19:49
July 7, 2020
Episode 78: So Much to Unpack and Unlearn with Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris
On this edition of The PEN Pod, playwrights Jeremy O. Harris and Lynn Nottage in conversation about the theater, its future, and abolishing the structures of anti-Blackness in the theater world. Plus, how policymakers are rethinking regulation for Facebook and Twitter.
12:42
July 6, 2020
Episode 77: Social Media, Mary Trump, and Hong Kong Woes with Suzanne Nossel
As we head into the Independence Day weekend, we have an extended version of our weekly TOUGH QUESTIONS segment with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. In this edition, we talk social media platforms, Mary Trump's book, and the status of free expression in Hong Kong.
15:19
July 3, 2020
Episode 76: Small Things We Cannot See That Change Our Lives with Ed Yong
On this edition of The PEN Pod, PEN America's Gina Chung talks to science journalist Ed Yong about the missed signals of the COVID-19 pandemic, what we can learn from microbes, and how a splintering of information may have worsened the pandemic. Then, stone soup for our most recent installment of Writers Who Cook.
15:17
July 2, 2020
Episode 75: No Reason Not to Produce More Plays with Jacqueline Goldfinger
On today's episode, we talk about playwriting amid the pandemic and how plays might be viewed through a new lens in the wake of a global virus. Then, we hear a conversation about justice and children's literature with authors Fatima Shaik, Amy Nathan, and Sharon Langley.
18:06
July 1, 2020
Episode 74: Lakewood with Megan Giddings
We talk to author Megan Giddings about her book LAKEWOOD, a novel that navigates dark themes of human experimentation, exploitation, and the lengths we go to when our loved ones' lives are on the line. Then we talk about a disturbing case of retaliation against a Russian theater director.
14:50
June 30, 2020
Episode 73: Everywhere You Don't Belong with Gabriel Bump
On today's episode, we speak to debut novelist Gabriel Bump about his book Everywhere You Don't Belong, and how this Chicago story is a coming of age book that also grapples with some of the major issues confronting America right now. Plus, a World Voices Festival reading list.
11:46
June 29, 2020
Episode 72: Tough Questions Plus Renewed Calls to Support Writers
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we discuss rescinded college admissions for students who use hate speech; the dismissal of multiple leaders from U.S.-funded broadcasters; and how disinformation might impact the election—that's all part of our Tough Questions segment with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. Then, a group of literary organizations petitions the mayor to support writers and the literary community.
22:38
June 26, 2020
Episode 71: Collecting History with Tyree Boyd-Pates
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to curator Tyree Boyd-Pates at Los Angeles' Autry Museum about a new project to collect artifacts from the COVID-19 era. Then, we mark what would have been Octavia Butler's birthday.
11:25
June 25, 2020
Episode 70: Richard Nixon for Kids with Elizabeth Levy and Fatima Shaik
Children's' and YA book author Elizabeth Levy shares more on her new book about Nixon, as well as her thoughts on truth and government in a conversation with writer Fatima Shaik. Then we look at a number of new books out around criminal justice.
14:12
June 24, 2020
Episode 69: The Classic Fact Check with Snopes' Alex Kasprak
On today's edition, we dive into the deep dark world of internet disinformation with investigative journalist Alex Kasprak of Snopes.com. Then, a reading list celebrating debuts from Black LGBTQIA+ authors for this pride month.
14:35
June 23, 2020
Episode 68: Writers Called to Reimagine the World with Lisa Ko
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to author Lisa Ko about what the current crises demand of writers, and how her work might be read now amid the pandemic. Plus, a federal judge allows the publication of John Bolton's memoir to proceed.
11:19
June 22, 2020
Episode 67: Juneteenth in Tulsa with Quraysh Ali Lansana, Plus Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel
Today, we mark this Juneteenth with a conversation with historian Quraysh Ali Lansana. The Tulsa-based writer discusses the weekend's planned Trump rally, the legacies of anti-Black racism in Oklahoma, and how writers are coming together in solidarity. Then, we turn to free expression threats amid the election, liability for social platforms, and John Bolton's book with our CEO Suzanne Nossel for our Friday TOUGH QUESTIONS segment. 
31:02
June 19, 2020
Episode 66: Poets and the Pandemic with Vincent Bristow
On today's episode, we talk to poet Vincent Bristow, part of the Open Doors arts and justice collaborative here in New York City that works mainly with people impacted by street violence. He speaks about how COVID has impacted his community and shares an original poem. Then, we listen in on a conversation from our These Truths podcast between writers Alexis Okeowo and Ishmael Beah.
13:14
June 18, 2020
Episode 65: The Importance of Memory with Jaquira Diaz
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we talk with author of ORDINARY GIRLS: A MEMOIR Jaquira Diaz. She highlights how the stories of Black and Brown girls, especially those of color, were so hard to come by in her childhood, and the erasure of Black Puerto Ricans in the historical memory. Then, John Bolton is sued by the White House.
14:30
June 17, 2020
Episode 64: Putting Tech Under The Microscope with Ainissa Ramirez
We talk to writer and scientist Ainissa Ramirez about how eight inventions have shaped humanity, which she explores in her book THE ALCHEMY OF US. We talk about the often unheralded women and people of color who are part of the story of technology in recent centuries and how tech is influenced by our own biases.
10:53
June 16, 2020
Episode 63: Honoring Literary Excellence with Ruben Quesada and Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf
Today we open submissions for the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards, one of the most diverse literary award lineups in the country. But how do awards help shape and diversify the literary canon? And how can we view awards in the context of all the crises happening across the country. PEN America's own Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf and poet Ruben Quesada help us understand all of it, plus Quesada shares an original poem
18:21
June 15, 2020
Episode 62: When Incremental Change Isn't Fast Enough with Suzanne Nossel
It's Friday, which means it's time to pose tough questions about free speech and free expression to PEN America's CEO Suzanne Nossel. This week, while protesters are making major change, we ask the hard question: Is free expression back on its heels? We talk about The New York Times op-ed debacle, the president's selective affinity for the First Amendment, and how the publishing industry is impacted by this moment.
13:52
June 12, 2020
Episode 61: The Undocumented Americans with Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
On this episode of The PEN Pod, we speak to author of THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. She discusses telling a fuller story of the undocumented experience and the need for solidarity amid manifold crises. And just a note: this episode includes discussion of mental health.
22:31
June 11, 2020
Episode 60: Sharing Your Voices, Accentuating Others with Pawan Dhingra
Pawan Dhingra's new book explores the hyper-educated child but also how the next generation might cope with the current crises. Then, as summer approaches, we're offering a new program for high school and college students eager to engage on the issues of free speech and free expression.
14:28
June 10, 2020
Episode 59: A Family Saga with Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Nguyen Phan Que Mai weaves together a fictional family saga with the real-life traumas of Vietnam's tumultuous 20th century in her new work THE MOUNTAINS SING. Plus, a reading list for our moment.
13:41
June 9, 2020
Episode 58: The Passion of Protest with Simran Jeet Singh
In this installment of The PEN Pod, we check in with author and activist Simran Jeet Singh; he's out with a new children's book, and he reflects on the protests he's witnessed in New York City. Then we get an excerpt from our PEN World Voices Festival podcast These Truths with a conversation among three writers.
17:08
June 8, 2020
Episode 57: Fighting Anti-Black Violence, Defending the First Amendment
On today's edition, we talk to our CEO Suzanne Nossel about what literary organizations can do at this moment of crisis as part of our weekly series "Tough Questions." Then, we get insights from general counsel of the Authors Guild, playwright, and TV writer Cheryl L. Davis on how books and literature can help us better understand this difficult moment of unrest.
19:31
June 5, 2020
Episode 56: Honoring an Imprisoned Chinese Writer; Plus a These Truths Conversation
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we announce the winner of our 2020 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, imprisoned Chinese writer and activist Xu Zhiyong. We speak to his friend, scholar and advocate Teng Biao. Then, an excerpt of a conversation between authors Yuri Herrera and Fernanda Melchor, part of our PEN World Voices podcast These Truths
17:00
June 4, 2020
Episode 55: The Twin Epidemics of COVID-19 and Police Violence with Karen Attiah
On this episode of The PEN Pod, we check in with Karen Attiah, journalist and global opinions editor at the Washington Post. She reflects on the intersecting political crises of COVID-19 and state-sanctioned violence, and urges us to turn the lens of criticism inward. Then, we want to hear about how we can use this platform to uplift more voices.
22:35
June 3, 2020
Episode 54: #TheShowMustBePaused
Today, we take a break from our normal production schedule alongside others participating in #TheShowMustBePaused.
02:33
June 2, 2020
Episode 53: An American Reckoning
A weekend of demonstrations and excessive violence by state actors has led to a major reckoning for the First Amendment. On this episode, we hear from a Reuters journalist shot with rubber bullets by police in Minneapolis. And then our own Nora Benavidez examines the implications this weekend may have for protest rights moving forward.
18:10
June 1, 2020
Episode 52: Magical Thinking with Wayetu Moore, Plus Trump's Twitter Meltdown with Suzanne Nossel
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to Liberian American author Wayetu Moore about her memoir The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, and how magical thinking helped her and her family persevere through war. Then, Suzanne Nossel walks us through the president's executive order targeting social media companies.
25:39
May 29, 2020
Episode 51: Poetry and Protest with Nora Benavidez and Ann Kjellberg
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we explore how protest is increasingly being criminalized on the state level with our own Nora Benavidez. Then, this week would've been poet Joseph Brodsky's 80th birthday. We talk about a new collection of his work and why it still resonates with Ann Kjellberg.
23:25
May 28, 2020
Episode 50: Imagining a Time Beyond with Helen Zia
Today, as PEN America and the Asian American Writers' Workshop host a day of solidarity, we talk about the spike in anti-Asian sentiment with longtime activist and author Helen Zia. Also, it's our 50th episode. Let us know how we're doing, what you're reading, and what we can do to make the next 50 episodes even better.
19:53
May 27, 2020
Episode 49: Tulsa's Busiest Bookseller, Plus Fighting Anti-Asian Sentiment
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we connect with Tulsa's Jeff Martin, who runs Magic City Books and leads PEN America's Tulsa chapter. He talks about how he's keeping the community there connected and what might change about bookselling after the crisis. Then we discuss anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic.
17:41
May 26, 2020
Episode 48: Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel, Plus How a Dallas Bookseller Keeps Going
On this episode, our CEO Suzanne Nossel addresses questions about government surveillance, White House retaliation against journalism, and imprisoned writers globally in our weekly TOUGH QUESTIONS segment. Then, Will Evans and Cristina Rodriguez from bookseller Deep Vellum in Dallas talk about how they are keeping the literary community in Texas vibrant
20:36
May 22, 2020
Episode 47: Questioning Everything More with Carmen Boullosa
On this edition, we speak with poet and author Carmen Boullosa about her new text, The Book of Anna, and urges readers to more fully dive into the books they pick up. Then, we cover the Senate's move to support global journalism.
12:40
May 21, 2020
Episode 46: A Life Sentence with Jewher Ilham
As part of our ongoing interviews about writers detained globally, today we speak with Jewher Ilham, whose father, Uyghur economist, writer, and professor Ilham Tohti, was sentenced to life in a Chinese prison. She discusses the last day she saw her father and why she and those who support him will never relent until he is released. 
15:49
May 20, 2020
Episode 45: The Freedom to Write with Karin Deutsch Karlekar and Ahmed Naji
Today, a special edition of The PEN Pod, as we launch our global Freedom to Write Index of imprisoned writers and public intellectuals globally. First, we speak with PEN America's own Karin Deutsch Karlekar about the countries that imprisoned the most writers in 2019. And then, an essay from novelist Ahmed Naji about his own time in an Egyptian prison and the global campaign for his freedom.
16:52
May 19, 2020
Episode 44: Crimean Tatars Under Threat with Myroslava Gongadze
Today on The PEN Pod, we mark the 76th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars by speaking with VOA reporter Myroslava Gongadze, who walks us through how Crimea's indigenous people are facing severe repression under Russian occupation. Plus, we check out writers who cook.
12:43
May 18, 2020
Episode 43: Crisis, Opportunity, and the Vitality of Literature with Rebecca Makkai; Plus Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel
On this Friday's edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to acclaimed author Rebecca Makkai about working amid a crisis, parallels between her work and our experience now, and the need for art and literature. Plus, in our weekly TOUGH QUESTIONS segment with Suzanne Nossel, how Plandemic made waves and the president's attacks on journalists.
20:13
May 15, 2020
Episode 42: Re-Reading Mary Shelley with Eileen Hunt Botting
On this edition of The PEN Pod, we talk all things Mary Shelley with scholar Eileen Hunt Botting, who has called Shelly's text THE LAST MAN the first major modern pandemic novel. She explores how the book was informed by Shelley's own life and how we might interpret it now.
14:52
May 14, 2020
Episode 41: After Chaos Upends Everything with Lulu Miller; Plus, Remembering Carolyn Reidy
On today's episode, we explore the new book WHY FISH DON'T EXIST with its author Lulu Miller, who manages to weave together a scientific narrative with a personal one. Then, we remember the late Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon and Schuster.
11:42
May 13, 2020
Episode 40: The Virtual Campus with Jonathan Friedman
On this, our 40th episode of The PEN Pod, we take you to the Zoom classroom, where students have been learning in a total virtual environment for two months now. What are the complications for free speech and expression? We turn to our own Jonathan Friedman to discuss.
10:04
May 12, 2020
Episode 39: A Hungarian Tale with Mark Baczoni, Plus THESE TRUTHS
In this installment of The PEN Pod, we speak to writer and translator Mark Baczoni, who has just translated Janos Szekely's novel TEMPTATION into English. And then, we preview the new THESE TRUTHS podcast with a conversation between essayist John Freeman and novelist Elif Shafak.
16:08
May 11, 2020
Episode 38: Social Media Platform Reform with Suzanne Nossel; Plus Novelist Andrey Kurkov
In this edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America and author of the forthcoming book DARE TO SPEAK, about how the social media platforms are taking new governance steps. Then we check in with our colleagues in Ukraine for how the literary community there is weathering the coronavirus.
14:50
May 8, 2020
Episode 37: Claiming Ourselves Through Language with Jose Antonio Vargas
On this episode, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas explores how the pandemic response is excluding undocumented people, as well as the unique freedom that is inherent in writing. Then, the PEN World Voices Festival is back.
18:12
May 7, 2020
Episode 36: Letting Go of Our Illusions with Charles Yu
On today's edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to author and screenwriter Charles Yu about his new book and entertainment stereotypes. We also catch up with PEN America's Polina Sadovskaya about how Russia and former Soviet states have responded to the pandemic.
20:41
May 6, 2020
Episode 35: An American in Italy with Wallis Wilde-Menozzi
On today's episode, we talk with author Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, based in Italy, about her experience weathering the pandemic in Parma. Then, the Pulitzer Prizes are announced.
08:56
May 5, 2020
Episode 34: Thrillers in a Time of Crisis with Karin Slaughter
On today's episode of The PEN Pod, we talk to bestselling author Karin Slaughter about writing thrillers, pandemics, and the work she's doing to support local libraries.
11:19
May 4, 2020
Episode 33: Unorthodox with Deborah Feldman, Plus Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel
On this episode, we speak to author of UNORTHODOX Deborah Feldman, whose hit memoir about leaving an ultra-religious Jewish community in Brooklyn is now the basis of a Netflix series. Plus, if it's Friday, it's time for Tough Questions about free speech with Suzanne Nossel. This week, the virus, online harassment, and YouTube.
24:29
May 1, 2020
Episode 32: Critically Engaging with the World with Dinaw Mengestu
On this edition, we talk to novelist and PEN America trustee Dinaw Mengestu for how he's teaching writing amid the pandemic, and what we can learn from his work about uncertainty. Then our own Julie Trebault discusses the challenges facing artists amid a global crackdown against artistic expression.
12:32
April 30, 2020
Episode 31: The Spiritual Urgency of Poetry with Carolyn Forché
On today's episode, poet and activist Carolyn Forché shares insights on the power of poetry, the concepts of migration and movement during a lockdown, and reads from her new collection.
12:28
April 29, 2020
Episode 30: A Photo and a Family Saga with Brandon Shimoda
On this, our 30th episode, we talk to PEN America Literary Award winner Brandon Shimoda and the epic family tale he tells in The Grave on the Wall. Plus, our efforts to get state governors to support local journalism.
10:24
April 28, 2020
Episode 29: A Search for Empathy with Ramiza Koya
On today's episode for Monday, April 27, we talk to debut novelist Ramiza Koya about her new book THE ROYAL ABDULS; she discusses her own health struggles and how her community in Portland has come to support her. Plus, how small and independent publishing houses are coping with COVID-19.
10:52
April 27, 2020
Episode 28: Endurance, Survival, and Poetry with Rigoberto Gonzalez; Plus Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel
On this Friday edition of The PEN Pod, we talk to poet Rigoberto Gonzalez about how family history helps define his work and about how he still sees plenty of beauty in our socially isolated world. Then, it's time for Tough Question with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
20:53
April 24, 2020
Episode 27: The Paris Review Transforms with Emily Nemens, Plus Supporting the Literary Arts
On this episode, we talk to the editor of the Paris Review Emily Nemens about how the magazine has changed, and about her new book. We also hear from listeners, and discuss ways cities can support the literary arts.
10:57
April 23, 2020
Episode 26: Belonging in the World with Mimi Lok, Plus the Outlook From Hong Kong
For Wednesday's episode, we talk about belonging, mentorship, and human connections with author Mimi Lok. We also discuss how the coronavirus is impacting the ability to demonstrate in Hong Kong.
17:29
April 22, 2020
Episode 25: The Possibility of Surprise with Emily St. John Mandel, Plus Local Journalists as Heroes
On today's edition, we talk to novelist Emily St. John Mandel about her new book and a bit about her own writing on a post-pandemic future. We're also joined by PEN America's own Katie Zanecchia to talk about the organization's work elevating the reporting of local journalists.
12:42
April 21, 2020
Episode 24: Cities and Our Future with N.K. Jemisin, Plus a Virtual Translation Festival with Mary Ann Newman
On this Monday's episode, we talk to Hugo Award winning author N.K. Jemisin reckoning with real themes in a fantasy world, and then Catalan translator Mary Ann Newman on bringing a translation festival online.
15:06
April 20, 2020
Episode 23: This Moment Will Change Literally Everything with Franklin Leonard; Plus Tough Questions with Suzanne Nossel
On this Friday, we talk to film executive and PEN America board member Franklin Leonard on the coronavirus crisis' impact on screenwriters and the dynamic in Hollywood. Then, it's our weekly Tough Questions segment with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
21:20
April 17, 2020
Episode 22: Connecting Through Translation with Ali Araghi; Plus Prisons and E-Books
On this episode, we discuss translation and uncertainty with debut Iranian novelist Ali Araghi. We also cover a letter from PEN America to the companies that make e-readers for the nation's prisons and jails, insisting they waive all pay-per-access fees for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
17:23
April 16, 2020
Episode 21: The Magic of Writing with Bernardine Evaristo; Plus, Washington Post's Paul Farhi
On this edition, we talk to British author Bernardine Evaristo about her latest novel and how she was able to assemble its incredible assortment of characters. Then, we discuss journalism and how reporters are handling White House briefings with Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi.
21:10
April 15, 2020
Episode 20: Coronavirus Behind Bars: Nobody Can Afford Not to Care Right Now
In this special edition, we explore how the coronavirus pandemic is raging through the nation's prisons and jails. We talk to our own Caits Meissner for the latest on how the pandemic is impacting the writers we work with on the inside. We discuss reporting on the outbreak with investigative journalist Beth Shelburne. And then we hear a poem from the inside by Justin Rovillos Monson.
16:11
April 14, 2020
Episode 19: Writing Duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell on Science and the Outbreak
Medical examiner Dr. Judy Melinek and her husband/writing partner T.J. Mitchell discuss writing about medicine and science amid a pandemic (and experiencing their own quarantine). Plus, the White House's unfounded attack on Voice of America, and a new musical series from PEN America, Just Press Play.
13:35
April 13, 2020
Episode 18: Novelist Ruchika Tomar on Inequality and the Outbreak, Plus Tough Questions With Suzanne Nossel
For this Friday, we talk to PEN/Hemingway Award winner Ruchika Tomar about her debut novel A Prayer for Travelers and on the inequities of the outbreak. And then our weekly segment Tough Questions with our CEO Suzanne Nossel.
18:59
April 10, 2020
Episode 17: Are We Really In This Together? With M. NourbeSe Philip
In this episode, we talk about the pandemic, poetry, and the inequalities of the outbreak with M. NourbeSe Philip, and she shares an original poem. Also, PEN America and a broad coalition call on Congress to include local news in the next coronavirus stimulus package.
12:52
April 9, 2020
Episode 16: War and Peace With Yiyun Li
On this episode, 2020 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award winner Yiyun Li talks about her virtual book club, currently working its way through War and Peace. Also, the trend of information lockdown amid the crisis, and how you can help writers in need.
10:10
April 8, 2020
Episode 15: Jennifer Egan on Recovering From Coronavirus, Shaping Opportunity From Cataclysm
On this episode, PEN America president Jennifer Egan discusses her own bout with a suspected case of coronavirus and how we can pull together as a literary community.
12:01
April 7, 2020
Episode 14: Reading in an Era of Contagion With David L. Ulin
On this episode, we talk with book critic and writer David L. Ulin about books to read amid a pandemic. We also discuss the reaction to the Navy dismissing a captain who spoke out about the outbreak. Plus, a new reading list at PEN.org.
09:51
April 6, 2020
Episode 13: Tough Questions About Free Speech Amid the Pandemic With Suzanne Nossel
Today, we're launching a new weekly segment called Tough Questions, where we put your questions about free expression and the pandemic to our CEO Suzanne Nossel. Also today, the PEN America Writers' Emergency Fund is here to help. And a book recommendation from one of our listeners.
12:53
April 3, 2020
Episode 12: A World Turned Upside Down With Parnaz Foroutan
In today's episode, Parnaz Foroutan joins to talk about how immigrant voices are especially crucial to hear amid this crisis. We also look at two cases of free speech being curtailed under the cover of the virus, and we do a temperature check for the nation's jails and prisons.
10:51
April 2, 2020
Episode 11: A Seminal Moment for Our Species and Our World: A Conversation With Jamie Metzl
On this edition, futurist and author Jamie Metzl talks about the brave new world that the coronavirus pandemic might precede. Also on this episode, we preview a New York Daily News piece from our colleague Summer Lopez about journalists on the front lines of the crisis. And another listener comment.
12:12
April 1, 2020
Episode 10: Focusing on the Small Things With Fatima Shaik
On this our tenth episode, we catch up with writer Fatima Shaik, who discusses what it was like writing and reporting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and how it might be similar to our current situation. Plus, protest bills working their way through state legislatures, and a message from one of our listeners. 
09:36
March 31, 2020
Episode 9: Reza Aslan on Attacks to Free Expression During the Pandemic
On this episode, writer and TV host Reza Aslan joins to talk about the norm-busting we've seen in recent weeks amid the coronavirus crisis and how he's focusing on work. We also look at proposals for bailing out the local news industry, plus a reading list from alumni of our Emerging Voices fellowship.
12:26
March 30, 2020
BONUS EPISODE: Gregory Pardlo Reads Carrie Fountain's "The Jungle"
In this special bonus episode of the podcast, Pulitzer-winner Gregory Pardlo reads Carrie Fountain's poem "The Jungle."
03:34
March 28, 2020
Episode 8: Poet Gregory Pardlo Gets Reacquainted With Himself
On this episode, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo on getting reacquainted with his favorite books on the craft of writing, and reflecting on his own past. Also, tips on how to stay mentally fit while working from home. And, we want to hear from you. Record a voice message for us! https://anchor.fm/penamerica/message
10:38
March 27, 2020
Episode 7: Mental Health and the Outbreak With Andrew Solomon
As the national debate over balancing the risks of social isolation heats up, author and clinical psychologist Andrew Solomon discusses the consequences for mental health. Then, how student journalists are covering the crisis remotely. And tips on how you can avoid becoming a disinformation disseminator. 
09:27
March 26, 2020
Episode 6: A Legal Victory Against Trump; Remembering Terrence McNally
In this edition, PEN America celebrates a victory against President Trump's efforts to retaliate against the press in our lawsuit. We'll talk what's next. Then, we speak to New York Times theater critic Jesse Green about the life of playwright Terrence McNally.
10:59
March 25, 2020
Episode 5: Disinformation Battle Stations With Jane Lytvynenko
For this episode of The PEN Pod, we talk to BuzzFeed senior reporter Jane Lytvynenko, who covers disinformation and security. She discusses the major disinformation that's currently circulating about the coronavirus, where it might be coming from, and what we can do to stop sharing false stories. Plus, books about coronavirus are flooding Amazon, but are they accurate? And a bookseller reflects on his role in the literary community.
09:35
March 24, 2020
Episode 4: An Exercise in Hopeful Thinking and Magic With Chip Rolley
On this episode for Monday, March 23, we talk to Chip Rolley, senior director of literary programs at PEN America and director of the World Voices Festival. He discusses what festivals mean to readers and writers and what might come next for the book world. We also discuss the financial hardships hitting alt-weeklies, and preview a poetry reading list over at PEN.org.
10:38
March 23, 2020
Episode 3: Social Distancing aka Social Solidarity With Alexander Chee
In this episode for Friday, March 20, a new Pew survey shows that Americans are paying close attention to the coronavirus, but that misinformation is seeping into the dialogue. Then, an interview with award-winning author Alexander Chee for his thoughts on the craft of writing during a period of social distancing. And finally, a poem read by PEN America's own Michelle Franke.
10:26
March 20, 2020
Episode 2: Wash Your Hands, Read a Book, Protect Your Heart With Jennifer Finney Boylan
On this edition for Thursday, March 19, 2020, we explore a good news story out of Cuba where an artist and dissident has been released following dozens of arrests. Then, we turn to Jennifer Finney Boylan, New York Times columnist and author of the forthcoming book Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs. Then, journalists covering the coronavirus outbreak and how they're working together.
09:26
March 19, 2020
Episode 1: We're Here!
It's day one for "The PEN POD." On this first edition of our limited-run podcast: a little bit about why we're doing this; an interview with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, author of the forthcoming book Dare to Speak; and what should be on your bookshelf this week.
10:36
March 18, 2020
Trailer: Starting March 18, "The PEN Pod"
Starting Wednesday, March 18 the literary and free expression group PEN America will bring you "The PEN Pod." With books tours halted and the literary community facing major difficulties, we want to bring daily insights and reader conversations to you. Tune in starting Wednesday, March 18 for our first episode.
00:45
March 15, 2020