The Artist's Statement
By Davin Malasarn
How do authors create their masterpieces? What inspires their stories? Join Davin Malasarn, co-founder of the Granum Foundation, as he interviews writers about craft and the writing life.
Nicole Sealey: So Much To See
Season 2, Episode 3 brings you poet and inaugural Granum Foundation Prize winner, Nicole Sealey. We begin the discussion with Sealey's earlier works, The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017). Sealey recounts her editorial decisions in her first publications, and how they sparked ideas for new work. We also explore her sources of inspiration, including a conversation with her mother, and the role of form in propelling her creations. In the second half of the episode, we discuss her award winning project, "The Ferguson Report: An Erasure," which she describes as "a lyric lamentation on police brutality." The book adapts the pages of the Department of Justice’s 2015 report, which details bias policing and court practices in Ferguson, Missouri, to create an evocative poem that strives to bring to life the stories of those who have suffered from them. She reads "Candelabra with Heads," "In Defense of Candelabra with Heads," "The First Person Who Will Live to Be One Hundred and Fifty Years Old Has Already Been Born," and "Object Permanence." Sealey also provides a preview from "The Ferguson Report: An Erasure."
June 22, 2022
Julie Otsuka: Swimming Through Memories
Season 2, Episode 2 features Julie Otsuka, best-selling author of When the Emperor Was Divine, The Buddha in the Attic, and her latest novel, The Swimmers. We discuss the inspiration and evolution of The Swimmers, and some of the technical challenges associated with Otsuka's frequent use of the first person plural point of view. She discusses how she became a writer and her work routines, including how they have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also explore how Otsuka relies on intuition and intellect to create her work. In this interview, Otsuka reads excerpts from The Swimmers, including the opening pages and a selection from her chapter entitled "Belavista." Host: Davin Malasarn. Music by Joe Rivers. Artwork by Ayumi Takahashi. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation. Visit us at granumfoundation.org.
April 20, 2022
Ben Ehrenreich: The Shape of Time
Season 2 of The Artist's Statement opens with journalist, essayist, and novelist, Ben Ehrenreich, winner of a 2021 American Book Award for his non-fiction work Desert Notebooks: A Roadmap for the End of Time. Ehrenreich discusses the inspiration for this poignant book that followed his time in Palestine and his return to American society under the presidency of Donald Trump. Beginning in the awe-inspiring landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park and moving to the alternative desert of Las Vegas, Ehrenreich reflects on our perceptions of time in the face of change and trauma. He draws on the ancient texts of Mayan, Greek, and Roman civilizations to argue against the myth of inevitable progress. Ehrenreich also talks about his own writing career and his hopes for the future. In this interview, Ehrenreich reads an excerpt from Desert Notebooks. Host: Davin Malasarn. Music by Joe Rivers. Artwork by Ayumi Takahashi. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation. Visit us at granumfoundation.org.
February 23, 2022
Claire Vaye Watkins: Novel Forms
In Episode 10 of The Artist's Statement, we chat with Claire Vaye Watkins, author of three works of fiction, including her latest novel, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (Riverhead, 2021). Watkins discusses the blurred boundaries between fiction and fact in her new work, and the story threads she brought together to complete it. We explore the impact of her viral essay "On Pandering" and her evolving relationship with writing, and how the influence of classical works can both help and hinder creativity. Watkins shares how she came to work with her agent, Nicole Aragi. She also offers her insights for students as they complete their first major projects. In this interview, Watkins reads excerpts from I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. Host: Davin Malasarn The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation.
December 01, 2021
Marytza Rubio: Mystic Landscapes
Episode 9 of The Artist's Statement features Marytza K. Rubio, author of Maria, Maria, and Other Stories (Liveright/W. W. Norton, 2022). Rubio discusses the inspiration and evolution of her debut collection, and how she shared her vision with her agent and editor. We chat about the occult, the significance and power behind the name "Maria," and the details behind the mystic setting of her centerpiece novella. In the interview, we also talk about the considerations behind Rubio's multilingual writing, her role as the founder of the Makara Center for the Arts, and the impact of her changing life experiences on the revision process. Rubio reads an excerpt from Maria, Maria. Host: Davin Malasarn The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation.
October 06, 2021
Michael Emmerich: Writing Across Languages
What happens during the translation process of a literary work from Japanese to English? In Episode 8 of The Artist's Statement, we speak with Michael Emmerich, author of more than a dozen literary works in translation, including those by authors such as Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata, Banana Yoshimoto, Genichiro Takahashi, and Hiromi Kawakami. Emmerich discusses the role of Japanese literature in American culture, his translation process, and some considerations for authors who will have their work translated. He also details specific examples from Takahashi's novel, Sayonara, Gangsters, and Kawakami's novel, Manazuru. The author of The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature, Emmerich shares his views of the impact of the classic Genji monogatari on the world, and the role of translation and replacement in the work's popularity. Host: Davin Malasarn The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation.
September 08, 2021
Donika Kelly: Finding Center
In Episode 7 of The Artist's Statement, we're joined by Donika Kelly, poet and author of The Renunciations (2021) and Bestiary (2016), both published by Graywolf Press. Kelly discusses the The Renunciations and the journey of self-exploration and therapy that led to its creation. She talks about the importance of having and nurturing a speaker and a safe space from which to create, along with the value of being protective of information, both for the writer and the reader. The conversation delves into the distinction between reality and artifice in artmaking, and how one can cultivate silence to help the creative process. Kelly reads her poems "Sanctuary," "The Oracle Remembers the Future Cannot Be Avoided," and "The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings." Host: Davin Malasarn. Visit us at granumfoundation.org.
August 04, 2021
BONUS: Jenny Boully and Sak Yant
In this bonus episode of The Artist’s Statement, we speak to Jenny Boully about the ancient art of Sak Yant and the role of the Thai language and Buddhism in her writing life. Boully reads her essay “On the Eve of My Eternal Marking,” which first appeared in The Paris Review on July 10, 2019. Host: Davin Malasarn The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation. Learn more at granumfoundation.org.
July 15, 2021
Jenny Boully: Imagination and Its Consequences
Jenny Boully, 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and author of Betwixt and Between: Essays on the Writing Life, The Book of Beginnings and Endings, The Body, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, and other works joins us from Bennington, Vermont, for Episode 6 of The Artist's Statement Podcast. Boully discusses the origins of her recent books and how her work bridges genres. "I think when the mind is at odds with itself or wrestling with itself, which is what essays do, I find that if I can switch my approach, or switch my voice, or put on a different hat at times, then I can better get at something," says Boully. She chats about astronomy as a source of inspiration and how her childhood experiences, and the stories of Peter Pan and Wendy Darling, led to her becoming a writer. She also reflects on how her writing has evolved from abstract to more accessible as a result of her growing older. Boully reads her essay "On the Voyager Golden Records" from Betwixt and Between. Host: Davin Malasarn. Visit us at granumfoundation.org.
July 07, 2021
Nikki Giovanni: Speaking of Water
The Artist's Statement Episode 5 features legendary poet Nikki Giovanni. She discusses the importance of spirituals as inspiration for her work and how artist's from poets to novelists to dancers inhabit truth. Giovanni recounts her early days as an activist and writer along her path to success, including her time at Fisk University. The conversation touches on space travel, her experiences as an interviewer with the television series "Soul!", the Black Lives Matter movement, children's literature, and the importance of water. Giovanni reads poems "Baby West," "Atrocities, and "Make Me Rain." Hosted by Davin Malasarn. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation. Visit us for more information and to learn about The Granum Foundation Fellowship Prize.
June 07, 2021
Craig Cotter: Memories, Inventions
Craig Cotter, the author of four collections of poetry, including After Lunch with Frank O’Hara, joins us from Pasadena, CA for Episode 4 of The Artist's Statement. He talks about his early writing career as a student at Michigan State University and the poetry editor of Red Cedar Review. He discusses his poems “The Drayton Plains Nature Center” and “For Alex,” which include a major recurring character in his work. He also reads “You Ever,” “People,” “Alex and Me at the Beach as Teenagers,” and “Ayaz Marhoni & Mahmoud Asgiri.” Other topics explored in this episode include the mistreatment and execution of gays in the 1970s versus now, the importance of humor in art, and the reliability of memory. Hosted by Davin Malasarn. Music by Michael Markowski and Irma Seleman. Artwork by Ayumi Takahashi. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by the Granum Foundation. Visit us for more information.
May 03, 2021
Kuzhali Manickavel: Writing English in India
In this episode of The Artist's Statement, we feature short fiction writer Kuzhali Manickavel, whose work has been described as surreal, sci-fi, absurdist, and weird. Manickavel, who calls in from Bangalore, India, discusses how she characterizes her own work and how international perspectives can lead to alternative definitions. We examine her stories, "The Decline and Fall of Western Dance in a South Indian Women's College" from her collection Things We Found During the Autopsy, "Item Girls," and her chapbook The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters Guide to Starving Boys: Their Salient Features, How to Find Them, How to Care for Them after They Die, and Four Considerations. Manickavel also explores how her experiences as an outsider inspire her work, and the influence of English writing in India. Hosted by Davin Malasarn. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by The Granum Foundation. Visit us at granumfoundation.org to learn more.
April 02, 2021
BONUS: Kathy Fish reads "Tenderoni"
Kathy Fish reads her flash fiction story, "Tenderoni." (Contains explicit language.)
March 07, 2021
Kathy Fish: Beauty in Brevity
Kathy Fish joins us for this episode of The Artist's Statement focused on flash fiction, defined as stories under 1,000 words. She discusses the genre, its origins, and how it can be distinguished from short stories and prose poetry. She also elaborates on techniques she uses to create her flash pieces, including juxtaposition, contradiction, and repetition, and how she finds titles for her work. Fish’s most recent collection is Wild Life: Collected Works 2003-2018, now in its 2nd print run with Matter Press. She reads and discusses “Foreign Film,” “Today When I Asked You About a Couple We Knew in Canberra,” “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” inspired by the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, and “Unfettered and Alive.” Hosted by Davin Malasarn. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by the Granum Foundation. Visit us for more information.
March 01, 2021
Colm Toibin: Rhythm and Life
Irish author Colm Toibin joins us for the inaugural episode of The Artist's Statement. He discusses his early writing career and his evolution from poet to journalist to novelist, and his return to poetry. We examine Toibin's novella, A Long Winter, and short story "One Minus One" from his collection, The Empty Family. He reads from his latest novel, The Magician, which tells the story of writer Thomas Mann and is scheduled for publication by Viking Press in September, 2021. Toibin describes the importance of finding rhythm in sentences and how intuition and intellect work together to develop his narratives. He also discusses balancing plot and details that help to enhance the world of his stories. Hosted by Davin Malasarn. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by the Granum Foundation. Visit us for more information.
February 01, 2021
Welcome to the Artist's Statement
Writing is a balance of forces, the pull of intellect versus emotion, technique versus intuition. I’m Davin Malasarn. In the Artist’s Statement, we talk to writers about how they navigate those dynamics to create their work. What happens between that initial inspiration and the final, published piece? And, how do you find that spark in the first place? Join me as we talk with some of today’s most exciting writers. We’ll look across genres, identities, and cultures in search of those common threads at the heart of creativity, as well as what makes every artist unique. The Artist's Statement is brought to you by the Granum Foundation. Visit us at www.granumfoundation.org.
January 30, 2021