Our New Favorite Podcast

Hello, friends! We wanted to introduce you all to our new favorite podcast: Storytellers Telling Stories. This lovely little production is a literary “radio theater” podcast created by Jude Brewer. It features a different storyteller every week (many of whom we have a serious literary crush on) narrating their literary work for listeners’ pleasure.

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Storytellers Telling Stories launched in October 2017 and since then, over 21 episodes have been published! Included in Season One are two episodes by Blue Cactus Press authors: Christina Butcher (yes, that’s me!) and Sam Snoek-Brown (yes, he’s amazing!). But, we’re not writing this blog post to toot our own horns; we’re writing it to introduce you to the magical literary experience Jude creates in this podcast. We’re also hoping to convince you to listen and subscribe 🙂

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In addition to clean audio and riveting stories, each episode of Storytellers Telling Stories includes sound effects and music. Now, if you’ve ever worked on a podcast you know how much work can go into just a few minutes of finished audio – so trust us when we tell you Jude has spent copious amounts of time and energy on each episode!

Did we mention that Jude also enlists the help of local artists to create artwork for every episode? Yeah, he really does. Each collaboration results in a lovely, meaningful piece of art directly connected to the episode’s content. It’s the perfect marriage of visual arts and literature.

Some of our favorites episodic masterpieces are:

Episode 3 – Itzá – by Rios de la Luz

Episode 8 – Heller – by Domi Shoemaker

Episode 18 – Barefoot in the Guadalupe – by Samuel Snoek-Brown
(we can’t help it, it’s just good writing …)

The next time you’re stuck in the car during rush hour, getting ready for a long walk through the neighborhood or looking for a good story on a rainy day, plug your headphones in and download an episode of Storytellers Telling Stories. It’s literary magic, friends.

Local Book Review: Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts

Earlier this afternoon I had a wonderful conversation about the synthesis of science, art and literature with a quirky entrepreneur (thank you, Spaceworks Tacoma and Creative Colloquy for landing me in that exquisite moment).

Before the conversation was over, my brain started buzzing and whirring as I thought about some of my favorite, recent collaborations across media. Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, a collection of poetry by Maya Jewell Zeller and visual arts by Carrie DeBacker, was the very first that came to mind.

I picked up Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts (which is a little beauty of a book) at the Cascadia Poetry Festival’s small press fair back in October, as I ambled from one publisher booth to the next. Eventually, I found my way to Entre Rios Books, where collaboration and multimedia are an integral part of the publishing company’s ethos.

I thumbed my way through of the books on the table before gravitating towards Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, and I was immediately struck by not only the playfulness of the content on the page, but the seeming innocence and whimsy of the visual art and poetry inside. I fell in love so, so quickly.little-spell-with-a-ship-on-its-backOver the next few weeks, I read and reread the poems in Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, marveling that Jewell Zeller was able to deliver earthy, intricate imagery and allude to gut-wrenching topics, all-the-while managing to keep the tone of the book light and hopeful.

The poems felt fresh and they left me full of wonder after each read: wonder at the author’s use of language rooted in biology, the natural world, science and medicine; and wonder at the illustrator’s ability to capture that same tone before instilling it with her own, quirky flavor. Much of the beauty of this book is in the synthesis of the soft edges of the art and the sharp language of the poems.little-spell-with-chest-xrayI also loved that the meat and the potatoes of the book, the poetry itself, is heartfelt and well-written. As a reader, each poem kept me on my toes with varied structure and placement on the page, use of repeated themes to evoke very different emotions in each poem, and subjects that virtually anyone can empathize with.

Overall, I’m thoroughly impressed with Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts and I can’t wait to go down a literary rabbit hole of the author’s, illustrator’s and publisher’s other works. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the beauty of collaboration and/or the literary arts. It’s a feast for the eyes.

 

Listen to the Poem!

Yes, I did get that from Write253’s Louder Than A Bomb Tacoma poetry slam, but listening to poetry and truly hearing the messages authors are conveying is more important than ever as our country continues to divide itself along political and racial lines. Despite our national division, I see poets, authors, musicians and artists trying to sew the gap back up with art. And I can honestly say I’m continually impressed  not only the quality of their creative work, but with the strength of their messages, as well.

The impact of Tacoma’s local artistry hit me the hardest this afternoon at a post-workshop open mic hosted by Write253. The workshops and open mic were a part of the Cascadia Poetry Festival, which is happening all weekend (and includes a small press fair that yours truly will be peddling my wares at on Saturday afternoon).

Write253’s open mic was filled with young writers and musicians, all of whom blew me away with their performances. Students spoke with honesty and grit about alcoholism, violence, identity and race, community, friendship and politics, and they did so with a sense of abandon that I think many adults (myself included) struggle to achieve.

It was inspiring. They were inspiring. So I sat down to create something of my own, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I went home and recorded a few poems as spoken word to share with you in the same way the young poets I heard this afternoon shared with me.

This fall and winter, I hope to record more poetry, to write new poems, and to share as much of it with you as I can. If I can swing it, I’ll record stories and poems by other local authors, as well. Listen in and let me know what you think.

More importantly, sit down and write. and share. and do it again and again and again.