Living Writers Show & Other Conversations

I began conducting and then collecting the following radio, online, and print interviews about writing, art and the writing and art life when I accepted the producer/host position in 2005 for WCBN-FM’s Living Writers Show in Ann Arbor, where I’d moved to study for my MFA. I continue to love talking to creative people about their passions and preoccupations. I hope you enjoy!

Live-Broadcast Radio Interviews

The Living Writers Show, WCBN-FM Ann Arbor. Poets & prose writers read from their work and talk about their passions and preoccupations with host-producer, Ashley David. Live broadcasts were engineered by Chaz Berret and aired Wednesdays from 4:30-5:15 p.m. (2005-2007). The roster follows, and recordings of the interviews are provided when available (and as I have time to upload them to the site).

Uwem Akpan—fiction writer and Jesuit priest from Nigeria

Reading from his work and talking about callings, writing Africa, and the role geography plays in the life a child. (aired:  12/6/06)

Uwem Akpan, author of Say You’re One of Them (photo credit: 11/14/08)

Suad Amiry—architect and former Palestinian Minister of Culture

Reading from her memoir, Sharon and My Mother-in-law, and talking about the day-to-day of living in the occupied West Bank. (aired:  12/21/05)

Suad Amiry, author of Sharon and My Mother-in-Law
Suad Amiry, author of Sharon and My Mother-in-Law

Kevin Baker—novelist

Reading from his novel, Strivers Row, the final installment of the “City of Fire” trilogy, and talking about Malcolm X, the Harlem riots of 1943, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Civil War draft riots in New York City and the writing of historical fiction. (aired:  3/8/06)

Neil Bartlett—playwright, director, performer, artist

Reading from Who Was that Man?: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wildeand discussing guidebooks, gay culture, and his life and work as an artist in London. (aired:  9/21/05)

Neil Bartlett, author of Who Was that Man?: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde (photo credit:

Terry Blackhawk—teacher, and founding executive director of InsideOut Detroit

Blackhawk with Lena Cintron & Michelle Obama at the “Coming Up Taller” award ceremony

Reading from Escape Artist and talking about confinement and liberation, neo-formalism, and the writers-in-the-schools program she founded and directs. (aired:  4/12/06)

Lan Samantha Chang—novelist, teacher, and director of The Iowa Writers Workshop

Memory, contemporary myth-making, and “writing what you know.” (aired:  12/14/05, recording coming soon)

Lan Samantha, author of Hunger (photo credit: Prairie Lights Bookstore, 11/10/06)

Billy Collins—former US Poet Laureate

Reading from his 8th book of poems, The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems, and talking about death, dogs, diction and other weighty matters. (aired:  10/19/05)

Peter Ho Davies—novelist

A conversation through Nazi characters, national identity, novel-making, and Tom Jones. (aired:  12/20/06, recording coming soon)

Kwame Dawespoet, playwright, novelist, and director of the Calabash International Literary Festival and the South Carolina Poetry Initiative

The aesthetics of Bob Marley, the power of art, growing up in Ghana and Jamaica and living and writing in South Carolina. (aired:  2/22/06, recording coming soon)

Kwame Dawes (photo credit:

Margaret Lazarus Deannovelist

The hot-off-the-press first novel, The Time it Takes to Fall, a coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986, aliens and alienation, the inner and outer space of US innocence, and disasters of various stripes. (aired:  2/21/07, recording coming soon)

Andrew Delbancosocial critic and Columbia University professor of humanities and American studies

Reading from Melville: His World and Work and talking about the ways in which Melville, who set the standard for the great American novel with Moby Dick, captured the imaginative, social, and political concerns of his day, and why after a century and a half, his work continues to capture ours. (aired:  11/9/05)

Andrew Delbanco, author of Melville: His World and Work
Andrew Delbanco, author of Melville: His World and Work

Nicholas Delbanconovelist, essayist, teacher, and chair of the Hopwood Awards committee

Reading from his most recent novel, The Vagabonds, and talking about crafting a writing life, the responsibility of mentorship, and the Avery Hopwood awards and legacy at the University of Michigan. (aired:  2/8/06)

Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and the Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex

Reading from his work, mapping the great American attention span, tackling mutation, metamorphosis, and conflict, and rounding out the confab with a dash of decayed grandeur. (aired:  11/1/06)

Jeffrey Eugenides (photo credit: Karen Yamauchi)
Jeffrey Eugenides (photo credit: Karen Yamauchi)

Robert Fanningpoet

The Seed Thieves, music, poetry, and death; the writing life, writing art; and the making of a book. (aired:  9/13/06, recording coming soon)

Vievee Francispoet

Blue-Tail Fly, her first book, chosen by Poets & Writers Magazine as one of 12 notable debut books for 2006, and writing personae poems, Callaloo, Cave Canem, and literary legacy at the intersection of empire, the Mason-Dixon, and the Detroit poetry scene. (aired:  1/3/07, recording coming soon)

Jonathan Franzennovelist, essayist, and frequent New Yorker contributor

Reading from his work and talking about taste, complacency, the “so what” question, and birds. (aired:  11/30/05)

Alice Fultonpoet, essayist, and teacher

Reading from her new book of selected poems Cascade Experiment and talking about the processes of circling back, beginning anew, and experimentation. (aired:  1/25/06)

Alice Fulton, author of Cascade Experiment (photo credit: Hank De Leo
Alice Fulton, author of Cascade Experiment (photo credit: Hank De Leo

Mary Gaitskillpoet, essayist, and teacher

Her novel, Veronica, pity, love, and redemption, and the essence of human nature and the places we put it. (aired:  9/27/06, recording coming soon)

Albert Goldbarthpoet (recording no longer available)

Myla Goldbergnovelist

Author of the best-selling Bee Season, her newest novel, Wickett’s Remedy and flu epidemics, differential equations, and megalomaniacal antics in art, lit, and life. (aired:  10/25/06, recording coming soon)

Laurence Goldsteinpoet, scholar, editor, teacher

Reading from his 4th book of poems, A Room in California, and discussing his work as poet, scholar, teacher, and long-time editor of The Michigan Quarterly Review. (aired:  9/21/05) 

Lorna Goodison—internationally recognized Jamaican poet, painter, prose writer, and teacher

Struggle and resistance, patience and fortitude, and writing from and across cultural heritage. (aired:  1/11/06, recording coming soon)

Lorna Goodison (photo credit: Denis Valentine)

Linda Gregerson—poet, scholar and teacher

Her fourth book of poems, Magnetic North, and questions of inequity, locations and occasions of art, and the guiding stars of formal experiment and invention. (aired:  3/7/07, recording coming soon)

Linda Gregerson, author of Magnetic North
Linda Gregerson, author of Magnetic North

Patricia Hampl—poet, non-fiction writer

Reading her poetry and non-fiction and talks about disappearing worlds, the power and weaknesses of first person writing, and the shifting nature of memory. (recorded 9/22/05, aired 10/5/05)

Melanie Lynne Hauser—novelist

Reading from her novel Confessions of Supermom and talking about an incredible Swiffer accident, chick lit, and soccer mom stereotypes. (aired:  9/7/05)

Robert Hershon—poet, editor, and publisher of Hanging Loose Press

Reading from his newest book, Calls from the Outside World, and talking about the absurd, the fabulous, politics, Brooklyn, and Rosemary Clooney, and making poems, among other things… (aired:  4/26/06)

Robert Hershon, Hanging Loose (photo credit: The Brooklyn Rail)
Robert Hershon, Hanging Loose (photo credit: The Brooklyn Rail)

John Hodgman—yes, the very one, which of course, is all.

You may know him as The Resident Expert on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, or as The PC Guy on the Mac commercials… You may even know him as the nicest guy you ever shared a cab with to leave a Paris Review party… But around The Living Writers Show, we know him as The Professional Writer who wrote The Areas of My Expertise. He reads from said book on today’s show and discusses hell, fire & damnation; children’s games; and Latin American authors of renown in some circles..and even the decline and fall of civilizations, Rome in the 4th century, and the future of cyborgs on earth. (aired:  10/4/06)

Holly Hughes—performance artist, playwright, and teacher

Reading her work and talking about complacency, controversy, and oh yes, decency, action, art, and the NEA 4. (aired:  3/15/06)

Holly Hughes (photo credit: Kelly Campbell)

Roy Jacobstein—poet, physician, and international development consultant

Reading poems from Ripe and talking about political poetry, writing from outside academia, and wearing multiple hats. (aired:  10/26/05)

Linton Kwesi Johnson—poet, international reggae star, political activist, and Black Panther leader in Britain

His work, civil rights struggles on both sides of the Atlantic, and the relationships between dub poetry, reggae, R&B, and rap. (aired:  3/22/06)

Linton Kwesi Johnson with Ashley David at the WCBN studio

Heidi Julavits—writer and founding editor of The Believer

Her new novel The Uses of Enchantment and victims, predators, adolescent girls, sexuality, and the construction of the self. See also Dora, Freud, the 80s, motherhood, the coast of Maine, crayons, bad coffee, and the making of a magazine. (aired:  11/15/06, recording coming soon)

Ted Libbey—one of the U.S.’s most highly regarded music critics and commentators as well as the Director of Media Arts Programs for the NEA

Reading from his classical music encyclopedia, NPR Guide to Building a Classical Music Library and discussing the nature of including everything (and leaving some things out). (aired:  5/23/06)

John McCain—US senator, 2-time presidential candidate,Vietnam POW, and best selling author

Reading from Character is Destiny, and talking about character, inspiration, responsibility, and torture. (aired:  12/7/05)

Raymond McDaniel—poet

Reading from his forthcoming second book of poems, Saltwater Empire, and talks about Dixie-fried poetry, predicting the future, and redemption. (aired:  11/2/05)

Raymond McDaniel, author of Saltwater Empire (photo credit: The Poetry Foundation)
Raymond McDaniel, author of Saltwater Empire (photo credit: The Poetry Foundation)

Ken Mikolowski—poet (recording coming soon)

Sean Norton—poet

Reading from his first book of poems, Bad with Faces and talking about journey, renunciation, and style. (aired:  10/12/05)

Patrick O’Keeffenovelist

reads from his collection of linked novellas, The Hill Road, and, in his first interview about this debut collection, talks about Ireland, change, loss, and finding his subject. (aired: 9/14/05, recording coming soon)

Julie Orringer—novelist

Widely celebrated for her fiction and recently transplanted to Ann Arbor—reading from her work and exploring literal and metaphorical jet lag, the lit-life versus the writing-life, and the drive to create worlds that others may inhabit. (aired:  1/17/07, recording coming soon)

Eileen Pollack—novelist, creative non-fiction writer, journalist, and teacher

Reading from the forthcoming collection of stories, In the Mouth and talking about truth and lies, literary vogue, and the business of writing (and learning to write). (aired:  11/23/05)

Eileen Pollack, author of In the Mouth (photo credit: U-M Dept of English)
Eileen Pollack, author of In the Mouth (photo credit: U-M Dept of English)

Richard Rhodes—Pulitzer prize-winning author

Reading from his most recent book, John James Audubon: The Making of an American and talking about birds, conservation, expansion, the making of a country, and nuclear disarmament. (aired:  5/3/06)

Jim Shepard—novelist, teacher, and “patron saint of the mal-adapted”

Reading from his novel Project X and talking about adolescent boys, growing up, and being a writer-parent. (aired:  12/08/06)

Jim Shepard, author of Project X (photo credit: Barry Goldstein)
Jim Shepard, author of Project X (photo credit: Barry Goldstein)

Samuel Shimon—writer and co-founder of Banipal, the magazine of Modern Arab Literature

His autobiographical novel An Iraqi in Paris, life as a homeless intellectual on the streets of Paris, Hollywood movies vs. the French New Wave, and how Iraq is “like a dish of Spanish paella.” (aired:  11/29/06, recording coming soon)

Keith Taylor—poet, prose writer, critic, and teacher

Reading from Guilty at the Rapture, just out from Hanging Loose Press, and talking about the poetry bug, poetry worlds, genre bending, and the call of the whooping crane. (aired:  4/5/06)

Keith Taylor, author of Guilty at the Rapture
Keith Taylor, author of Guilty at the Rapture

Richard Tillinghast—poet, critic, teacher, performer, and “Leonard Wiggins” in a James Atlas novel

Reading from his work, and covering the usual bases: Southerners to Puritans, social movements to poetry. (aired:  11/16/06)

Ari Weinzweig—food & business writer and founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses

Reading from his Guide to Good Eating and talking about globalization, consumption, community…and of course, American food. (aired:  3/29/06)

Ari Weinzweig, founder of Zingerman's Family of Businesses and author of the Guide to Good Eating
Ari Weinzweig, founder of Zingerman’s Family of Businesses and author of the Guide to Good Eating

Colson Whitehead—MacArthur Fellowship and Whiting Award recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist

His newest book, Apex Hides the Hurt, and snakes, beetles, co-conspirators, and the color line. (aired:  4/19/06, recording coming soon)

David Wojahn—poet

His work, regionalism and the location of literary heart, the difference between Junior Parker and Elvis, and the implications of gussying up the plain and painful. (aired:  2/7/07, recording coming soon)

P.S. The show is still alive and well and currently hosted by T Hetzel. You can listen live on WCBN-FM or subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes.

Online Text-based Interviews

  • In February 2012, I was profiled for The University of Georgia’s “Amazing Students” column on UGA.EDU. Check it out here.

    Sean Hill, author of Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (photo credit: Minnesota Prairie Roots)
    Sean Hill, author of Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (photo credit: Minnesota Prairie Roots)
  • Sean Hill, poet and author of Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, and I chatted by email in the early months of 2011 about his work plus origins, wanderings, reconciliation, and the evolution of a student-run multicultural journal—in the Reconciliation issue of Mandala Journal. (no longer available)
  • José Romelo Lagman, photographer, and I chatted by email in April 2010 about rooted cosmopolitanism for Mandala Journal Blog. Check it out here. And, while you’re at it, check out his photo-essay, “Rooted Cosmopolitanism.” (no longer available)