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Shankar NarayanJack Straw Writer Shankar Narayan’s manuscript “Circuit Breaker” grapples with the impact of technology on society and the body. In his conversation with 2019 Writers Program curator Kathleen Flenniken, they explore themes of bias in technology, how his writing is influenced by with his work as a lawyer for the ACLU, and the intersection of artificial intelligence and humanity. “Every technology is a set of assumptions of the builders, right? And there are always winners and losers when a given technology is rolled out into the world . . . a lot of what I’m doing is surfacing assumptions about who’s impacted and who’s not impacted and making these connections among the rollouts of technology.”

Shankar explores identity, power, mythology, and technology in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. Shankar is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the 2017 Flyway Sweet Corn Poetry Prize, and has been a fellow at Kundiman, Hugo House, and now Jack Straw. He is a 4Culture grant recipient for Claiming Space, a project to lift the voices of writers of color, and his chapbook, Postcards from the New World, won the Paper Nautilus Debut Series chapbook prize. Shankar draws strength from his global upbringing and from his work as a civil rights attorney for the ACLU. In Seattle, he awakens to the wonders of Cascadia every day, but his heart yearns east to his other hometown, Delhi.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Dianne Aprile2019 Jack Straw writer Dianne Aprile spoke with curator Kathleen Flenniken about her memoir-in-progress on the story of her aunt’s long-held secret of rape and subsequent lobotomy. They discuss how Aprile’s background as a journalist helped her to uncover the truth of the story, the evolution of mental health, and where her aunt’s story fits into the #MeToo movement. “It began to make more sense to me, too, why she never wanted to tell and why nobody wanted to talk about it. It seemed just to be a part of what the society demanded at that time—There was no other way for her to deal with it.”

Dianne is the author and editor of nonfiction books, including three book collaborations with visual artists and three gallery collaborations. She teaches Creative Nonfiction on the MFA faculty at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Her current project is a family memoir, from which two excerpts have been nominated for Pushcart prizes. She can be heard reading her essay “Silence” at NPR’s This I Believe website, and she has an essay in the Boom Project Anthology (Summer 2019). Her poems have appeared in journals, most recently The Raven Chronicles. Aprile received fellowships from Kentucky Arts Council and Artist Trust; grants from Kentucky Foundation for Women; a Hedgebrook Women Writers Residency and, as a journalist, she was part of a team at the Louisville Courier Journal that won a staff Pulitzer Prize.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by The Bird Tribe Orchestra, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Rachel TrignanoRachel Trignano’s project for the 2018 Jack Straw Writers Program is a collection of essays called Home[sic] that deals with family, memory, and the changing of truth over time. In her conversation with curator Daemond Arrindell, they discuss the intersections of storytelling, intimacy, and perspective. “You can have an intimacy and familiarity with your family and know them your entire life—I liken it [to] having your favorite mailman or something. . . . I’ve known you since I was x years old, I see you all the time, I enjoy you . . . I have no idea who you are.”

Rachel’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been featured in NPR affiliate WABE’s Storytellers and City Lights series, poet Saul Williams’s Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, and the City of Atlanta’s Elevate public art program. Since 2010, Rachel has been performing her work in Atlanta and Denver, and is published in the Loose Change Literary Magazine anthology The Best of Loose Change, Write Club Atlanta’s Tender Bloodsport Vol. 1, and numerous other print and digital publications, including What the Hell Have I Done?, her travelogue about driving aimlessly around the United States. She produces and occasionally performs in Write Club Denver, a competitive literary series that raises money for charity. Through her work, Rachel tries to use truth and humor to relate to the reader about the joy and horror living human life can bring.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Daniel AtkinsonJack Straw Writer Daniel Atkinson’s contribution to the 2018 Jack Straw Writers Anthology, “To Know Your People Is to Know Yourself,” deals with the complicated interracial history of his Southern family. He spoke with curator Daemond Arrindell about George Walker, a founding father of the Harlem Renaissance; being “hired to ‘be diversity’ as opposed to ‘do diversity'”; and the Black history that goes beyond the month of February. “People, when they read what I write, they always say it’s got this anger to it . . . but . . . I am the Credible Hulk.  I have matched my vocabulary with my rage. . . . Though it’s discomforting for you, that doesn’t make it wrong.”

Daniel received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2011. His research focus is on Afro-American vernacular expression and its interaction with the global landscape. His dissertation research was conducted at the former slave plantation turned world’s largest prison, Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana. The research was designed to serve as a platform to discuss issues of economic disparity and institutional racism as products of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution as well as to preserve some of the remaining a cappella gospel tradition at the prison. That research is now featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American history and Culture. He is currently working on the first historical biography of Vaudevillian and founding father of the Harlem Renaissance, George W. “Nash” Walker (1872-1911).

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Sarah Maria MedinaSarah María Medina’s contribution to the 2018 Jack Straw Writers Anthology is a collection of poems from her poetry manuscript Oshun’s Daughter. In her conversation with curator Daemond Arrindell, they discuss the decolonization of art and its form, responding to music, and spontaneity on the page. “I’m not knocking the sonnet, but for me I feel like it’s a bit constricting,” she says. “I end up feeling like I can’t breathe by the end of it. So, I like to think about . . . my brother . . . he’s really into rumba, that is a more open-ended form where you can have the beat change and break and you can go in to bembé. . . . And I like to think about how we can do that on the page.”

Sarah María is a poet and a fiction/creative non-fiction writer from the American Northwest. Her writing has been published in Black Warrior Review, Prelude, Poetry NW, Raspa Literary Journal, and elsewhere. Her work appears in two anthologies: Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018), and Bettering American Poetry Vol. 2. She is an ARTIST UP Grant LAB recipient, a Caldera artist in residence, a Hugo House teaching artist, and the poetry editor at Winter Tangerine.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Jalayna CarterJalayna Carter’s poems in the 2018 Jack Straw Writer’s Anthology are both a “report on human behavior” and a “love story to how humans cope.” In her conversation with Daemond Arrindell, they discuss being Southern, legacies, and exploring fear. “It’s great to be someone who people can look up to and say, ‘Oh, that person can handle it. That person is strong. That person is everything that I want to be.’ But it, ultimately, is a disservice to ourselves. I see people who are not able to admit that they are afraid and how that . . . tears apart their lives. I would love for people, black people and people of color who read this book, to know that it’s OK to be afraid.”

Jalaynais a storyteller with pieces published in a handful of journals including Puerto Del Sol, Third Point Press, and Reality Beach, as well as an anthology by 2Leaf Press: Black Lives Have Always Mattered. Originally from St. Louis, MO, she studied literature and journalism in the Midwest before pursuing nonprofit communications. Her work primarily focuses on fear, the taboo, and dysfunction, particularly within the body and as a learned behavior.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Danielle Bero2018 Jack Straw writer Danielle Bero is working on a chapbook of poetry about her relationship to her body and queer identity. She and curator Daemond Arrindell talk about finding passion and connection with an audience, the rhythm of her writing, and working in schools. “Even my own students, you know, I want to get them excited. In a land of Twitter age, where it’s like, ‘I got a hundred and forty characters to make me kind of shine,’ I want them to start thinking about language that pops, thinking about wordplay, thinking about how things play off of each other, and how language can be really like . . . how everything is poetry.”

Danielle was born in Queens to hippie parents, given a dose of Shel Silverstein, Tupac, Jazz and classic rock. She was the recipient of a Posse Scholarship, and nominated for the Daily News Unsung Hero in Education. Danielle taught in Indonesia on a Fulbright scholarship, the Bronx through Teach for America and co-founded a school for students in foster care. She received a master’s in English Education, Educational Leadership and completed her MFA at the University of San Francisco. She’s won slam competitions at Nuyorican’s Poets Café, Bowery Poetry Club and Ubud Writer’s festival. She’s published in New American Writing, Sinister Wisdom, Lavender Review, Quiet Lightning, and Juked.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Dujie TahatDujie Tahat’s project as a 2018 Jack Straw Writer’s is a chapbook length manuscript about grief in relationships and the political sphere. In his conversation with curator Daemond Arrindell, they discuss what grief teaches, the grief within immigrant experience, and fatherhood. “I think the relationship between turning and facing yourself—I think that’s what teaches you empathy. I don’t think you need empathy to do that. The core thing is being able to look at yourself.”

Dujieis a writer and political hack from Washington State. His essays on poetry and politics have been published in the Seattle Review of Books and Civic Skunk Works. Dujie serves as a contributing poetry editor for Pacific Northwest literary magazine Moss. He’s been a Seattle Poetry Slam finalist, a collegiate grand slam champion, and a Youth Speaks grand slam champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices. You can find him @dujietahat on all social media.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Natasha Kochicheril MoniJack Straw writer Natasha Kochicheril Moni spoke with curator Daemond Arrindell about her collection of poetry and creative non-fiction, As a Dark Bird in a Light Egg. Their conversation covers the duality of being biracial, the idea of home, and her experiences as a naturopathic doctor. “It’s this feeling of belonging: How do I belong inside myself? And then how, depending on what your belief system is, how do we belong to one another—whether it’s a country or whether it’s just us, humanity.”

Natasha, a first-generation American of Dutch and Indian heritage, is a licensed naturopathic doctor in WA State. Her publication credits include sixty journals such as Magma, Entropy, and The Rumpus; one full-length poetry collection (The Cardiologist’s Daughter, Two Sylvias Press, 2014); and two poetry chapbooks (Lay Down Your Fleece, Shirt Pocket Press, 2017, and Nearly, Dancing Girl Press, 2018).

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Juan Carlos ReyesJuan Carlos Reyes’s project for the 2018 Jack Straw Writers Program is a collection of stories that investigates father-son relationships. In his conversation with curator Daemond Arrindell he discusses cultural norms, contradictions, and the celebrations of group and individual identity. “Every story, eventually, is about that little place and about our moving away from that place, but always having to return to it to negotiate.”

Juanwas born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He’s the product of a math degree, though only words hold his attention anymore. His book A Summer’s Lynching won the Quarterly West 2016 novella prize. His chapbook Elements of a Bystander won the 2016 Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming with Arcadia Press. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Ascentos Review, KGB Lit, and Hawai’i Review, among others. He is an Assistant Professor of creative writing at Seattle University.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org.

Music by Amy Rubin and Dawn Clement, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

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