Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Episode 21: Monica Macansantos

This episode takes us to Baguio, Philippines, where I talk to fiction writer and poet, Monica Macansantos.  We talk about her writing process, her travels, her education, influences, and publishing process as we catch her at the brink of getting her novel published. Please keep an eye out on this fabulous Filipina writer!  

Monica in Tayo Magazine

Monica Macansantos was a James A. Michener Fellow in Writing at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her MFA in Fiction and Poetry. She also holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the Victoria University of Wellington, International Institute of Modern Letters. Her fiction has appeared in failbetter.comWomen's Studies QuarterlyThe Masters Review Anthology, Day One, and TAYO Literary Magazineamong other places, while her nonfiction and journalism have appeared in AotearoticaTakaheNew NaratifSBS Lifeand VICE, among other places. Her essay,"Becoming A Writer: The Silences We Write Against", was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016. Her novella, "Leaving Auckland" (serialized in three parts on failbetter​), was a Top 25 Finalist in the Summer 2016 Glimmer Train Fiction Open, while her story, "Stopover", earned an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2013 Glimmer Train Fiction Open. She has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook (2014) and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (2012 & 2019). She is currently Branches Nonfiction Editor of Rambutan Literary ​and is also working on her first novel. She is represented by Kerry D'Agostino of Curtis Brown, Ltd. in New York City. 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Episode 20: Gregory Byrd

Dr. Gregory Byrd is a poet, novelist and Professor at Florida's St. Petersburg College.  We discuss his new poetry collection, his completion of his first novel, his growing up in Florida in a working class family, and how it shaped his aesthetics.  

Greg Byrd's poetry collection book cover

This is the Name for the God who Speaks

Father, you would know these primal prayers,
light flashing in the west behind live oaks,
a sky-slashed language dead after Conquest.
From that living world, we share only lightning,
an old god speaking light out of darkness,
a chant of rain as alphabet where water flowing
is a word.
I found picture of us twenty-five years ago,
after your divorce. We stood in front of the old
Florida Keys house where I grew up.
You poured concrete there
to appease those Calusa gods,
then steered your small boat into their vast ocean
where you taught me words
that cannot be spoken for greenrayed depths,
the language of whale sharks surfacing,
fishblood across decks and on hands.
Loneliness of the Gulf Stream moves,
over the horizon lightning chants,
dark, by the time you hear its name.

Gregory Byrd’s poems have appeared widely in journals such as the Tampa Review, Apalachee Review, Cortland Review, Milosao (Albania, in translation), Poeteka (Albania, in translation), and many others.  Among his poetry books are Salt and Iron (Snake Nation, 2014), At Penuel (Split Oak, 2011) and Florida Straits (Yellowjacket Press, 2005), which won the first Yellow Jacket Press Chapbook Contest for Florida Poets.  He has received a Creative Pinellas Rapid Returns Fellowship (2016), Fulbright Fellowship to Albania (2011), an SPC Distinguished Teaching Award (2015) and a Pushcart Prize Nomination (1988).  Greg has a B.A. from Eckerd College, M.A. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Greg’s scholarly and artistic interests are influenced by the culture and landscape of Florida as well as by his studies in poetry.  Tampa poet Silvia Curbelo writes that Greg’s poems “embody the restless energy of the Florida landscape, a place of stories fathers tell over beers and heroes facing unordinary times.”  In his poems, you’re likely to come across references to Puccini, Beethoven, Faust, or Genesis in one line and then to images of Everglades muck, rusted shotguns or dead tarpon in the next.

He has recently finished a novel about an American pilot flying for the British during World War I, Where Shadow Meets Water.  When not working on his writing, Greg fishes the flats near Clearwater, sails, rides his bicycle and works on his 1966 Ford pickup. He is founder and advisor of the Student Veterans Association at St. Petersburg College.

Grant blog for Creative Pinellas:  http://www.rapidreturns.org/gregory-byrd

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Episode 19: Casey Clague

Casey Clague is my first featured poet who is local to me here in the Tampa Bay area.  They just completed their MFA in Creative Writing from University of South Florida. Listen to them read a couple of poems and learn more about their future goals and their interest in literary criticism and what they do for the local literary/art community in Tampa.

profile picture of Casey Clauge

Casey Clague holds an MFA from the University of South Florida. They live in Tampa where they cofounded the Read Herring reading series and serve as Assistant Poetry Editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection. Critical and creative work appears or is forthcoming in Action, SpectaclePermafrostGravel; New Writing; and elsewhere. 

Darling, according to physics,
with the air    pulled out

from around
                        our atoms
and the atoms compressed,

we could fit in a sugar cube.
Humanity, I mean.

The skin-bound        
                             divisions of us.
Finally, the closeness

we sought
                    when we pricked  
our fingers     to make blood
brothers and sisters.           
What we came close to in sex

but even then           
                           were separated
by a silk-thin veil of sweat.

Before entropy sends its tendrils
through          our blank spaces,

crushes down our bodies
in city buses and offices,

let’s draw out            the dead air.  
Forget it like a hymn.
                                     Don’t say:

In that viewless room
we would all just face

the center. What would we do
                        with ourselves?

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Episode 18: Kai Coggin

Kai Coggin is a Filipina American poet/writer with a newly released full-length poetry collection entitled "Incandescent" by Sibling Rivalry Press. Listen to us discuss how she came into poetry, the importance of her teachings, her amazing encounter and longstanding friendship with famed Chicana writer, Sandra Cisneros, and how she didn't know she submitted her first poetry submission to my literary & art online magazine, "The Manila Envelope", five years ago, among the many other "parallels" we have. She also reads a poem from "Incandescent" and explains the premise of it.  

You can order your copy here: 

Incandescent book cover

Visit her website: 


everything in me is a volcano
everything in me is a blazing new sun
everything in me is a conflagration of words
everything in me is a color that makes up wildfire
everything in me is a phoenix wing ablaze
everything in me is a heart’s inferno
everything in me is a lucent moon
giving off light
in whatever form
I can
emitting light as a result of being heated
and isn’t everything heated
and isn’t everything shamefully ablaze
and isn’t everything burning before us
and isn’t the whole wide world turning to ash
can we still find the light in all that is being lost
can we still project a vision that leads humanity forward
can we still search out beauty in the rubble
can we still shine amidst the trouble
can we name ourselves luminous
and believe it
we must
we do
if you recognize this is how you move through life
you are incandescent, too

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