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Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon

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Writer’s Voice is a weekly national radio show and podcast—on the air since 2004. Each week brings an hour of in-depth conversation with writers of all genres about matters both timely and timeless. Check out our archives with journalists like James Risen and Bob Herbert, novelists like Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Erdrich, poets like Richard Wilbur and Maxine Kumin, and many more notable guests. Francesca Rheannon is producer and host of Writer's Voice. She is a writer, an … Continue Reading >>
Writer’s Voice is a weekly national radio show and podcast—on the air since 2004. Each week brings an hour of in-depth conversation with writers of all genres about matters both timely and timeless. Check out our archives with journalists like James Risen and Bob Herbert, novelists like Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Erdrich, poets like Richard Wilbur and Maxine Kumin, and many more notable guests. Francesca Rheannon is producer and host of Writer's Voice. She is a writer, an independent radio producer and a broadcast journalist. << Show Less
Featured Audio
Jenny Offill on Climate Hope Climate doom or climate hope? Francesca poses the question to Jenny Offill, author of the "cli-fi" novel WEATHER.
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Top Snippets from Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon
What Motivates Us To Fight Racism? Rage or Love? Honorée Fanonne Jeffers on how W.E.B. DuBois inspired her bestselling breakout novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois
Who was Lady Bird Johnson, really? And Michael Klare on China, war & more Julia Sweig tells us about the real Lady Bird. And Michael Klare says neither China nor the US will have the energy to fight each other because they'll be doing too much of this.
Playlists
Climate Interviews with authors (fiction and nonfiction) about their books on the climate crisis. Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon
Black Authors Excerpts from Writer's Voice interviews over the years with Black authors: history, memoir, fiction and more. Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon
Newest Audio
Bruce Holsinger, THE DISPLACEMENTS & Elizabeth Cripps, WHAT CLIMATE JUSTICE MEANS AND WHY WE SHOULD CARE Bruce Holsinger tells us about his novel, The Displacements. It’s about what happens to a family when the first Category Six hurricane hits the wealthy enclave of Coral Gables, Florida.
Then, we talk with moral philosopher Elizabeth Cripps about her book, What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care.
Bruce Holsinger
There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide in a world beset by the Climate Catastrophe—not even if you’re rich. The leveling impact of climate change is at the heart of Bruce Holsinger’s novel The Displacements.
It’s a page-turning dive into what happens to people when climate driven disasters take everything from them. And how they cope in an America where disaster response is ever more stretched to the breaking point.
Bruce Holsinger is the author of the bestselling novel The Gifted School, as well as two historical novels set in the Middle Ages, among other books. He teaches English at the University of Virginia.
Read an excerpt from The Displacements
Elizabeth Cripps
At the very heart of the climate crisis is the question: what is our responsibility to our fellow humans, future generations and all the other living beings we share the planet with?
Elizabeth Cripps examines the moral dimensions of the climate crisis in her book What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care.
Cripps is a moral and political philosopher and writer, specializing in climate justice and parental duties. She teaches at the University of Edinburgh and is Associate Director of CRITIQUE: Centre for Ethics and Critical Thought.
Mary Pipher, A LIFE IN LIGHT & Anita Barrows, THE LANGUAGE OF BIRDS We talk to Mary Pipher about her new memoir, A Life In Light: Meditations On Impermanence.
And poet, therapist and translator Anita Barrows talks with us about her stunning debut novel, The Language of Birds.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.
Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.

Anita Barrows
Anita Barrows is a poet, translator and therapist working with children with disabilities, including autism. She draws on all these vocations in her debut novel The Language of Birds.
The novel is beautifully written—there’s the poet. It’s about two sisters, one autistic, the other socially isolated, and their struggle to connect with others and their own strengths—there’s the therapist. And, in exploring the world of an autistic character, Barrows translates that world for the reader with sensitivity and compassion.
Both sisters carry the burden of loss. But coming to terms with that loss unlocks the resilience within each of them to open to the love and care of others, and return it.
Anita Barrows has published three poetry volumes. Her translations with Joanna Macy of Rilke’s poetry and prose have been set to music, and nominated for national awards. She teaches at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, and maintains an active therapy practice specializing in trauma and developmental disabilities in children, adolescents and adults.
Mary Pipher
Mary Pipher has been exploring what sustains us as individuals, members of families and of society for well over twenty years. From her classic, Reviving Ophelia, to the last book we spoke with her about, Women Rowing North, Pipher put us in touch with ourselves, our challenges and our resilience.
Her latest book, A Life In Light, is a memoir, where she draws on these challenges and strengths as they applied in her own life.
Drawing from her own experiences and expertise as a psychologist specializing in women, trauma, and the effect of our culture on our mental health, she looks inward to what shaped her as a woman, one who has experienced darkness throughout her life but was always drawn to the light.
Listen to our interview with Mary Pipher about Women Rowing North
James Bridle, WAYS OF BEING & Sy Montgomery, THE HAWK’S WAY Artist, technologist, and philosopher James Bridle tells us about his book, Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for A Planetary Intelligence.
Then we talk with Sy Montgomery (Soul of the Octopus) about her new book, a memoir of falconry, The Hawk’s Way.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.

James Bridle
What does it mean to be intelligent? Is it something unique to humans or shared with other beings— beings of flesh, wood, stone, and silicon?
Artist, technologist, and philosopher James Bridle seeks the answer in his book, Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for A Planetary Intelligence. He explores the different kinds of intelligences that we have lived among since time immemorial — as well as the new intelligences we are creating through technology.
What can we learn from them, and how can we change ourselves, our technologies, our societies, and our politics to live better and more equitably with one another and the nonhuman world?
James Bridle draws on biology and physics, computation, literature, art, and philosophy to explore these questions.
Listen to an excerpt from Ways of Being
Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery is noted for her friendships with animals. There are the octopuses she wrote about in her bestseller The Soul of An Octopus. The pig, Christopher Hogwood. And the myriad animals she lived with during both childhood and adulthood, whom she wrote about in How To Be A Good Creature.
But her latest relationship can’t really be called a friendship—more like a vassalship to a noble being: a hawk.
Montgomery writes about learning to be a hawk’s junior hunting partner in her new book The Hawk’s Way — and what that taught her about the heart of wildness.
Listen to an audio excerpt from The Hawks Way and see photos of the magnificent birds Montgomery writes about.
Next Week on Writer&#8217;s Voice
We talk with Mary Pipher about her new book, A LIFE IN LIGHT. Then Anita Barrows tells us about her novel, THE LANGUAGE OF BIRDS.
Ari Rabin-Havt, THE FIGHTING SOUL & Chuck Rocha, TÍO BERNIE We talk with Ari Rabin-Havt about his campaign memoir, The Fighting Soul: On The Road With Bernie Sanders.
Then we play an excerpt from our 2020 interview with Chuck Rocha, Bernie’s campaign lead on Latino voters, about his book, Tío Bernie.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.
Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.

Ari Rabin-Havt
In 2017, a poll found that Bernie Sanders was the most popular politician in America. Yet he inspired some of the most vicious vitriol from the established press and the Twitterverse ever seen.
Few people know who Bernie really is, as he deliberately keeps the focus on his policies, not himself.
In his book, The Fighting Soul, Ari Rabin-Havt reveals the real Bernie Sanders. He was a close advisor and deputy campaign manager on Sanders’s 2020 campaign, spending more hours with the Vermont senator than anyone else.
The book is a fascinating dive into a presidential campaign like no other—how it succeeded in building a massive following and how it ultimately failed to gain the nomination.
In addition to serving as deputy campaign manager on Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, Ari Rabin-Havt  was a Sanders aide from 2017 to 2021. His writing has appeared in the New Republic and the Washington Post, among other publications.
Read An Excerpt
Chuck Rocha
Chuck Rocha was a chief strategist for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. While he worked broadly in the campaign, his special mission was to mobilize the Latino vote for the Senator.
We spoke with him in 2020 about his memoir of the campaign Tío Bernie. We play an excerpt from that conversation.
Listen to the entire interview
Jim Shepard, PHASE SIX & Cob Carlson, THE GREATEST RADIO STATION IN THE WORLD We talk with novelist Jim Shepard about his latest work of fiction, Phase Six. It&#8217;s about what happens when a mining operation in the thawing permafrost of Greenland releases a deadly virus into the world.
Then, we talk with Cob Carlson about his new documentary, The Greatest Radio Station In The World. It’s about listener-supported WPKN 89.5 fm Bridgeport CT, which just happens to be the home station of Writer’s Voice.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on twitter @WritersVoice

Jim Shepard
One of the least known but most terrifying consequences of global warming is the release of ancient pathogens from the melting permafrost. Lethal viruses and bacteria that have been locked up for many millennia—and against which humans have zero immunity—pose the threat of lethal pandemics that could take out millions, if not billions of humans and other animals.
In his new novel Phase Six, Jim Shepard brings together two interrelated trends that increase the risk: the thawing Arctic is leading to more mining—and that mining threatens to release pathogens that are new to human immune systems.
A mining operation in Greenland releases a virus that wipes out an Inuit community, save for the sole survivor, a young boy.
As the deadly virus spreads, two young investigators from the CDC race to identify the pathogen and sequence its genome. The connections between the scientists and the young boy the CDC has taken charge of pose questions about the moral responsibilities we owe each other and how we carry them out.
Jim Shepherd is the author of eight novels. Read an excerpt from Phase Six.
Cob Carlson
WPKN 89.5 FM in Bridgeport CT has been the radio home of Writer’s Voice for over a decade. We are proud to be part of this terrific station, home to some of the best music and public affairs programming you can find on the radio dial—and streaming on the Web.
So when the New Yorker magazine published a piece calling WPKN “The Greatest Radio Station In The World,” we were thrilled that it was finally getting the national recognition it so richly deserved.
Then, filmmaker and WPKN listener Cob Carlson came out with a documentary film about the station, taking its title from the Nw Yorker article. It premiered last month and will headline the Bridgeport Film Festival on July 23 in Bridgeport, CT.
Cob Carlson has been a film editor and producer on numerous films, such as Farmageddon and on TV shows Frontline and Nova. In addition to The Greatest Radio Station in The World, he made the documentary, Donald Ross: Discovering The Legend.
Jonathan Lee, THE GREAT MISTAKE & Michael Mechanic, JACKPOT We speak with Jonathan Lee about his historical novel The Great Mistake. It’s about the man who’s called “The Father of Greater New York,” Andrew Haswell Green.
Then, Michael Mechanic takes us on a tour into the lives of the super-rich and what their astronomic wealth says about America. His book is Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live- and How their Wealth Harms Us All.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.
Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.

Jonathan Lee
Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Public Library: all of these great public institutions were the inspiration of one man: Andrew Haswell Green.
He was also responsible for the borough system that makes up greater New York: Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
So how come so few people have ever heard of him? Did it have something to do with the horror and absurdity of his end? He was murdered in 1903 by someone who thought he was actually someone else. That mistake is one inspiration for Jonathan Lee’s novel about Andrew Green, The Great Mistake.
Lee immerses the reader in the character of Green—a fictional imagining that fascinates both with the strangeness and the humanity of this remarkable historical person.
Jonathan Lee is the author of three previous novels.
Read an excerpt from The Great Mistake
Michael Mechanic
The rich are getting much, much richer while more Americans are falling into poverty. In 2018, the three richest men in America held combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans. The bottom 40% of Americans have no assets at all.
Michael Mechanic wanted to know how the super-rich deal with all that astronomical wealth. Does it make them happy? How does it skew their perception of reality?
His book Jackpot explores these questions and more. It’s an inquiry that begs the question: should billionaires exist?
Michael Mechanic is an author and journalist for Mother Jones Magazine.
David Bollier THE COMMONER’S CATALOG & Katha Pollitt, PRO We talk with David Bollier about his latest book, The Commoners Catalog For Change Making: Tools For The Transitions Ahead.
Then, in light of the Supreme Court ruling taking away the constitutional right of women to reproductive freedom, we listen back to our 2015 interview with Katha Pollitt about her book, PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.
Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Like us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon or find us on twitter @WritersVoice.
Love Writer’s Voice? Please rate us on your podcast app. It really helps to get the word out about our show.

David Bollier
It’s becoming pretty clear that our current economic system is leading us
straight over the cliff. Whether you call it predatory capitalism or neoliberalism, the whole notion of subordinating all socio-economic and environmental needs to endlessly increasing short-term profit for a tiny elite is, well, nuts.
But what’s a workable alternative? One that can promote wellbeing and democracy?David Bollier says the answer is both new and age-old: he calls it “commoning.”
Commoners seek to prioritize people’s needs over market extraction, steward the Earth, relocalize the economy, and build new institutions of empowerment.
And The Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking Bollier has complied is a kind of Whole Earth Catalog for the 21st century. It explains the transformational power of social collaboration by showcasing dozens of pathbreaking projects, books, websites, and activist initiatives. It’s an indispensable tool for transition to a livable future.
David Bollier is a global leader in the commoning movement. He’s the author of numerous books, including Fair, Free and Alive, Think Like a Commoner, and Brand Name Bullies. And we’ve talked with him about all those books and more.
He is also the founder of the website OnThe Commons.org and the host of the podcast, Frontiers of Commoning.
Read an Online Version of The Commoners Catalog
Katha Pollitt
The Supreme Court has now stripped away the constitutional right of women to make their own reproductive choices.
Overturning Roe vs. Wade is just the beginning of an all-out assault on women’s rights, the rights of LGBTQ people, and other crucial rights, like the right to free and fair elections and the right to protect the environment.
It’s a horrific shock but not unexpected. It’s been coming for years, as the right to reproductive freedom has been steadily chipped away.
Back in 2015, we spoke with Katha Pollitt about her book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. It’s as relevant today as ever.
Kathryn Miles, TRAILED & SUPERSTORM How safe are our national parks, especially for women hikers?
Not safe enough, says Kathryn Miles. We talk with her about her book Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders. It’s about the murders of two remarkable women in 1996, a botched investigation and the failure by the National Park Service to take the safety of women hikers seriously.
Then, as 2022 is slated to experience a severe hurricane season, we revisit our 2015 conversation with Kathryn Miles about her book about Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm.
Writer’s Voice — in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Rate us on your favorite podcast app! It really helps others find our show. And like us on Facebook at Writers Voice Radio or find us on Twitter @WritersVoice.

Trailed
In May 1996, two skilled backcountry leaders, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, entered Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park for a week-long backcountry camping trip. After the pair didn’t return home as planned, park rangers found their tent slashed open, their beloved dog missing, and both women dead in their sleeping bags.
When journalist and author Kathryn Miles began looking into the case, she found conflicting evidence, mismatched timelines, and details that didn’t add up.
An innocent man, Miles is convinced, has been under suspicion for decades, while the true culprit is a known serial killer Miles says authorities should investigate.
But Trailed is more than a gripping true crime story. It’s a plea to make wilderness a safer space for women and to change the cultural narratives that put them at risk.
Kathryn Miles is the author of, among other books, Quakeland and Superstorm.
Superstorm
Scientists say that climate change is driving the giant storms that are ever more frequently battering the East and Gulf Coasts of the US.
It’s been ten years since one of them hit: Superstorm Sandy. It was the deadliest, most destructive, and strongest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
Kathryn Miles wrote the first complete account of what happened during the nine days of Sandy’s life, Superstorm. I spoke with her about the book in 2015.
Jackie Higgins, SENTIENT & Carl Safina, BECOMING WILD We talk with Jackie Higgins about her book, Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses.
Then we air our 2020 interview with Carl Safina about his book, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace.
Writer’s Voice — in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.
Rate us on your favorite podcast app! It really helps others find our show. And like us on Facebook at Writers Voice Radio or find us on Twitter @WritersVoice.

Jackie Higgins
On June 14, New York’s Supreme Court declared that an elephant is not a person.
Happy the elephant, the Guardian reported, will not be released from the Bronx zoo to a more spacious sanctuary through a habeas corpus proceeding, which is a way for people to challenge illegal confinement. The court said “granting legal personhood in a case like this would affect how humans interact with animals, according to the majority decision.”
Indeed. What they really mean, is that it would call into question our use of animals as objects to exploit.
Anyone who has seen how elephants mourn understands that elephants are persons. Moreover, we humans are animals, a fact so obvious that only willful ignorance can deny it.
So changing how we interact with animals might be a good thing, not only to save and protect other animals, but also to preserve the biosphere on which we depend.
This is very much the perspective that informs Jackie Higgins book, Sentient.
Higgins shows the evolutionary links between our own senses and those of animals—senses that encompass not only the five we are so familiar with, but up to seventeen more senses.
Sentient explores the scientific revolution stirring in the field of perception, showing that the extraordinary sensory powers of our animal friends can help us better understand the same powers that lie dormant within us.
Carl Safina
Go here for information about our 2020 interview with Safina about Becoming Wild.
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