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The Host Dispatch: Season 1 Recap

Hello Friends,

Your podcast co-host, Claire Bowman, here. 2020 was a long, strange year. It felt like a trial by fire, ushering us from one existence into another, more apocalyptic-feeling one in which yesteryear's comforts were incinerated, in some ways for the best. But among all of the difficult moments, and through the changes, there was, here and there, a break in the clouds. For us at Host Publications, there was a lot to celebrate last year, (even though all of that celebration happened over Zoom!)

Our podcast, The Host Dispatch, was born from the flames of 2020. We had long talked of starting a podcast, and when the first shut-down happened in Austin and we all transitioned to working from our respective homes, it somehow felt like the right time. So we decided on a name, Annar Veröld created the podcast logo, and I buckled down and started really learning how to record and edit audio, and lo and behold, The Host Dispatch was born! 

Admittedly, when we recorded our first episode, "Poetry for Quarantimes," we really had no plan for how the first season of The Host Dispatch would take shape. Looking back, I couldn't be happier with the shape it took―the incredible interviews with poets and people we admire, the cherished discussions we had about poetry, art, and the books that helped us navigate the changing world around us.

This podcast became more than just a project―it became a virtual space where we could meet: a cozy, fire-lit room where we could see the flicker of each other's faces, settle into the soothing sounds of friendly conversation, and make something together that helped us cope, and hopefully helped some of you cope as well. 

By December, we'd miraculously published 13 episodes, and still had a wealth of ideas to fuel the fire for season two, which is coming soon. But for now, here is a list of the episodes from Season 1, to recap where we've been: 

Episode 1: Poetry for Quarantimes

Annar Veröld and I discuss our experiences during the beginning of what was to be a long (and ongoing) quarantine, and share some poetry we turned to during the pandemic, including poems by Mary Ruefle and Dulce María Loynaz. 

Episode 2: Science Fiction for Dystopian Times

Annar and I discuss current events, including the Black Lives Matter marches that were then taking place across the nation against the backdrop of a global pandemic. We took a look at our current moment through the lens of science fiction, focusing on two sci-fi writers who are women of color. The books discussed in this episode are: 

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa,
Bloodchild by Octavia Butler,
and her Xenogenesis trilogy

Episode 3: Introducing: The Host 88 Collection

In this minisode, Annar and I discuss the history of Host Publications, and its origins as a publisher of literature in translation from around the world to commemorate the reintroduction of our rich back catalogue, newly dubbed the "Host 88 Collection," with works from respected international authors such as Nicanor Parra, Pablo Neruda, Hai Zi, Astrid Cabral, Conceição Evaristo, and many more.   

Episode 4: More Poetry for Quarantimes

Annar and I discuss a couple more poets whose work we turned to during the pandemic while in quarantine. We discuss the work of poets Benjamin Fondane, and Haryette Mullen. 

Episode 5: In Conversation with Poet mónica teresa ortiz 

In this episode, we welcome our first guest to the podcast: mónica teresa ortiz! mónica is the author of Muted Blood and was the first recipient of the Host Publications Chapbook Prize for her book autobiography of a semiromantic anarchist [free download!]. Her work is revolutionary and heartfelt, and mónica is a generous and wise soul, as you will hear in this episode. We recommend checking out some of the books she mentions in this episode: 

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde
Open Veins of Latin America and by Eduardo Galeano
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

Episode 6: Women in Translation Month Roundtable


In this episode, we share our Women in Translation roundtable discussion with the founder of Host Publications, Joe Bratcher!

Women in Translation Month was launched in 2014, a creation of literary blogger Meytal Radzinski as a response to her observation that only around 30% of books published in translation were by women. At Host Publications, we celebrate women in translation all year round, but August is a special time of year to elevate those writers and share some of our favorites with you!

The Host 88 titles we discussed in this episode are:

Voices from the Bitter Core by Ursula Krechel translated by Amy Kepple Strawser
Women and Clothes by Brigette Kronauer trans. By Jutta Ittner
Reason Enough by Ida Vitale trans. By Sarah Pollack
Ambers Aglow: An Anthology of Contemporary Polish Women’s Poetry trans. By Regina Grol

We also discussed:

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio trans. by Jeannine Pitas
The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa trans. by Sawako Nakayasu

Episode 7: In Conversation with Poet Taisia Kitaiskaia 

In this very special episode, we were honored to interview the charming and inimitable poet, Taisia Kitaiskaia.

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a Russian-American poet and writer, and a dear friend of the podcast. In this interview, we discuss her book of poems The Nightgown and Other Poems (Deep Vellum, 2020), among other glorious things, including: toads, luxury quarantine snacks, munchkin icon Danny DeVito, and ham sandwiches.

Taisia is also the author of Literary Witches, a collaboration with artist Katy Horan celebrating magical women writers; a divination deck, The Literary Witches Oracle; and two books of experimental advice from a witch of Slavic folklore, Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles and its sequent, Poetic Remedies for Troubled Times: from Ask Baba Yaga. Please check out all of her books and other projects, like her incredible illustrations, on her website.

Episode 8: Mayor's Book Club Read Local: In Conversation with Kate Kelly

In this episode, we were joined by friend of the podcast, incredible poet, editor and educator, Kate Kelly. Kate currently serves as the Programs Manager for The Library Foundation in Austin, Texas, and in this episode, she introduced the lineup for 2020's Mayor’s Book Club Read Local campaign, featuring a list of over fifty books written by Austin authors in 2020.

Kate provides recommendations and insight into the Mayor's Book Club Read Local authors, books, workshops and book talks, as well as some key tips for how to be a happy, organized and mayor-quality human during the pandemic. 

To can see what else Kate is up to, including links to some of her published work, check out her website or follow her on Instagram @katekellytho

Episode 9: In conversation with Poet Claudia Delfina Cardona

In this episode, we chat with Claudia Delfina Cardona, winner of the Fall 2020 Host Publications Chapbook Prize.

Claudia is a talented poet born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is the co-founder of Chifladazine, a zine that highlights creative work by Latinas and Latinxs, and co-founder of Infrarrealista Review, a literary journal for Texan writers. You can find out more about Claudia and her work on her website, https://claudiadelfinacardona.com and follow her in Instagram @mexistentialism.

In this episode, Claudia tells us about her collection What Remains, the experiences that inspired those poems, her philosophies as an artist, poets who have influenced her, and much more.

Episode 10: Spooky BooOooks

In this episode, the whole Host team chats about the spoOoky books, discussing the new HBO Series Lovecraft Country, the Horror genre and subgenres, & what makes a book scary to each of us. 

The books discussed in this episode are:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
R E D by Chase Berggrun
Rogomelec by Leonor Fini (“ROGUE – MELL- IC”)
The Grand Nocturnal: Tales of Dread by Jean Ray
& The Dunwich Horror by H. P. Lovecraft 

Episode 11: In Conversation with Poet Julie Howd

In this episode, we converse with the delightful poet, Julie Howd.

Julie is a poet and educator from Massachusetts. She is the author of Threshold, winner of the Spring 2020 Host Publications Chapbook prize.

Julie’s poetry is a force of nature, and the poet has come to consider herself an “eco-surrealist” writing poetry that is deeply in tune with the threats facing our natural world, our sanity, and our joy.

We discuss some of the poems in Threshold, what kinds of toast we'd pair with Julie's poems, how many blankets are appropriate to use when working from home, where poetry comes from, and a bevy of other hilarities and affairs facing the life of the artist in the year 2020.

Here are links to some of the books, music, etc. discussed in this episode:

Octave of Light - Compositions by David Ibbett for the Museum of Science in Boston's Multiverse Series
Weighted blanket that feels like a real blanket
The Musical Brain by César Aira
Jack Spicer's Vancouver Lectures
Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite
Toast recipe to pair with Threshold 

Episode 12: Celebrating Native American Heritage Day

In this minisode, Annar and I offer some ways in which to pay respect to native people during the ever-problematic Thanksgiving holiday and its frightening capitalist cousin, Black Friday, which has now been deemed Native American Heritage Day. We wanted to take the time to honor indigenous cultures, and to educate ourselves about the history of this land, and the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which we can be of service to their communities.

Annar offers three easy ways to get involved in Native American Heritage Month:

Get Educated
- https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov
- https://www.nps.gov/index.htm
- https://collegefund.org
- https://www.firstpeoplesfund.org
- https://www.navajohopisolidarity.org
Practice Land Acknowledgment
- https://nativegov.org/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/

In this episode, we also discuss a new poetry collection, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry edited by US poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.

Episode 13: Haunted Christmas Tales

In this episode, the whole Host team discusses the age-old tradition of reading ghost stories on Christmas! Here are the books we discuss:

The Green Room by Walter de la Mare
Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk by Frank Cowper
The Diary of Mr. Poynter by M. R. James
The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol


To all of our listeners: we want to thank you for listening from the bottom of our hearts. 

For season two of The Host Dispatch, we intend to connect more with our community and to get your voices in the mix! We plan to read listener stories, poems and experiences on air. To that end, I’d like to put out a call for submissions for the beginning of season 2:

2020 was such a difficult year for so many of us, in ways we never could have imagined. There has been so much suffering and loss due to the pandemic, so much social upheaval in pursuit of justice for black lives, and the bipoc community, and the conversation won’t end here. As a community of book lovers, I feel we’ve learned that books are not only an escape from reality, but can be tools we use to cope with and better understand our reality. I know I’ve learned just how powerful a book can be in helping to change the minds and hearts of those who are willing to listen. To that end, we want to hear from you: Tell us What book has helped you cope this year? What book feels like the most important book for the year 2020? What should we be reading to carry us into the new year, to face whatever challenges may come in 2021?
We want to hear about your experience with these books, and to create a powerful reading list to share with our listeners and our community to kick off 2021 in the best way possible! All genres welcome!

Here's to making art, in whatever form, when we feel overwhelmed by the world. Here's to you, for joining us on this journey, and here's to Season 2 of The Host Dispatch...cheers!

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