Tin House


Tin House Workshop Podcasts

Subscribe free to this irreverent and well-intentioned podcast, a monthly showcase that features lectures on the craft of writing and author readings from our annual Summer Writer’s Workshop. A must for those of you with time to spare.

September 15, 2015

When the Action is Hot, Write Cool, with Debra Gwartney

In this craft talk from our 2015 Summer Workshop, Debra Gwartney discusses the ways in which you can allow the reader to feel for herself, rather than be instructed by the writer.

August 17, 2015

Making Sense of the Sentence, with Christopher R. Beha

Many writers spend a good amount of time tirelessly perfecting sentences that serve no purpose, forever chasing the fair without ever considering the fit. This lecture, first given during our 2012 Summer Workshop, and later anthologized in The Writer’s Notebook II (as “Do Something”), looks into the work that the best type of sentences do, examining how they play within their paragraphs, and how that interplay influences the story as a whole.

May 11, 2015

Making the Black Dog Sit, with Matthew Dickman

In his 2011 Summer Workshop lecture titled "Making The Black Dog Sit," Tin House poetry editor Matthew Dickman tackled the complicated subject of suicide by examining poems which engaged with the often misunderstood act, illuminating how the shadow of suicide affects both the life of the artist and his or her work. Using poetry as a mending device, Matthew transforms the taboo into something more like benevolence.

February 3, 2015

How to Write a Hoax Poem, with Kevin Young

In this lecture from our 2014 Summer Workshop, Kevin Young discusses some of the more notable modern poetry hoaxes, glimpsing into the secret history of the poem as something conceived to tempt or even trick. By understanding the ways the hoax works, Young suggests that we may better know our own assumptions, habits, and hurts, and how to subvert them in our writing. For the hoax poem urges us to write poetry that is not afraid of chaos but confronts it.

January 21, 2015

Nooner Edition: Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu reads from his 2014 novel All Our Names. Named as one of the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2014, the novel looks at the relationship between a Midwestern social worker and an Ethiopian exile trying to reconcile with the forces that brought him to America. As always, this reading was given at Reed College during our annual Summer Writers' Workshop.

January 12, 2015

The Furniture Appears to be Dreaming, with Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder attempts to spectacularly fail, for once and for all, to define poetry in this lecture from our 2014 Summer Workshop.

December 4, 2014

Nooner Edition: Jonathan Dee

Jonathan Dee reads his short story “Four More Years”. The story appears in Tales of Two Cities: The Best and Worst of Times in Today’s New York. Edited by John Freeman and published by OR Books, the stories in Tales of Two Cities mix fiction and reportage to convey the indignities and heartbreak, the callousness and solidarities, of living side-by-side with people who have a stupefyingly different income. This recording was taken during our 2014 Summer Workshop.

November 5, 2014

Nooner Edition: Mat Johnson

A sneak peak listen as Mat Johnson reads from his forthcoming novel Loving Day. Recorder live at at our 2014 Summer Workshop, the reading centers on Warren Duffy who has returned to America for all the wrong reasons; his marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comic shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish-American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of Philadelphia.

October 21, 2014

Complex Moments in Fiction, with Robert Boswell

Alternating between the story of a group of young basketball players making their way to the county fair and a dissection of the story’s architecture, Boswell’s 2010 lecture focuses on the complex moments in fiction that startle and amaze and examines what there is to be learned from their formation. There is plenty of craft to be had, plus a character names Penis Eyes.

October 7, 2014

Nooner Edition: Bianca Stone

On Today’s Nooner, newlywed Bianca Stone goes back to the altar as she reads from her collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House Books/Octopus).

September 26, 2014

How To Write A Kick-Ass Essay, with Ann Hood

Too often, when writers try to write an essay, they stumble on common pitfalls like cramming too much information into too small a space, giving too much back story, or trying to write an essay for a particular column rather than writing an emotionally true one. We all have read memoirs that take our breath away, but how does a writer manage to produce that effect in under 3,000 words? In this lecture from our 2014 Summer Writers' Workshop, (Tin House bestie) Ann Hood offers up ten steps to help you write a kick-ass essay.

November 18, 2013

Nooner Edition: Matthew Dickman

On Today’s Nooner, our own Matthew Dickman reads a selection of his work (including a few from his excellent 2012 collection, Mayakovsky’s Revolver) that both starts the party and helps heal the wounds that inevitably occur when it ends.

October 29, 2013

Nooner Edition: Jess Walter

Close the curtains, pour yourself a drink, unwrap some candy, and listen to Jess Walter’s “Don’t Eat Cat.” First published by Byliner, this wickedly funny send-up of zombie fiction also appears in Jess’s We Live in Water.

October 15, 2013

Get Me To The World On Time, with Luis Urrea

On this month's Tin House Podcast, our man Luis Alberto Urrea preaches on the importance of place in your writing. "You don't come from a place, you come from a story," Luis says. "Every place you know, every place you try to create, means something because there is a story attached, even if you haven't recognized that yet."

September 23, 2013

Nooner Edition: Jodi Angel

Welcome to the Tin House Podcast Nooner Edition, a quick burst of poetry and story telling that will leave you satisfied and out the door in under twenty minutes. On today’s Nooner, Jodi Angel reads from “Firm and Good” which Tin House was luck enough to publish twice. First appearing in our 2013 Summer Issue, it also is featured in her collection You Only Get Letters from Jail, which came out earlier this year from Tin House Books.

May 7, 2012

On the Couch, with Aimee Bender and Steve Almond

In this workshop lecture from 2008, Bender and Almond, both the offspring of therapists, offer sage advice on how to attack your bad habits on the page, before you sit down to write. The discussion includes many of today's most alarming literary disorders: The artistic sabotage of the unconscious, fear of emotional exposure, obsessive metaphor breakdown, and prose envy. With three out of every for writers suffering from some sort of literary discombobulation, this is a lecture you cannot afford to miss.

February 29, 2012

Light Touches, with Dorianne Laux and Peyton Marshall

The work of both of our featured authors today seems breezy on the surface. Poems about celebrities. An essay on summer camp. But their lightness begets something darker. Something more recognizable and moving than we initially suspected. Like the best of all writing, there is blood in these words. They leave a mark.

January 25, 2012

On Defamiliarization, with Anthony Doerr

The Tin House Podcast starts the new year off in good hands as writer Anthony Doerr takes the pre off the dictable with a talk on defamiliarization and how its usage in art can alter our perception of the known world. Like the best of his writing, Doerr’s 2008 lecture ends up being more than just a display of craft: It’s a blueprint for life itself.

November 30, 2011

Writing as a Ghost Story, with Luis Urrea

Join us as literary sorcerer Luis Urrea takes us to a Tijuana happening where saints, ghosts, and storytelling all intersect to form a potent elixir. Recorded at the 2011 Tin House Writers' Workshop, Luis reads for the first time from The Queen of America, his anticipated follow up to The Hummingbird's Daughter. Luis also provides keen insight into his writing in the form of his lecture entitled "The Theory and Practice of Trust: Writing as a Ghost Story."

October 25, 2011

Velvet Readings, with Mary Szybist & Benjamin Percy

Sublime duets. The Tin House Writers' Workshop has witnessed many over the years, but few can compare to the mellifluous cocktail that was mixed by poet Mary Szybist and novelist Benjamin Percy during our 2011 Summer Writer's Workshop. With voices as disparate as seasons, the pair laid claim to an ownership of storytelling by both playing to and subverting the implied nature of their vocals. In this, they cemented their status as the Nancy and Lee of Tin House.

September 23, 2011

On Dialogue, with Dorothy Allison

After a lengthy summer absence, The Tin House Podcast returns with Dorothy Allison talking dialogue, a subject which few other writer are better equipped to discuss. In works such as Bastard Out of Carolina and the short story collection Trash, Dorothy brings life to her characters by infusing them with dialects that jump from the page, immediately immersing her readers in time and place. Gifted with a voice that could command an audience in any era, Dorothy treated the participants of this past summer’s Tin House Writers' Workshop to a spirited discussion on how people should speak on the page.

June 21, 2011

Summer Feelings, with Steve Almond and D.A. Powell

A journey back through halcyon days with two authors who have spent their fair share of time crashing at Tin House. And then some. Steve Almond opens up our third podcast with a lecture given at last year's Writers Workshop. Ever the trickster, Steve called it: "Everything They told You In MFA School is Wrong, Except The Part About The Debt." Like the best of his writing, Steve’s lecture offended, told some truths, and was tied together with humor and grace. Next we're treated to some verbal magic from D.A. Powell, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. His reading last year, at sunset, before a rapt audience, reminded us why poetry is meant to be read aloud. Preferably with a summer cocktail in hand.

March 18, 2011

The Cartography of Imaginary Places, with Karen Russell

In this installment, recorded during 2010's Tin House Writers' Workshop, Karen Russell holds forth on the ways magic and reality can coexist in fiction, as well as her fascination with the dust bowl and talking scarecrows.  

February 10, 2011

Why I Write, with Joy Williams

Live at the 2010 Tin House Summer Writers' Workshop, Joy Williams (author of The Quick and the Dead — a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 — and five other works of fiction) reads the essay “Why I Write” from her 2001 collection Ill Nature.