Episode 523 – Dawn Raffel

Virtual Memories Show 523:
Dawn Raffel

“For me, the most interesting about the whole process of writing isn’t sentence-making (although I could spend a year reworking the same sentence); it’s finding unexpected connections.”

Author Dawn Raffel rejoins the show to celebrate her wonderful new book, Boundless As The Sky (Sagging Meniscus Press), a gorgeous series of stories & a novella that take us from Invisible Cities to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. We talk about how Dawn’s previous nonfiction book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, led into this new book, how she became obsessed with the Century of Progress World’s Fair (and how she wishes she could have asked her parents about visiting it in their youth), why Chicago was always her Emerald City, and how NYC has transformed over the decades she’s lived here. We also get into the strong influence of Invisible Cities on her book and how she felt about writing a feminine/feminist response to Calvino, how the two parts of Boundless As The Sky — stories, novella — talk to each other, the twin writing-joys of unexpected resonances and sentence-building, and how incorporating Yoga Nidra offers new approaches to writing workshops. We also get into her recent trip to Kenya for International Literary Seminars, her pandemic Zoom writing-accountability partners, how she finally got around to reading Moby-Dick (and what she made of it), and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read Boundless As The Sky!

(And go listen to our 2019 conversation!)

“With the traditional writing workshop, it’s so much from-the-neck-up, and by the time we sit down to workshop a piece, it’s already a fact, it’s something on paper. With embodied writing workshops, it’s a way of asking people to tap into deeper layers of consciousness, to try to tap into the things you know in the body, on a deeper level.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Dawn Raffel is the author of five previous books, including The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. Other books include two short story collections, a novel, and a memoir. Her stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including NOON, BOMB, Conjunctions, Exquisite Pandemic, New American Writing, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, Best Small Fictions, and more. Her new book is Boundless As The Sky.

Follow Dawn on Twitter and Instagram and go listen to our 2019 conversation.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Dawn & Pierre The Terrier by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

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