The following were conducted by students at Brigham Young University in my English 317R or English 517R (writing creative nonfiction) classes. Most were done over speakerphone, though some were done in person. They were transcribed by the students or by the English department computer support center staff (many, many thanks to Beth Anne Schnebly, Hunter Anderson, and Wendy Cloutier!). Then they were edited by me and the interviewed essayists.

Update 11/17/08: Note the new interview with Mary Cappello and the posted Scott Russell Sanders interview (at long last) below.

Mary Cappello

22 February 2008

Mary Cappello

Mary Cappello is the author of Night Bloom: A Memoir (Beacon Press) and the Los Angeles Times Bestseller Awkward: A Detour (Bellevue Literary Press), a book-length essay on awkwardness. A new book, Swallow, based on a collection of over 2,000 swallowed and inhaled “foreign bodies” that were extracted by pioneering laryngologist Chevalier Jackson, will appear in 2010 from The New Press. Cappello’s essays, literary nonfiction, and experimental prose can be found in such places as Salmagundi, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, Raritan, American Letters and Commentary, Interim, and elsewhere. Excerpts of Cappello’s recently completed book, Called Back: A Breast Cancer Anti-Chronicle, are forthcoming in The Georgia Review and The Seattle Review. Professor of English at the University of Rhode Island, Mary Cappello has received The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination, The Lange-Taylor Prize from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Russia.

In this interview, Cappello talks about the detour as a literary genre, aphorisms and pause, the writer as architect and archivist, “word auras,” the importance of making mistakes, the difference between ideas and opinions, writing at the border of poetry and prose, nonfiction as a form of anti-truth, awkward quests, and more.

Student interviewers: Amanda Aagard, Amanda Dambrink, Mallory Eagar, Kimber Giles, Whitney Horito, Alma Jean, Chris John, Scott Morris, April Osborn, Kayla Quinney, Jennifer Ricks, Adrianne Roldan, Parker Valora, Kirk Wallace, and Jeanne Fischer.

Read this interview: PDF (530 KB)

Listen to this interview: MP3 (51:03; 14.6 MB)

Brian Doyle

16 October 2007

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle is beloved by us here at BYU, so we keep inviting him back. Meanwhile, he keeps publishing books and essays.

For more information on the illustrious Mr. Doyle, please see the entries below.

In these two interviews, Doyle speaks about ...

Student interviewers (517R): Lara Burton, Shayne Clarke, Catherine Curtis, Emily Dyer, Lindsay Griffin, Holly Hansen, Eric Izant, Afton Johnson, Anna Lewis, Janci Patterson, and Alison Roberg.

Student interviewers (317R): Ben Bascom, Amanda Dambrink, Jackie Donkin, Mallory Eagar, Lina Ferreira, Anne Gordon, Stephanie Johnson, Cassie Keller Cole, Jessica Montgomery, Jennifer Merkley, Michael Pickett, Ryan Tobler, and Julia Woodbury.

Listen to interview 1 (Engl 517R): MP3 (1:10:13; 20.1 MB)

Listen to interview 2 (Engl 317R): MP3 (46:39; 13.4 MB)

Terry Tempest Williams

16 April 2007

Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams is ...

In this interview, Williams talks about ...

Student interviewers (section 1): Kimberly Christenson, Jackie Donkin, Jordan Faux, Kellen Fowler, Jordan Green, Lindsay Griffin, Elizabeth Harrison, Lizzie Landon, Bart Mensinger, Holly Moore, Stephen Roberts, Amy Roper, Taylor Rouanzion, Melissa Wells, and Ben Williamson.

Student interviewers (section 2): Brittany Ballif, Amanda Davis, Mary Essuman, Alison Faulkner, David Grover, Afton Johnson, Jessica Lindsey, Janelle Phipps, Andrea Quinn, Eden Rasmussen, Jennifer Tays, and Laurel Teuscher.

Listen to part 1 of this interview: MP3 (27:13; 7.8 MB)

Listen to part 2 of this interview: MP3 (19:15; 5.5 MB)

Kim Dana Kupperman

20 October 2006

Kim Dana Kupperman

Kim Dana Kupperman is the managing editor of the Gettysburg Review. Her essays have been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Brevity, Cimarron Review, Ninth Letter, River Teeth, and other journals. Her essay "Relief," originally published in Hotel Amerika, was selected for the Best American Essays 2006.

In this interview, Kupperman talks about balancing memory and research, continual tinkering, inspirations and frustrations, the intersections between public and private histories, and much more.

Student interviewers: Skyler Anderson, Paul Aylworth, Wayne Beck, Mandi Bulechowsky, Mark Eliason, Alison Faulkner, Afton Johnson, Emily Mitarai, Kathryn Olsen, Elle Page, Eden Rasmussen, and Amy Scott.

Read this interview: PDF (508 KB)

Listen to this interview: MP3 (51:10; 14.6 MB)

Eduardo Galeano

26 May 2006

Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano is one of Uruguay's greatest living writers. He has published over thirty books in Spanish; these have been translated into more than twenty languages. Among his best works of literary nonfiction are The Book of Embraces, Days and Nights of Love and War, and the Memory of Fire trilogy, which won the American Book Award in 1989. He has won literary and humanitarian awards from around the world, including the Lannan Foundation's inaugural Prize for Cultural Freedom. He is by far one of my favorite writers, a tremendous influence on me and my own writing.

On 26 May 2006, Galeano visited BYU, where he read from his newest book, Voices of Time, and answered student & faculty questions about the slipperiness of genre definitions, art as a force for social change, and Ulysses S. Grant's promises about free trade (among other things).

Interviewers (in order of appearance): Dr. Patrick Madden, Dr. George Handley, Adam Hook, Jeff Tucker, Meagan Lawrence, Amy Scott, Lara Burton; Dr. Keith Johnson, Raj Chetty, Dr. Spanish Professor, Ben Taylor, Kira Jacobson.

Interview coming soon.

Scott Russell Sanders

22 March 2006

Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders is a Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University. He has published twenty books, including ten essay collections. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the Lily Endowment, and others. His essays regularly appear in the Best American Essays anthologies; they also appear in journals such as Audubon, Harper’s, Orion, North American Review, The Georgia Review, and The Missouri Review.

He spoke about the spaces between fiction and nonfiction, honesty in representing reality, dealings with family members, dialogue disclaimers, and finding a balance between humility and pride when dealing with rejection and criticism.

Student interviewers: Piper Armstrong, Erin Barker, Shayne Clarke, Natalie Clarkson, David Grover, Julie Johnson, Meagan Lawrence, Janel Macy, Emily McArthur, Chase McMillan, Logan Molyneux, Angie Smith, Johanna Sorensen, Autumn Vetter, Linda Walton, and Owen Young.

This interview was published in River Teeth, vol. 9, no. 1. (Fall 2007) Copyright 2008. Preprint posted with permission from the University of Nebraska Press. Please consider purchasing this issue or subscribing to River Teeth, an exceptional journal, especially for creative nonfictionists. River Teeth and other quality journals are available through the Project MUSE database.

Read this interview (interviewers identified, pictures): PDF (578 KB)

Read this interview at SRS's site: HTML

Listen to this interview: MP3 (49:01; 14.0 MB)

Brian Doyle

14 October 2005

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine, five times recognized by the international Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as the best small-circulation (up to 30,000) university magazine, and winner of the 2005 Robert Sibley Award (selected by the editors of Newsweek) for the best university magazine in North America. Portland magazine publishes literary essays and poems, often with spiritual themes, by many of the country's best writers.

Doyle's own essays have been anthologized four times in the Best American Essays and five times in the Best American Spiritual Writing. Before they make it into those august anthologies, they often show up in The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, Orion, Commonweal, The Georgia Review, Harper’s, and other periodicals. He has published eight books of essays, including The Wet Engine, a book-length essay on the heart; The Grail, a year-long amble through an Oregon vineyard; and Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, his "greatest hits." You should buy all of these books.

On 14 October 2005, Doyle read from his essays at BYU and spoke with students about writing.

Interview coming soon.

James Richardson

26 January 2005

James Richardson

James Richardson is a professor of English at Princeton University. He has published seven books of poetry, including Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays, and Interglacial: New and Selected Poetry and Aphorisms, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poetry and aphorisms have been published in Boulevard, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Science News, Slate, Yale Review, and other journals, and have been reprinted in the Best American Poetry of 2001 and 2005. Of particular interest to our creative nonfiction class were his aphorisms, which we read and enjoyed in Vectors.

Richardson speaks about the mundane and the personal; the reasonable and the beautiful; spontaneity, inspiration, and craft; as he reveals insights into his creative process.

Student interviewers: Nick Bernard, Amanda Bright, Meagan Lawrence, Patricia Martinez, Emily McArthur, Shannon McCune, Ryan Peterson, Tom Reese, Abby Thuet, Natalie Tidwell, and Josh Wise.

Listen to this interview: MP3 (37:44; 10.8 MB)

Brian Doyle

6 October 2004

Brian Doyle

Besides being the man described by the facts and statistics above, Brian Doyle is one of my favorite essayists. I first encountered his work in 1998's Best American Essays, which included "Altar Boy," a wide-ranging recollection of Doyle's days under the alb. Next, I read his essay "Full of Grace" (later called "Grace Notes") in Notre Dame Magazine. Thus I learned that Doyle and I were both domers. What sealed the deal, though, was "The Meteorites," from The American Scholar, reprinted in The Best American Essays 1999. This essay achieves ecstatic heights of reverie through its meticulous investigation of the mundane details of life at a summer camp where Doyle was a counselor herding 5 & 6 year old boys. The essay hinges on the sacramentality of an unappealing chore. I can't read this essay without a tear glistening in my eye.

In this first of the student interviews I organized, Doyle answered questions about detail and embellishment, faith in literature, the architecture of sentences, the unending search for truth. There's heady and hearty and humorous stuff in here.

Student interviewers: Derek Brooks, Lara Burton, Jessie Curtis, Joey Franklin, Freeman Green, Garred Lentz, Zach Lifferth, Brenda McKenna, Ty Robertson, and Josh Wise.

Read this interview: PDF (508 KB)