Miller Aud-cast Episode 41: Trevor Stephenson

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, the Missouri Review podcast where we listen to and discuss the finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. Happy New Year, listeners. May 2022 be recklessly good to you. Let’s start it off with episode 41 of the Miller Aud-cast, featuring the latest finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Prose, “Bittersweet,” from Trevor Stephenson.

Trevor Stephenson is the pen name of Brian Hicks, an enrolled member of the Osage Nation, from the Gentle Peacemaker Clan, with Cherokee and European ancestors. Raised in the shadow of the Osage Hills, born miles from the reservation boundary, Trevor is a recent graduate of the Middlesex University Masters in Novel Writing Program, and a past recipient of The Alumni Scholarship from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is at work on a novel about a mixed blood Indian dealing with historical and generational trauma. His work addresses what it means to live in the liminal position between American Indian culture and the dominant US society.

The following is from his artist’s note:

Much of my personal story emanates from the domain given to my ancestors by the Creator: this piece is meant to demonstrate respect for the land as well as how our current state of being should be understood in terms of our relation to the physical environment. I believe the land, water, and sky speak for themselves, however, understanding what is being communicated requires dedicated awareness.

Stick around after the piece to hear managing editor Marc McKee and contest editor Bailey Boyd talk about how carefully and poignantly this piece does the work of allowing personal feeling to move into broader and deeper reckoning with history and its distortion and erasure.

Aud-cast 42 is right around the corner, so BE ALERT. Thanks as always to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Can I remind you of something before we go? TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! In addition, we have tons of marvelous (and free!) creative content to read, listen to, and even watch on our website. Learn more at missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 40: Sally Stevens

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, the Missouri Review podcast where we listen to and discuss the finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. The Aud-cast is back for episode 40, featuring the latest finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Humor, “The Story Lady/Cindarella,” from Sally Stevens.

Sally Stevens works in film and television scoring, sound recordings and concert in the Hollywood music business as a singer/choral director and lyricist. She served as Choral Director for the OSCARS broadcast for 22 years, and her voice can be heard on literally hundreds of film and television scores. She sings the main title for The Simpsons, now in its 32nd year of airing.

Her other passion is writing, and her short stories and poems have been included in Mockingheart Review, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Raven’s Perch, The OffBeat, Funny in Five Hundred, Between the Lines Anthology: Fairy Tales & Folklore Re-imagined, The Los Angeles Press, The Voices Project, and No Extra Words podcast. Had the pandemic not shut them down, this would have been her 22nd summer at the University of Iowa summer writing workshops. She has recently completed a memoir about her journey through the music world of Hollywood, including the touring years in concert with Ray Conniff, Nat King Cole and Burt Bacharach.

She is also a fine art photographer and has had several Black & White Fine Art Photography exhibits in the Los Angeles area. Some of the photos from her series of film composer portraits were included in an exhibit at Cite de la Musique in Paris, in 2013.

Artist Notes:
The notes about this particular material — when I was a kid, I wanted to be another Lucille Ball when I grew up. Life took me in another direction, but I just love doing readings and hearing the audience laughter. This piece was so fun to create, and I’m just thrilled that it will hopefully be enjoyed by folks I would never otherwise have a chance to share it with. My love and thanks to TMR.

Social Handles/Websites:

www.HollywoodFilmChorale.com
www.SallyStevensWriter.com
www.SallyStevensPhotography.com/filmscoring.html

Stick around after the piece to hear managing editor Marc McKee and contest editor Bailey Boyd talk about how the funny unfolds in this clever project.

Aud-cast 41 is on its way soon, so BE ALERT. Thanks as always to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Just as a reminder, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! In addition, we have tons of marvelous (and free!) creative content to read, listen to, and even watch on our website. Learn more at missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 38: Toni Ann Johnson

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, the Missouri Review podcast where we listen to and discuss the finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. I’m Marc McKee, managing editor, and the weather on the internet is half a billion dogs, 13 mudslides, 5 of which are on fire, gossip that looks like advertising, and advertising that looks like gossip: hang onto your brollys. Thankfully, the Aud-cast is here for episode 38, featuring the latest finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Prose, “Time Travel,” by Toni Ann Johnson.

Toni Ann Johnson’s short fiction and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Hunger Mountain, Callaloo, The Emerson Review, Coachella Review, and elsewhere. A novel, Remedy For a Broken Angel was nominated for a 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. A novella, Homegoing won Accents Publishing’s inaugural novella contest and was released in May of 2021. A linked story collection, Light Skin Gone to Waste won the 2021 Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction and is forthcoming from The University of Georgia Press in 2022. “Time Travel” is part of this collection. Johnson was the Humanitas Prize-winning screenwriter of the TV movie Ruby Bridges. She also wrote the second installment of the Step Up dance franchise, Step Up 2: The Streets.

Learn more and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook:

Social handles:
Twitter handle: @toniannjohnson https://twitter.com/toniannjohnson
Instagram is treeladytoniann https://www.instagram.com/treeladytoniann/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/toniannjohnson/

Miller Aud-cast Episode 36: Turkeys

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, the Missouri Review podcast where we listen and discuss the finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. This is episode 36, featuring the latest finalist for the Miller Audio Prize in Humor. That finalist is “Turkeys,” from the series SAFETY IN THE FIELD, part of a body of short film and audio projects inspired by educational audio-visual material: training films, filmstrips, foreign-language instruction records, etc. This entry comes to us from Christian Baskous, with help from Paul Bates, Sonnie Brown, and Marcos Martinez.

Christian Baskous is an actor, writer and director. His original work for radio has played and been serialized on non-commercial stations across the US and Canada. He’s appeared in motion pictures, plays and on TV and recorded popular audiobook versions of works by Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Jim Harrison and others.

Make sure you keep listening after the piece to hear contest editor Bailey Boyd and I talk “Turkeys,” and consider the subtle—and not so subtle—elements that build its comedy. To echo Christian Baskous, thanks for listening!

Aud-cast 37 is on its way soon, so look forward to listening to that in the coming moments. Thanks as always to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Just as a reminder, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! In addition, we have tons of exhilarating (and free!) creative content to read, listen to, and even watch on our website. Discover more here.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 33: Janet Horvath

Hello and welcome to Aud-cast #33. It’s our pleasure to introduce the latest Audio Documentary finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize, Janet Horvath, with her piece “A Musician Who Can’t Tolerate Sound.”

Janet Horvath, is a lifelong performing classical musician, soloist, author, speaker, and educator. The Minnesota Orchestra’s associate principal cello from 1980 to 2012, she has appeared as soloist with orchestra, and in recital and chamber music throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The author of the award-winning book Playing (Less) Hurt—an Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians, she has worked with instrumentalists to establish a holistic approach: to play with ease and eloquence, while preserving good posture and maintaining comfort.

A pioneer and authority in the area of the medical problems of performing artists and a passionate arts advocate, Janet’s masterclasses and seminars are well-regarded by both amateur and professional musicians, teachers and students, and health care providers. Presentations include for the San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and at colleges, conservatories, and conferences from coast to coast. She has appeared on the BBC, CBC, and NPR national radio stations and television.

Her Tiny Love Story appeared in the New York Times, May 2021 and she is an audio-documentary finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Contest hosted by the Missouri Review. Recent essays include A Musician Afraid of Sound published in The Atlantic, October 2015, and in national and international music publications—Musical America, Chamber Music America, Strings Magazine, The Brass Herald, and Strad Magazine among others. A contributing writer for the online classical music e-magazine Interlude.HK , she has penned over 300 feature articles about music and musicians.

Through her writing and musical performances, Janet creates restorative conversations, offers spiritual sustenance, and explores music’s life-bringing and healing power. She is currently at work on a memoir to those same ends.

She earned her master’s degree in music performance from Indiana University studying with Janos Starker and completed her MFA in creative writing from Hamline University St Paul, Minnesota.

The following is from her Artist Notes:

Today, ten years after leaving the Minnesota Orchestra, after a devastating hearing injury and enduring the difficult process of recovery, I find myself uniquely prepared for the trials of the last eighteen months. I have already re-invented myself as a writer; I have already lived through isolation and loneliness. If there’s a silver lining to 2020, it’s that we as a society have had a break from our noisy, hectic lives filled with too much sound; that we realize how many professions and businesses can be released from the rigors of in-person, 9:00-5:00 travel during rush hour; that our livelihoods may be malleable and adaptable. Perhaps we have learned to value the quiet and silence we’ve experienced that has allowed us to ruminate and dream. It’s certainly been better for the environment!

Through these troubling times we all have had to avoid loud gatherings, restaurants, sports events, and concerts. I will always protect my hearing. I know only too well how devastating hearing injury can be, which can impede interaction with others and participation in life. I hope my story will encourage others to do the same. 

Make sure to stick around after Horvath’s powerful work of memory to hear contest editor Bailey Boyd and I ruminate and exclaim over it in wonder. And now, “A Musician Who Can’t Tolerate Sound.”

Aud-cast 34 is on its way, so make sure your ears are on their toes. Thanks as always to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Just as a reminder, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! In addition, we have tons of exhilarating (and free!) creative content to read, listen to, and even watch on our website. Learn more at www.missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 31: Wendy Spitzer aka Felix Obelix

Hello and welcome to Aud-cast #31. We’re grateful you’re with us, and for this aud-cast, we are featuring “Pieces of Grief: Loss in a Pandemic” from Wendy Spitzler, aka Felix Obelix, the latest finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Audio Documentary. We want to note up top that the piece can be emotionally intense, and there are mentions of death and loss. Listener discretion is advised.

Wendy Spitzer, aka Felix Obelix, is an inquiry-based interdisciplinary artist with a diverse output that spans music composition and performance, visual and community artmaking, audio, research, and modes of participatory inquiry. Her projects often explore themes of time and memory and are executed collaboratively. She has a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) and a Master of Music in Creative Practice from Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK). After time spent in Prague and London, she now lives and makes art in central North Carolina. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @felixobelix and find out more on her website: felixobelix.com.

Artist notes:

“Pieces of Grief: Loss in a Pandemic” is the third segment of a seven-segment audio documentary on grief and loss that premiered online in October 2020. The piece integrates field recordings; anonymous voicemails from community members experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic; archival interviews from folks who survived the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic; and original music composed, performed, and recorded by Wendy Spitzer, also known under her artist moniker Felix Obelix. For the voicemail portions, she set up an anonymous hotline and asked the public to leave messages talking about their experiences with grief during the pandemic. Voices from these two global outbreaks, almost 100 years apart, sit next to each other: the listener is invited to compare and contrast these voices, as well as experience the collapse of the two tragedies across time. As the pandemic recedes, the piece also serves (and will serve into the future) as a kind of auditory time capsule of our months in limbo.

All seven segments and more information about the project can be found at: felixobelix.com/piecesofgrief

Stick around after the piece to hear contest editor Bailey Boyd and managing editor Marc McKee consider the piece, and weigh its artistry, its honoring of the spectrum of loss in the wake of the pandemic, and the optimism of such an artistic and humane gesture.

Thanks for being with us on Miller Aud-cast #31, featuring “Pieces of Grief: Loss in a Pandemic” from Wendy Spitzler, aka Felix Obelix.  Learn more about her and her project at felixobelix.com.  Miller Aud-cast 32 is on the way, so stay tuned. Thanks to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Finally, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! Learn more at missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 29

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast #29, featuring “The Perfect Husband,” by 2021 Miller Audio Prize humor finalist Marina Hatsopolous.

Marina Hatsopoulos is a recovering tech entrepreneur who lectures about entrepreneurial topics at MIT, Harvard, Brown and other universities. Her business articles and creative writing can be found at www.windystreet.com. Her creative writing has been published in Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary, Santa Monica Review, and numerous other literary journals. She was Founding CEO of Z Corporation, an early leader in 3D printing out of MIT and has served on public and private company boards. Her Tedx talk, “From the Ashes of Crisis Arises Opportunity,” is about the impact of startups on job creation, providing the opportunity for socioeconomic mobility and social impact. Her husband Walter Bornhorst supported this particular piece being published on condition that she not pressure him to go to Morocco.

Make sure you stick around for a brief conversation about the piece with managing editor Marc McKee and contest editor Bailey Boyd. And make sure you learn all you want about the author at the following social media handles:

www.instagram.com/marinahatsopoulos/
www.facebook.com/MarinaHatsopoulos/
www.linkedin.com/in/marinahatsopoulos/

Thanks for being with us on Miller Aud-cast #29, featuring “The Perfect Husband,” from humor finalist Marina Hatsopoulos. Keep a sharp ear out for Miller Aud-cast #30, coming soon. Thanks also to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize. Finally, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today! Learn more at missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 28

Welcome to Aud-cast #28—if it feels like we’ve been away awhile, that’s because we have. I’m Marc McKee, managing editor at the Missouri Review: hello again. We’re happy to be back, and make sure and look for the rest of the finalists for this year’s Miller Audio Prize as we move toward the last quarter of 2021 with a cautious if weary optimism. It’s truly an honor to be able to present the latest finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Poetry, AE Hines, with the stunning, complexly exhilarating poem “Bohemian Rhapsody, 1991.”

AE Hines (he/him) is a queer poet who grew up in rural North Carolina and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His poetry has been widely published in anthologies and literary journals including I-70 Review, Sycamore Review, Tar River Poetry, Atlanta Review and Crab Creek Review. A recent Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, he is winner of the Red Wheelbarrow Prize and was a finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Writing at Pacific University, and his debut collection Any Dumb Animal will be released from Main Street Rag in November 2021.

A special note: all October pre-orders are still being used as a fundraiser for the Trevor Project to prevent LGBTQ+ youth suicide, where some generous donors are matching $ for $ every book pre-sold before the November release. More info at www.aehines.net.

Keep an ear bent for Miller Aud-cast #29, coming soon. Thanks also to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize. Remember, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today!

Miller Aud-cast Episode 25

Hello everybody, we’re back with our 25th episode of the Miller Aud-cast. I continue to be Marc McKee, managing editor of the Missouri Review, and I’m pleased to be here with you, now, in the 4000th Tuesday to take place in the last two years. It’s an honor today to present the latest finalist in the Humor category for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize, “All My Visits to the GAP, in No Particular Order,” from Marissa Castrigno.

Marissa Castrigno lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she’s an MFA Candidate in Creative Nonfiction. She reads for Ecotone Magazine and serves as a contributing editor at Shenandoah. Her work has appeared in PANK, Kissing Dynamite, Memoir Mixtapes, Eater NY, and others.

Stay tuned after the piece for a conversation about it between me and contest editor Bailey Boyd.

Stay tuned for Miller Aud-cast #25, coming soon. Thanks also to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

Don’t forget: we’re accepting entries for the 31st Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, and those who submit during the first two weeks in August will be invited to a special virtual Zoom session with the editors later in August or September. Find out more details about the contest here.

Finally, TMR is open for submissions year-round, and we remain dedicated to discovering and publishing the best contemporary writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Be heard. Give us the opportunity to discover you: subscribe or submit your work today!  Learn more at missourireview.com.

Miller Aud-cast Episode 24

Hello and welcome to Miller Aud-cast, Episode 24. In this episode, we feature three poems from David Olimpio, a finalist for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize in Poetry.

David Olimpio grew up in Texas, and currently lives and writes in Philadelphia. He is the author of This Is Not a Confession (Awst Press, 2016) and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Atticus Review. You can find more about him at davidolimpio.com, including links to his writing and photography. He Tweets and Instagrams as @notsolinear.

From David:

This little triptych of poems sprang forth in quick succession during a period of intense sadness and transformation where I was shedding some old stuff to make way for some new. What all three poems have in common is the theme of divorce and the associated feelings of loss (of love, of life, of identity). One of the poems is about an abortion. Another is about perceptions of self around the concept of masculinity. The pieces are part of a larger collection I am building around these themes. An interesting side note is that each poem also draws inspiration from a particular Mad Men episode. Somehow that show feels deeply important to my life in a way I can’t adequately explain coherently. And maybe that’s what poetry is for: to adequately explain things incoherently.

I’ve never felt satisfied with just the writing of words on paper. I like to accompany text with sounds or images. I’ve long made “photopoems,” [link: davidolimpio.com/category/photoblog/] most of which are actually written by my dogs while I am sleeping, or otherwise unconscious, and then edited by me later. But a new interest of mine is working with audio and video, mixing the written word with those mediums. (Of course I’m kidding about the dogs — they’re also involved in the editing process.)

I tend to hear my poems as I write them, the inflection, the tone, the pauses. For me the aural quality of a poem isn’t an afterthought. It’s more integral to the way I conceive a poem, or even a piece of prose. I’m glad there are projects like the Miller Aud-Cast to showcase audio literary work. It’s really the preferred way I like to share my writing.

Instagram: @notsolinear
Twitter: @notsolinear
Medium: @davidolimpio
Website: davidolimpio.com

Much gratitude to David Olimpio for sharing his poems with us, and for the conversation they inspired.

Stay tuned for Miller Aud-cast #25, coming soon. We hope you’ve been enjoying the Aud-cast, and remember: if they’ve inspired you to record your own creative work, whether in poetry, prose, humor, or audio documentary, submissions are open now for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize. The deadline for this year’s contest was just extended to June 22. Learn all about it here. Thanks also to the Missouri Review contest editor, Bailey Boyd, and to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.