In this episode, we first pay homage to Toni Morrison with a short excerpt from the perfect SULA, in honor of The Free Black Women’s Library. Because Morrison shaped American literature, one reading isn’t enough — so we also gravitate and catapult to Vickie Vértiz’s poem, ONLY WE MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS JUST TO DESTROY THEM.
In this episode, we read from The Summer I Married Fletcher Greel, the first novel from Suzanne Kingsbury, the founder of Gateless Writing. We sink into the heat of a Mississippi summer. We get to hear the final notes of the symphony of a novel — the terrible and tender resolution of a dark and passionate story.
In this episode, we splash around in the intersection of magic, music, and luscious language. Poet Blake Edwards found the podcast through a Goodreads.com board and asked if we’d like to read from his melodic, mythic Strange Diary Days. Yes! Being loving and discerning readers for each other — what an honor and mutual gift.
In this episode, holy moley. We read one of the most intimate, transformative passages from AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones. How do you write about two people in bed? How do you bring in their pasts and their desires and their fears? How do you do all that and make it both sexy and safe (and sad and unknowable)? You learn from Tayari Jones.
In this episode, we get to learn craft from an absolute master — Laura Belgray, professional writer and co-founder of Talking Shrimpand co-creator with Marie Forleo of The Copy Cure. Her emails to her list are expertly structured, generous, smart, full of teaching and jokes, iconoclastic, unexpected, funny. Every one, a masterclass. Here, we read one about her dad.
In this episode, we land in London, 1988, in THE MUSIC SHOP by Rachel Joyce. We meet on a ragged street, in a vinyl record shop owned by Frank, who can match a person with the music she most needs to hear. Frank and his old, good friend Father Anthony eat eggs and listen to jazz, and Frank wavers into in love. To fall in love! What a lark! What a terrible thing!
In this episode, we go through the portal that is SOMEWHERE IN A TOWN YOU NEVER KNEW EXISTED SOMEWHERE by Nina Hart. We come into a world of witches, dolls rising from the grave, firebombs, and popcorn. We see a masterful writing craft that can hold sexual violence and passionate, blessedly bubbling-ly funny reclamation and wild divine feminine rising.
In this episode, we fall into poetry with “Majorca, May 1936” from A HISTORY OF THE CETACEAN AMERICAN DIASPORA by Jenna Le. Falling is what it feels like to meet a poem for the first time, and to listen for its power: you have to surrender to and embrace the work at the same time. In this headiest of Gateless listening, we meet the poet Yeats, and we meet Margo Ruddock, and a woman becomes the earth.
In this episode, we read three pages from TO A MOUNTAIN IN TIBET by Colin Thubron. We drop into the narrator on he world’s holiest mountain, knowing nothing about what happened, or what is to come. The craft and the power rise with odd freedom. We see a shape of grief, we lurch backwards into lost history, we stop moving, far away from home.
In this episode, we read the lyrics of WEDDING SONG, from the musical HADESTOWN by Anais Mitchell. We get to discover a question, a dare, a seduction, a reckless hope, promises, love. It’s an experiment of an episode, our own small Gateless Writing-inspired dare — a live studio audience, reading words meant for music, not knowing how it’ll turn out or what happens next.
My family painted one living room wall in three shades of blue. It looks like the sky, and the ocean, and when you look at it you can fly or sail, or sort of disappear into the blue movement holding you, timeless, the spitting rain and traffic kept outside. Reading SONNY’s BLUES is like that, but dimensionally better, stronger, bigger.
In this episode, we head up to the farm for E.B. White’s DEATH OF A PIG to learn that a piece can be quiet. It can be reserved. It can appear diffident, even, and yet roil with passion and grief, and the vile delight of a dog named Fred. A piece can be 72 years old and still keep pithy company with you on the porch.
Can you imagine hopping from one star to another, and seeing the threads that connect each to each, across time? Yeah, I can’t either. But then we come to FIGURING, Maria Popova’s unclassifiable collection of biographies, exploration of love, and search for truth. She shoots the moon and hits the Andromeda galaxy, seeing everything.
You know how Eloise, from the book ELOISE, says, often, “Ooooooooooooo I absolutely love room service”? THAT is how I feel about THE DARK IS RISING. In this reading, we meet protagonist and near-birthday boy, Will, and his cranky, rollicking family, and several frightened rabbits. We wish for snow.