The Lives of Writers

Dan O'Brien [Host: Erin Slaughter]

Episode Summary

Erin Slaughter interviews Dan O'Brien. Topics include: Sewanee, Scarsdale, formative trauma, community in theater, confessional poets, a creative marriage, confession and ethics, being disowned, Dan's new books A SURVIVOR'S NOTEBOOK, FROM SCARSDALE, and TRUE STORY, spiritualism, ghosts, the here and now, and more.

Episode Notes

On today's episode of The Lives of Writers, Erin Slaughter interviews Dan O'Brien.

Dan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, and essayist whose books include the poetry collection Our Cancers and the nonfiction work A Story That Happens. His newest poetry collection, A Survivor’s Notebook, is out today from Acre Books. And both his lyrical memoir From Scarsdale: A Childhood and a new collection of plays, True Story: A Trilogy, are out next week from Dalkey Archive Press.

Erin Slaughter is the author of the short story collection A Manual for How to Love Us and the poetry collections The Sorrow Festivaland I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Realize That You Are the Sun. She is the managing editor of Autofocus  and was formerly the editor/co-founder of literary journal and chapbook press The Hunger. Her writing has appeared in Lit Hub, Electric Literature, CRAFT, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, Split Lip Magazine, and elsewhere


PART ONE, topics include:

-- arriving once again at Sewanee

-- growing up in Scarsdale as a reader & writer

-- formative trauma and OCD

-- finding community in the theater

-- writing recent plays in poetic style

-- being disowned

-- confessional poetry and the impulse to write

-- the benefits of being a multi-genre writer

-- a background in comedy


PART TWO, topics include:

-- a creative marriage with the actress Jessica St. Clair

-- confession and ethics and deletion

-- growing up in an abusive household

-- Scarsdale as a psychological more than geographical place

-- knowing or not knowing if family is reading your work

-- ironically fulfilling a myth


PART THREE, topics include:

-- Dan's new poetry book A Survivor's Notebook

-- Dan's previous poetry book Our Cancers

-- loss of language and fragmentation

-- poetry and spiritualism

-- ghosts and the richness of belief

-- turning toward a deeper interest in the here and now

-- telling true stories


Podcast theme music provided by Mike Nagel, author of Duplex. Here's more of his project: Yeah Yeah Cool Cool.

The Lives of Writers is edited and produced by Michael Wheaton.