Shout Out: Rachelle Cruz and "The Blood-Jet Writing Hour" Radio Show
“Poetry is the blood-jet. There is no stopping it.” --Sylvia Plath
I wanted to shout out Rachelle Cruz, whose work I was introduced to a couple of years ago at the San Francisco Litquake's boisterous Litcrawl, where she read for the API arts org, Kearny Street Workshop. I picked up her chapbook, honey may soon run out, because I was impressed with how concrete, meticulous, and emotionally well-considered her poems and her reading were. She's a young and energetic poet, a recent PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, and I am confident we'll be seeing all kinds of good work coming from her in years to come. Currently, she is the host of the weekly The Blood-Jet Writing Hour online radio show.
Why a radio show/podcast? What was your way into conducting the live interview?
I met Rafael Alvarado, poet and host of “Moe Green Poetry Discussion” at the Poetry Stage of the Los Angeles Festival of Books in spring 2009. I spent most of the two-day festival meeting writers and listening to the work of poets I admire: Jeffery McDaniel, Sesshu Foster, Barbara Hamby, among others. Rafael, always on the move for new writers to interview, invited me to be a guest on his show. Rafael later offered me a show on the Word Wide Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio, which presented me with the opportunity to speak with writers whose work I'd fallen in love with, in addition to emerging writers, some of whom were friends, others I'd never met and was curious about. “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” was born with Sylvia Plath's quote in mind: “Poetry is the blood-jet; there is no stopping it.” Although Plath's life ended prematurely, her work is alive and still beats with this blood. I loved the tension and immediacy that this quote brings forth. For me, poetry is sustainability, allowing this blood-jet to flow and spurt. Other than taking a journalism class in high school, I honestly had no experience in conducting live interviews, so it was mostly trial and error.
I think it's crucial to hear the sound of the poet's voice. Poetry is the oldest song; an oral tradition. On the show, I'll occasionally read along as the guest poet performs their work, but for the most part, I enjoy the music of their work. I discover new things when I simply listen. I love hearing the choices in tone and pacing a poet makes when performing their work. I hope for poetry lovers who live in areas where their favorite poets aren't visiting or in some cases where, unfortunately, poetry readings just aren't happening, online shows like “The Blood-Jet” are a resource. These shows can be conveniently streamed live from the comforts of a living room or office or anywhere with internet.
How do you select poets to feature? Who/what kind of poets interest you? Who are your influences (1) for hosting/radio/podcasting, and (2) for your own poetry/writing processes?
I select poets using any number of the following criteria:
I admire and am moved by their work and use “The Blood-Jet” as an excuse to let out my inner fan-girl. :)
I seek to showcase a diversity of poets (personal background, craft, style, education) who are underrepresented in the “mainstream” literary community. In addition, as a Filipina poet, I strive to bring as many writers of color, especially Asian American poets on the show. I try my best to invite newer, emerging writers who have experience in community spaces, such as the PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellows; Tara Betts, who is a Cave Canem Fellow; Ellen Hagan, who teaches youth in New York City through arts organizations, among many others.
I also invite poets who have been recommended by listeners of the show.
Can poetry community be created and maintained via radio?
Yes, I think poetry community can be created and maintained via radio. The Word Wide World Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio maintains close to ten shows varying in style and structure but they all focus on writing, poetry, and prose. WWWRN just celebrated its its third anniversary of poetry and prose on the radio. As far as “The Blood-Jet” goes, I try to stay in the loop with poets and writers who've been on the show by linking blogs, posting their events on “The Blood-Jet” blog, etc.
“The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” is an online radio show, hosted by poet and host Rachelle Cruz, where poets and writers share their work and discuss their craft, process, and the pulse that keeps them writing. It’s streamed live at www.blogtalkradio.com/onward on Friday mornings Pacific Standard Time.
Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, the Philippines, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. She earned a BA in ethnic studies from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from San Francisco State University. She is the author of the poetry collections Gravities of...