Selection of recent interviews Julián Esteban Torres López conducted.
When Irma Herrera gives her name its correct Spanish pronunciation, some assume she’s not a real American. Her play, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?, is one woman’s journey from a small segregated South Texas town to California’s multicultural mecca. In this wide-ranging interview, we explore her Chicana identity, colorism, linguistic isolation, cultural hybridity, class migration, her social justice work, how her play is relevant to current events, and her transition into becoming a playwright.
I speak with filmmaker Colette Ghunim about her documentary, Traces of Home, which tells the story of what happens when we as first-generation Americans go back to our roots to find out how where we come from shapes our identity. Through Traces of Home, she tells her own personal story. She’s half Mexican and half Palestinian and both her parents were forced to leave their homes as children, and they both never returned since then. So through her film, they back to Mexico and Palestine to try to find the original houses and to talk about why people are leaving and immigrating and why refugees are leaving as well, during a time when we need to hear it the most.
What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? Mireya S. Vela is that woman. Vela is a Mexican-American creative nonfiction writer, storyteller, and artist in Los Angeles. In these two long-form interviews, we discuss her art, creative nonfiction, social justice, motherhood, womanhood, systemic traumas, being marginalized in the United States, and her new book, Vestiges of Courage: Collected Essays.
Yaldaz Sadakova is a writer and journalist in Toronto and the creator of Foreignish, a blog for long-form memoir stories about immigration. Sadakova moved to Toronto in 2013. Before that, she lived in Brussels, Sofia, and New York. Photography and mindfulness are her other passions. We speak at length about some of the things she finds most meaningful: belonging, immigration, creative writing, memoir writing, introversion, mindfulness (including kundalini), and more.
I speak with Ruben Quesada, founder of the Latinx Writers Caucus, to discuss what Latinx means to him, why he felt the need to create the Latinx Writers Caucus, advice he would give Latinx writers, Latinx voices and the industry, and more.
We take you into the world of a Burmese woman’s quest to piece together the fragments of her identity as Su Su Maung. We also learn about how that quest led her to found the Myanmar-based psychological consulting firm, Citta Consultancy. Citta helps empower the people of Myanmar with social and emotional intelligence so they can heal, transform, and grow to reach their fullest potential and contribute to the development of their country.
Do the stereotypes about chess and chess players have any validity at all? Through the eyes of John Donaldson (International Master and chess writer, journalist, coach, and historian) we get a behind-the-scenes look at the most popular game of all time to see if chess really does transcend language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background. We also get some interesting anecdotes about Bobby Fischer from his biographer.
Conversation with Dutch misfit turned journalist Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports about being a foreign correspondent, the roots of Colombia’s armed conflict, the role of journalism, and what humbles him about the land of El Dorado. His do-it-yourself, punk, anti-institution personality and critiques of conventions have made him both a controversial figure and a man with a growing cult following.
Leah Whetten-Goldstein joins me to talk about her experience being adopted from China into a white, Jewish family in North Carolina. We discuss side-effects, critiques, misunderstandings, and assumptions surrounding transracial adoption, as well as the beauty of being in a mixed-race family. We get a glimpse into Whetten-Goldstein’s struggle to find an identity growing up in a predominantly white community as an adoptee, and she shares the wisdom she’s gathered along the way.
Journalist Nicole Zelniker, author of Mixed, takes us on personal journeys to help us glimpse into overlooked worlds so we can more fully grasp what it means to be mixed. Zelniker spoke to dozens of mixed-race families and individuals, as well as experts in the field, about their own experiences, with the hope to fill a gap in the very important conversation about race in the US today.
Minimalism is intentionally living with only the things you really need. Minimalists maintain that there are benefits to minimalist living, like reduced anxiety, lower expenses, increased productivity, and living a more fulfilling life. But not all minimalists go so far as to reduce their possessions to live out of a van … for years … intentionally. I speak with author David Soto Jr., one such individual, to better glimpse into van life minimalism.
Why is it so hard to change people’s minds and behaviors with new facts? We explore this question through pediatrics. In 2015, after a landmark medical study proved that the early inclusion of peanut in the diet of infants prevents peanut allergy, Ron Sunog, MD, set out to develop a great first peanut food for infants. When most physicians and parents did not embrace this important new information, Dr. Sunog was determined to understand why. Dr. Sunog joins me to discuss his new book, Eat The Eight: Preventing Food Allergy with Food and the Imperfect Art of Medicine.
Born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, John Z. Guzlowski came to the US with his family as a displaced person in 1951. In much of his work, Guzlowski remembers and honors the experiences and ultimate strength of these voiceless survivors. Over a writing career that spans more than 40 years, Guzlowski has amassed a significant body of published work in a wide range of genres: poetry, prose, literary criticism, reviews, fiction, and nonfiction.
Conversation with recovering sportswriter and emerging memoirist, Jim Cavan, about the industry, the craft, and how a rare cancer has affected his family. Cavan’s work has appeared at Catapult, ESPN.com, SI.com, The Cauldron, Grantland, SB Nation, Narratively, Eeephus, and the New York Times, among others. He’s currently working on a book, tentatively titled When You Rise: A Memoir of Love and Loss. He lives in Maine with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Richa Pokhrel is a nonprofit professional. She is originally from Nepal. Her work has been featured in Duende, LA Lit, and Wendy Angulo Productions. In her free time, she likes to read, cook, hike with her dog and husband, and make up stories. She also edits Nepali Chhori, a blog dedicated to talking about issues affecting Nepali women, such as internal struggles regarding identity, cultural barriers, independence, living abroad, and being a Nepali woman in today’s world.
Heidi Harris is a self-taught musician and vocalist whose creative practice is based on an exploration and intermingling of traditional and non-traditional sound sources. A child of New Weird America, New Hampshire-based Harris is known for coloring outside the margins. Let’s put our feet on the ground with them red heels on and let’s go and row … row into dreams, comforting haunts, and sensations of being young or of some psychedelic, foreign place with Harris as our tour guide in this two-part series of interviews.