All the Things We Thought We'd Never Do by Claudia Savage

 Poet, fiction writer and publisher Josh Gaines

Poet, fiction writer and publisher Josh Gaines

People become poets for many reasons, but stage fright is not usually at the top of the list. When Josh Gaines was an Air Force Captain he had terrible stage fright. Horrendous. "I would almost be sick and I had to give generals reports on weapons. So, I thought of the most embarrassing thing I could do. I had these 3 poems. I began reading them several times a week in front of open mike audiences, and, one day, I thought, I could do better. I can write better poetry." So, Josh became a poet and a regular at the open mike he started attending in Oklahoma, and, then, once he left the military he helped organize and run more readings in North Carolina and, then, Chicago, culminating in a graduate degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a partnership and daughter, and a press, ThoughtCrime, where he supports the work of other writers and is supporting his desire for a better country. 

"I like to say I ditched a promising military career to write books, run a profitless press, and build blanket forts with my daughter. My biggest challenge in making work since having a kid has to do with alone time at the right time. I get up, make her lunch, make her breakfast, and my wife takes her to school on the way to work. Then it's my time to write, but even getting into that head space takes a couple of alone hours for me. Then I start to stress and by the time I get to writing, I only have an hour or two before I have to run by the post office to mail books out and then go pick up my daughter. I admit I kinda quit here and there, and then I'll get to a point where I become a far less happy human and a few hours of writing brings everything back in line."

Running a press and a household gives him joy, though, "My daughter inspires me. I have a character in a novel completely based on watching her learn our language. She's also braver than I ever was, and I look to that a lot, too.

 Josh and Ella Lorien

Josh and Ella Lorien

My daughter jumps into every day with her whole self, pass or fail, she's in it. How can anyone not be inspired by that gumption?

Josh's daughter comes by that gumption pretty naturally. Last April, sick of the fact that Trump protests didn't seem to do enough, Josh put out a call for the anthology Not My President. "I had never done an anthology. We got hundreds of submissions and thousands of pages at ThoughtCrime! I read them all. What I thought would be done in 3 months took 9. I was interested in the person who wrote it as much as the writing itself. I wanted to amplify the voices of those who hadn't been heard." The project has taken on a life of its own and even got the ACLU involved when a library in San Diego tried to ban it. Josh has been busy these past few weeks sending a copy to every member of Congress and the President as well. 

But even with all that work he's donating the profits to various charities. "I don't like to make money off of anybody's writing and I try to pay my writers, too." Buy your own copy of Not My President and, then, check out his latest Kickstarter video to support his Lorien Prize (named after his daughter) winners: Moon Woman by Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi and don't get your hopes up by Courtney Marie. 

 Josh, his wife Anna, and daughter Ella Lorien

Josh, his wife Anna, and daughter Ella Lorien

Who and what we talked about in this episode, besides Josh and his family:

Portland Leathergoods

Thoughtcrime Press

Ben Clark

Bill Farrell

Dith Pran

Sydney Schanberg

Talking Women's Ambition as the President Smacks His Gums During the State of the Union Address by Claudia Savage

 Robin Romm

Robin Romm

In our conversation with Robin Romm we discuss (as the antidote to Trump's State of the Union address): What does it mean for women to be ambitious? How is this idea different between men and women? As artists, what do we really have to complain about? Who are the gatekeepers? What is success? What is failure? Can you actually nurse twins while writing your novel? We tackle the hard stuff and leave nothing for the President. 

 Robin and Family

Robin and Family

"Ambition is about identity and things you want to master in the world. We want our daughters to live at the edge of their ability--intellectual and artistic--to be able to see what is there if they try really hard and make the most of their gifts."

"There is such a narrow road that women have to walk. You have to be beautiful and smile and look selfless and play your cards perfectly every time, which is not the same for [ambitious] men." 

Read and buy Robin's wonderful books here

 Robin, partner Don, and daughter Sylvie

Robin, partner Don, and daughter Sylvie

"Twins are crazy town! You are not working on your laptop while they just happen to stick on your boobs."

Topics talked about during the podcast:

Pam Houston

Ayana Mathis

Dr. Yael Schonbrun

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts

Jesmyn Ward

 Robin's writing space

Robin's writing space

 More of Robin's writing space

More of Robin's writing space

2017 in Review + Ice Cream + Beer + Parakeets by Claudia Savage

Claudia and John riff on 2017's art-making, crazy-household-making, artists collaborated with in the past year, and their best ice cream recommendations that allow you to still pay your rent. Also, a look ahead to the parent-artists who will appear on the podcast in 2018. Below, an exhausting (though not exhaustive)  list of links relating to our podcast banter!

 Claudia, River, and John summer 2017.

Claudia, River, and John summer 2017.

 Sketches for a composition of John's fusing the twelve-tone system with jazz riffs.

Sketches for a composition of John's fusing the twelve-tone system with jazz riffs.

 Pages (and pages) of drafts for Claudia's new book on the longest table in the world. 

Pages (and pages) of drafts for Claudia's new book on the longest table in the world. 

 Claudia holding her book,  Bruising Continents  and John holding his... horn... August 2017 (photo by Jane Portnoff)

Claudia holding her book, Bruising Continents and John holding his... horn... August 2017 (photo by Jane Portnoff)

A totally unrelated video of John "Shakin' it" in Mt. Scott park the first week of January 2018!

Finding Not Creating by Claudia Savage

Visual artist Howard Fonda goes deep about Romanticism, bird cages, Bukowski, and why the Governor can't be political. And, of course, we also discuss the philosophical influence children can have on art-making. Our conversation is a wild ride, complete with a six-pack, profanity, failure, and everything you'd expect in a graduate school seminar but never get!

 Howard Fonda on vacation

Howard Fonda on vacation

“I like the idea of finding not creating—creating has some kind of hubris to me, whereas there’s so much unknown out there just to find.”

 

Howard Fonda gives a tour of his studio in Episode 5 of Thick In The Throat, Honey's podcast                                 My Philosophy by KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions

"…that’s one of the things about parenting that’s worked out well for me philosophically, [the] constant opportunities to learn not just for my kids but for myself…"

 Howard's family

Howard's family

Outbuildings for People Like You! by Claudia Savage

In Episode 4 of the Thick in the Throat, Honey Podcast, John and Claudia talk with writer Margaret Malone about time, taxes, and tours, and how she and her filmmaker husband Brian Padian balance art, work, and family life in a two parent-artist household. We also talk about Margaret's community-building-quick-art-making SHARE and discuss the mythical outbuilding for artists!

 Margaret Malone

Margaret Malone

Her award-winning collection of short stories, People Like You, is available through Atelier26 Books and Amazon.

 Margaret with her husband Brian and their two children take some time to relax.

Margaret with her husband Brian and their two children take some time to relax.

The question is always: How do you do it? What’s the secret? The answer you want is it’s not that hard. But the real answer is it’s incredibly hard and really messy. It is always a win-lose. But if you are a creative person you can’t not do your work; you would be a diminishing version of yourself. There is no answer. You do it anyway. 

A quick tour of Margaret's writing space.

Who we talked about in this episode:

Margaret Malone

Brian Padian

Elizabeth Gilbert

Robert Altman   

Brenda Hillman

Cheryl Strayed

Kathleen Lane (SHARE)

Jim Brunberg (Mississippi Studios)

Want to study with Margaret? You can. Here and here.                                                                

Radiohead + Little Moments = Hot Partnership and a Rockin' Family by Claudia Savage

 Juniana Lanning playing drum set (photo by Chad Lanning)

Juniana Lanning playing drum set (photo by Chad Lanning)

In Episode 3 of the Thick in the Throat, Honey podcast, John and Claudia talk with the sound designer-electronic artist-improviser-composer-and badass mama Juniana Lanning about her artistic growth since having children. How Radiohead was the only thing she and her rock musician husband, Chad, had in common. Their label Fluff and Gravy Records. And why her first child had to learn to fall asleep to extreme noise.

 The Lanning family relaxes…for a second.

The Lanning family relaxes…for a second.

As with all our podcasts, we feature how artist parents actually make work in their homes or studios. Check out the video below for a special tour.

Juniana Lanning takes us around her home studio and makes some music.

You have to find those little moments in your chaotic family life to keep the fire burning. To keep it going. Those little moments are so important.

— Juniana Lanning

Music can be made with anything, according to Juniana Lanning, electronic musician and sound designer. Here's a favorite method of her children.
 Juniana singing with drum set.

Juniana singing with drum set.

Who we talked about in this episode:

Juniana Lanning’s sound design work

Seven Engines (with Kyle Bouchard)

Chad Lanning’s photography

Linda Austin

Doug Theriault

Kendall Core

The Flaming Lips

Radiohead

Iannis Xenakis

And, don’t forget to listen to the full Lanning family rendition of The Flaming Lips song, Do You Realize?, here.

The Ultimate Schedule (How Never Finding a Groove Can Actually Help You) by Claudia Savage

Every few weeks I remember brainstorming with John for the ultimate schedule!  This was going to do it. This would be the thing. I would write in the evenings after putting her to bed before the first feeding of the night. I would write in the mornings. I would go to the park to write. I would go to the library. I would stop stressing out so much and only write 4 days a week. Or 3. Or 2?

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Whatever you do, don’t say “parent” by Claudia Savage

Once we were hip. Really, really hip. We wore ironic sweaters and tight jeans and got our hair cut for fashion rather than function.

OK, we were never that hip. But, once, we tried.

(John was a radical musician who lived in an illegal loft in Brooklyn. His living space was often used as a film set. Claudia recited poems on sunbaked rocks in Colorado, in art galleries, at house concerts. She edited books. Once she was also a professional cook--so she loves feeding people.)

We met at an artist residency and promptly left our partners for each other. Our love story, while not original, was definitely hot. We made love. We made music. We wrote poetry. We drank bad wine and ate chocolate at 3am to fuel yet another “collaboration” session.

Then things changed.

We had a beautiful, challenging, wonderful daughter. She took away our sleep, our carousing, our ability to eat dinner without indigestion.

Yet, somehow, in the time since we’ve had her, we’ve been more productive and creative than ever. John’s made so many albums and played with so many people, we’ve lost track. Claudia has written two books, become an essayist and interviewer, and found another passion in teaching. Our duo, Thick in the Throat, Honey, instead of just being a side project that provided relief from incessant discussions about our kid, has become a space of deep play and the fuel that ignites our separate creative practices. As a bonus, when we perform, it reminds us of why we first fell for each other. 

Making art is not just a vocation for us. Just like raising our daughter, it is our lives.

Through weekly posts you’ll get a glimpse of how we, and other artists we know and admire, make art and keep inspired while raising children. We’ll reveal our challenges and attempted solutions. We’ll talk about our art-making practice. We’ll commiserate and inspire each other. Because making art is not just about sitting alone in a room pouring over a piece of paper, it is about what happens when you hang out with other people attempting to sit in a room and pour over a piece of paper. 

And even if you don’t have children and are struggling to make art in between your other obligations, we hope some of our ideas will allow you to live the kind of fulfilling life you deserve. Because we all deserve the chance to be creative and thrive.