In November 2019, I had the opportunity to discuss the desert and its influences on my personal and academic life. Not my first delve into the public humanities, but certainly the project with the largest audience, CBC Radio producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder and I spent the interview exploring how the desert lives in human imagination and pop culture, its spiritual and aesthetic appeal, and its many underrepresented inhabitants and histories.
The episode features two other guests, Alex Nava, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona, and John Beck, a professor of Literature at the University of Westminster and author of Dirty Wars: Landscape, Power and Waste in Western American Literature. To say the least, it was humbling to be included with such esteemed scholars.
My only wish was that our conversation about Tohono O'odham poet Ofelia Zepeda's collection Ocean Power (1995), and specifically her poem "Wind" had made it to the final cut. Zepeda's voice and relationship to the desert brings an important understanding of the arid landscape. Next time!
Here is the official link to the episode:
An amazing experience, and all of my gratitude to Matthew, who took a chance on this junior scholar.