With topics ranging from Native Studies to rural America to race and ethnicity, the Redd Center’s Writing Westward Podcast features conversations with writers who focus on the American West. With a new episode released each month, the podcast has recently passed its one-year anniversary mark. Brenden Rensink, the Associate Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, producer and host of the podcast, began the podcast “as a way for the Redd Center to engage with more scholars and give more authors a platform to share their work.” The Redd Center invites scholars to give lectures on campus, but Rensink found that there are more people to spotlight than there is time in the semester. The Writing Westward Podcast allows the Redd Center to feature more scholars in a unique way that reaches additional audiences. Rensink also adds: “It would be dishonest if I claimed it wasn’t also an excuse for me, personally, to sit and read interesting books.”
And the books featured on the podcast are interesting. Rensink reports that he tries to “choose topics that will appeal to academics and the general public.” Many of these topics fall under the umbrella category of history, literature, and poetry. Because the podcast is multidisciplinary, the series as a whole features a wide variety of subfields: Native Studies, the environment, rural America, immigration, race and ethnicity, memoir, and more. The authors of these works are renowned in their particular fields. As Rensink explains, “Guests have included many prominent scholars whose books have won many awards.” One of these authors is John Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Journalist, who wrote The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the American West. Another one of these authors is Tacey M. Atsitty, writer of Rain Scald: Poems, and recipient of multiple creative writing and poetry awards.
In addition to compelling topics and authors, a casual conversational style is a distinguishing characteristic of the podcast. Rensink says, “One of my guiding principles is to host a loose conversation that is flexible and goes where it will. Rather than stock Q&A, I like to allow us to wander. I think this makes for a more engaging listen.” Rensink reports that listeners’ response to the podcast has been “very positive,” and the Redd Center is continuing to work on attracting more and more listeners.
In the introduction to each episode, Rensink states that the episodes are meant to “inspire you to learn more about the North American West as a region as well as its peoples and environments, histories, and literature, and so forth” and to “provoke as many questions as they provide answers.” Join in on the conversations about the North American West and gain valuable insights and discoveries at http://www.writingwestward.org.