How do today’s masters create their art? American Masters: Creative Spark presents narrative interviews that go in-depth with an iconic artist about the creation of a single work. Each episode offers a unique window into the world of art and the creative process of artists and cultural icons across a wide range of disciplines, from music and comedy to poetry and film.
Explore more at www.pbs.org/creativespark
Ling Ma on Imploding the Immigrant Narrative
Novelist Ling Ma doesn’t shy away from taking risks with her writing. Her 2018 debut novel, “Severance,” is an apocalyptic satire that won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction and squarely put her on the map as an exciting, off-beat new writer.
With her newest collection, “Bliss Montage,” Ma has turned her attention to the short story format. The collection is described as “eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home.”
In this episode, Ling Ma breaks down her creative process and inspiration behind “Peking Duck,” a short story from the collection. She details how she attempted to complicate and “implode” the immigrant narrative through her unique approach to this mother-daughter story.
After listening to the episode, you can read “Peking Duck” here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/07/11/peking-duck
Rena Priest Explores the Beauty of Childhood on "Young and Indigenous"
We think you’ll really enjoy this podcast from our friends over at Young and Indigenous, which amplifies indigenous knowledge, storytelling and history. In this episode of Young and Indigenous, Washington State Poet Laureate and award-winning author Rena Priest explores the beauty of childhood and the nurturing element of culture. Priest also recites some of her poems!
Rena Priest encourages future writers, especially fellow Lummi Nation members, to take the creative leap. In her words, “the world needs your voice, needs your story. You never know who is going to encounter it and whose life [your story] is going to change.”
Learn more about Young and Indigenous here: https://settingsunproductions.org/young-and-indigenous-podcast
Viet Thanh Nguyen on the Ghosts that Haunt our Cultural Past (Replay)
It’s been announced! Writer Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Sympathizer” (2015) is now getting the prestige TV treatment on HBO’s newly rebranded Max streaming service.
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we revisit our interview with Nguyen. In it, he talks about not just “The Sympathizer,” but about growing up in the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam, and how writing and reading helped him cope with its many challenges. He breaks down how his work takes on issues of cultural representation in American pop culture and literature.
“The Sympathizer” stars Hoa Xuande (“Cowboy Bebop”) as a spy for North Vietnam who becomes embedded in L.A.’s refugee community. The miniseries adaptation is described as “an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire about the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States.” The cast includes executive producer Robert Downey, Jr., Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le, Alan Trong, Vy Le, Ky Duyen and Sandra Oh.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Searches for Truth Through Acting
Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is one of the busiest people in Hollywood. His recent films include “Aquaman,” “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Ambulance,” and “Candyman.” But most recently, he made his Broadway debut in "Topdog/Underdog."
In this episode, Abdul-Mateen II gives a masterclass on his acting process. The graduate of the Yale School of Drama describes how he prepared for his critically acclaimed performance in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play. He reveals the physical and mental challenges of this work, which are ultimately in service of his pursuit of “absolute truth.”
Kelly Reichardt Breaks Down Her Filmmaking Process Behind "Showing Up"
In her eighth feature film, “Showing Up,” Kelly Reichardt takes pleasure in thinking about “life on the level outside of commerce.” Her films often explore working-class characters living life on the margins. Movies like “First Cow,” “Certain Women,” “Wendy and Lucy,” and “Old Joy” have established Reichardt as one of the most fiercely independent filmmakers working today.
In this episode, Reichardt discusses how inherently collaborative filmmaking can be, the pleasure she takes in documenting processes, the importance of art schools, and just how frequently André 3000 was playing the flute during production. She also shares some surprising thoughts about where her next film might take place (and it isn’t the Pacific Northwest).
“Showing Up” is in theaters this Friday, April 7th.
Jennifer Egan Writes to Experience a Life Outside Her Own
A compelling novel can transport us into worlds unknown. Novelist Jennifer Egan has mastered this inventiveness of fiction with her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "A Visit from the Goon Squad," and in her newest book,"The Candy House." In this episode, Egan breaks down her writing process behind "Lulu the Spy, 2032," a chapter from "The Candy House." She pulls from life experiences to deftly forge playful and imaginative stories that bend the formal limits of the novel. Ultimately, she reminds us why writing still matters, maybe more than ever before.
Traci Thomas from The Stacks Podcast sent me here!
I don’t listen to a lot of biography podcasts so this was a nice addition to my listening.
A series truly deserving of one’s time. Both entertaining & informative with an eclectic roster of interesting guests.
American Masters Podcasts
I Love Creative Spark! It's fascinating hearing the artists perspective and inner mind on how they create. Really adds dimension to the art itself. As an artist, I love to hear how others go through the process of creating. The interviewer and producer, Joe Skinner, adds very interesting bits of information that keep the interview upbeat and exciting!