195 episodes

Rolf Potts veers off-topic in this unique series of conversations with experts, public figures, and intriguing people.

Deviate with Rolf Potts Rolf Potts

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 139 Ratings

Rolf Potts veers off-topic in this unique series of conversations with experts, public figures, and intriguing people.

    Seeking nuances at home and abroad

    Seeking nuances at home and abroad

    “I think sometimes as travel writers our most important job is to be a listener -- to listen to the stories that people are telling each other in a place.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Ernest talk about why home is such an important place in one's life, even when one travels to more far-flung places (3:00); why the vagabonding ethos begins with the willingness to give oneself permission to travel in life, and how Rolf's new book, The Vagabond's Way, furthers the vagabonding ethos in a daily-reading format (15:00); the difficulty of figuring out which place in the world is your "favorite," and how food becomes a part of one's iconic travel memories (32:00); and why it helps to be confident and "ride tall in the saddle" if you sometimes feel out of place as a traveler (41:00).

    Ernest White II (@ernestwhiteii) is a storyteller, explorer, producer, and host of the television travel series Fly Brother, now in its second season on PBS and Create TV. Check out his subscription-based membership community, Fly Brother & Friends, which promotes travel and personal transformation.

    Ernest will moderate Rolf's virtual launch event for The Vagabond's Way at 5pm PT on October 4th, 2022.

    Notable Links:

    TV host Ernest White II (Deviate episode two)
    "Pandemic love" Deviate episode
    Deviate episode with filmmaker Rod Pocowatchit
    Deviate episode with baseball historian Phil S. Dixon
    Kansas City Monarchs (Negro Leagues baseball team)
    Gordon Parks (Kansas-born photographer and filmmaker)
    Nicodemus, Kansas (town settled by African Americans)
    Lindsborg, Kansas (Swedish-American town in Kansas)
    Zacatecas (state in Mexico)
    Van life before #VanLife (Deviate episode)
    Expat life in Korea (Deviate episode)
    Commonplace book (method of compiling knowledge)
    The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday (book)
    Matsuo Bashō (medieval Japanese poet and traveler)
    Wenamun (ancient Egyptian traveler)
    Muhammad Ali (boxer)
    Code-switching (situational linguistic alternation)



    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 47 min
    Working in Antarctica

    Working in Antarctica

    “One thing we like to say [in Antarctica] is that nothing on the continent can kill you, except for the entire continent.”  –Karen Pszonka

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Karen talk about how Karen first got a job in Antarctica (1:40); what weather is like during the Antarctic winter, the research being done at McMurdo, and a penguin named "Buddy" (8:00); what the landscape working conditions, and living conditions are like in Antartica (24:00); what community life is like among the people who live and work in Antarctica (42:15); and the best and worst aspects of working in Antarctica, and how one might go about applying for a job there (1:02:00).

    Karen Pszonka (@zonks) works as support staff for the United States Antarctic Program's science research at McMurdo Station.

    Notable Links:

    Ice Bound, by Dr. Jerri Nielsen (book)
    Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica, by Sara Wheeler (book)
    Doomsday Glacier (Antarctic glacier)
    Europa (moon of the planet Jupiter)
    IceCube (neutrino observatory at the South Pole)
    Sea spider (marine arthropod)
    Ob tube (research instrument)
    Sea angel (type of sea slug)
    Royal Society Range (mountain range in Antarctica)
    Hut Point (peninsula in Antarctica)
    Medevac (medical evacuation)
    Manhauling (human-powered sledges)
    The Nutcracker (ballet)
    Skua (type of bird)
    U.S. Antarctic Program job opportunities

    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Finding ways to tell your story

    Finding ways to tell your story

    “I told him, 'You didn't have a long, lucrative NBA career, but that doesn't make you a failure. Yet if you let other people tell your story, that's how you're going to be depicted.”  –Dr. Kevin Harrison

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Kevin talk about how Kevin started writing what he calls "smut novels," how he sold them at the grassroots level, and how people reacted to them (3:30); what it's like to represent lesser-known places like Wichita in urban fiction and other writing, and how Kevin came to co-write NBA player Korleone Young's book (20:00); and the way Kevin's music is another form of storytelling that draws on specific experiences and places (29:30).

    Dr. Kevin Harrison is a writer, musician, and assistant teaching professor at Wichita State University. He is the author of Cameron Banks: The Reality Show, and co-author of One and Done: The Korleone Young Story.

    Notable Links:

    Urban fiction (literary genre)
    Kaye-Monk-Morgan on Deviate
    Korleone Young (basketball player)
    Zane (erotic fiction author)
    Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens novel)
    Iceberg Slim (writer and former pimp)
    Dolemite (Rudy May Moore film)
    Gordon Parks (Kansas-born photographer and filmmaker)
    She's Gotta Have It (1986 Spike Lee film)
    Selena Montgomery (pen name of politician Stacey Abrams)
    Barry Sanders (football player)
    Curtis McClinton (football player)
    The Forgotten Phenom, by Jonathan Abrams (article)
    LeBron James (basketball player)
    Hot Water Cornbread (Kevin Harrison song)



    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 37 min
    Monastery hospitality on Syria's backpacker trail

    Monastery hospitality on Syria's backpacker trail

    “I talked as much about the National Basketball Association in Syria as I did about politics. Syrians felt so global and interested in everything. As a young backpacker, I don't know that I appreciated the historical moment that I was in.”  –Rolf Potts

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Shaun talk about how they first came to know of Father Paolo and Deir Mar Musa monastery in Syria (3:00); the warm and hospitable experience of traveling in other parts of the country (10:00); Father Paolo's "interfaith dialogue" initiatives at Deir Mar Musa  (18:30); what happened to Father Paolo after the Syrian government cracked down on dissent and protest in 2011 (29:00); and how Father Paolo's monastery fostered interfaith dialogue over debate, and what his legacy is in Syria (43:00).

    Shaun O'Neill is the author of A Church of Islam: The Syrian Calling of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio.

    Notable Links:

    The strangers we meet on the road (Deviate episode)
    Paolo Dall'Oglio (Italian priest and peace activist)
    Deir Mar Musa (Christian monastery in Syria)
    2011 Syrian uprising (phase of the Arab Spring)
    Sufism (mystic Islamic practice)
    Neuromancer, by William Gibson (novel)
    Tahrir Square (public area in Cairo)
    Hafez al-Assad (Syrian president from 1971-2000)
    Kurdish Syria (northeast part of the country)
    Alawites (ethnoreligious group)
    Interfaith dialogue (interaction between religious traditions)
    Desert Fathers (early Christian monks)
    Free Syrian Army (civil war faction)
    Daesh (militant Islamists in Syria and Iraq)
    Pope John Paul II (Catholic leader)
    Of Gods and Men (2010 film)
    Frans van der Lugt (Dutch priest killed in Syria)
    Syncretism (combining of different beliefs)

    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 47 min
    How to write a novel

    How to write a novel

    “The noun part of "writer" seems to require outside validation, but the verb part of it -- "writing" -- is something you're either doing or you're not.”  –Matt Bell

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Matt talk about the importance of creative persistence and obsession (1:45); the importance of maintaining creative discipline and keeping concrete track of your progress (8:00); "swooper" versus "basher" writers, and approaches to revision (14:00); the importance of place to narrative, and its role in research (21:15); how point-of-view affects a narrative (30:00); the important of "inciting incidents" and other techniques of narrative structure (38:00); strategies for getting "unstuck" in a narrative (42:30); and counterintuitive strategies for revising a creative work (52:00).

    Novelist Matt Bell (@mdbell79) is the author of several books, including, most recently, Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts.

    Notable Links:

    National Novel Writing Month (creative writing event)
    Lauren Groff (novelist)
    IKEA (ready-to-assemble furniture)
    Anne Lamott (author)
    Kurt Vonnegut (author)
    Iceberg theory (writing technique)
    Appleseed (novel by Matt Bell)
    Scandinavian noir (genre of crime fiction)
    William Inge (playwright)
    Orpheus and Eurydice (Greek legend)
    Point of view (narrative mode)
    Graham Greene (novelist and travel writer)
    Poetics (work of dramatic theory by Aristotle)
    Amy Tan (author)

    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Travel as self-reinvention

    Travel as self-reinvention

    “Travel imparts a liquid language whose sole property is the flow of questions.”  –Marcia DeSanctis

    In this episode of Deviate, Rolf and Marcia talk about what it was like to work as a TV producer for Barbara Walters (1:30); how she made the decision to transition into prose writing, and how a sense of curiosity and abandon can inspire travel and travel writing (6:00); how we all change as travelers over the course of a lifetime (13:00); the way the things we bring home from our travels shape our memories of places (21:30); and how travel is a way to reinvent oneself (30:00).

    Marcia DeSanctis (marciadesanctis1) is a Contributing Writer for Travel + Leisure. Her 2022 essay collection is entitled A Hard Place to Leave: Stories from a Restless Life.

    Notable Links:

    Barbara Walters (American TV host)
    Muammar Gaddafi (Libyan revolutionary)
    The Millions (online literary magazine)
    Souvenir, book by Rolf Potts (book)
    Alexander Pushkin (Russian poet)
    Kievan Rus' (medieval state)
    Leningrad (former name of St. Petersburg)
    Trans–Mongolian Railway (Asian train route)
    A&E Biography (TV program)

    The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

    Note: We don’t host a “comments” section, but we’re happy to hear your questions and insights via email, at deviate@rolfpotts.com.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
139 Ratings

139 Ratings

A Real Mensch ,

Authentic, nuanced conversations (and more)

The simple production, authentic tone, and nuanced conversations is what keeps me listening.

divebookreader ,

Great podcast

Look forward to each episode.

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Rolf, host of the podcast, highlights all aspects of being creative, impacting the world around you, and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

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