10 episodes

Join authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) for author interviews, book club discussions, and immersive short stories — all celebrating fiction from some of today's most thrilling writers, with an emphasis on spotlighting underrepresented voices. (Photo credits: Vanessa German / Rayon Richards)
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

Ursa Short Fiction Ursa Story Company

    • Arts
    • 3.5 • 157 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

Join authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) for author interviews, book club discussions, and immersive short stories — all celebrating fiction from some of today's most thrilling writers, with an emphasis on spotlighting underrepresented voices. (Photo credits: Vanessa German / Rayon Richards)
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    The Life and Stories of Diane Oliver, Part Two (with Michael A. Gonzales)

    The Life and Stories of Diane Oliver, Part Two (with Michael A. Gonzales)

    Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton welcome writer Michael A. Gonzales for part two of our deep dive into the life and work of Diane Oliver, who published six short stories before her death at age 22. (Part one of our series is here.)
    Gonzales published an essay about Diane Oliver in The Bitter Southerner earlier this year, and he talks about his work digging into the archives to put a spotlight on Black authors who never got the recognition they deserved. His column for Catapult, The Blacklist, has shared stories about authors including Charlotte Carter, Julian Mayfield, Henry Dumas, and Darius James. 
    Get the full transcript.
    About the Author 
    Harlem native Michael A. Gonzales is a cultural critic/short story scribe who has written for The Hopkins Review, The Paris Review, Longreads, Wax Poetics and Soulhead.com. Gonzales writes true crime articles for Crimereads.com and wrote the series The Blacklist about out-of-print Black authors for Catapult. His fiction has appeared in Under the Thumb: Stories of Police Oppression edited by S.A. Cosby, Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Dead-End Jobs: A Hit Man Anthology edited by Andrew J. Rausch, Black Pulp edited by Gary Phillips and The Root. His latest short story "Really Gone" was published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Oxford American. 
    Episode Links and Reading List: 


    “The Short Stories and Too-Short Life of Diane Oliver” (Michael A. Gonzales, The Bitter Southerner, 2022)

    Ursa Short Fiction, Episode Nine: The Life and Stories of Diane Oliver, Part One



    “Mint Juleps Not Served Here” (Diane Oliver, Negro Digest, March 1967)


    The Blacklist essay series on out-of-print books from Black authors (Michael A. Gonzales, Catapult)


    Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980 (2019)



    “Beautiful Women, Ugly Scenes: On Novelist Nettie Jones and the Madness of ‘Fish Tales’” (Michael A. Gonzales, Longreads, 2019)

    More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw


    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton

    Support Future Episodes of Ursa Short Fiction
    Become a Member at ursastory.com/join.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 40 min
    The Life and Short Stories of Diane Oliver (Part One)

    The Life and Short Stories of Diane Oliver (Part One)

    Content advisory: This episode contains a mention of a racist slur.
    Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton's two-part book club discussion on the life and work of Diane Oliver, who published six short stories before her life was tragically cut short in May 1966 at the age of 22. 
    Oliver was just a month away from graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop when she was killed in a motorcycle accident in Iowa City, Iowa. 
    Philyaw and Walton first discovered Oliver’s stories from writer Michael A. Gonzales, who wrote an essay about Oliver for The Bitter Southerner. In part one of Ursa’s book club episode, they go in-depth on four of Oliver’s short stories: “Key to the City,” “Health Service,” “Traffic Jam,” and “Neighbors.”  
    Full episode transcript.
    Episode Links and Reading List: 


    The Short Stories and Too-Short Life of Diane Oliver (Michael A. Gonzales, The Bitter Southerner, 2022)


    “Key to the City” (Red Clay Reader II, 1965)


    “Health Service” (Negro Digest, November 1965)


    “Traffic Jam” (Negro Digest, July 1966)


    “Neighbors” (The Sewanee Review, 1966)


    Diane Oliver obituary (Jet, 1966)

    More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw


    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton

    Support Future Episodes of Ursa Short Fiction
    Become a Member at ursastory.com/join.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Member Exclusive: The Business of Publishing, Part One

    Member Exclusive: The Business of Publishing, Part One

    A special episode for Ursa Members. Thank you for supporting our show! Become a paid subscriber in Apple Podcasts to access this episode. Every membership comes with a 3-day free trial.

    On this Member Exclusive episode of Ursa Short Fiction, Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton offer a comprehensive guide to the business of publishing – from submitting short stories to literary magazines, to navigating rejection, and finding an agent.

    Deesha and Dawnie also share their own personal stories about the process, including working with editors and ultimately getting their books published. But before any of that, there’s the question of how a writer should think about the creative process vs. the business side of selling your work.

    Ask Us Anything
    Send Deesha and Dawnie your questions! Email us at hello@ursastory.com or leave us a voicemail: https://www.speakpipe.com/ursa

    Cleyvis Natera on ‘Fog,’ Staying True to Your Voice, and Embracing Short Stories as Play

    Cleyvis Natera on ‘Fog,’ Staying True to Your Voice, and Embracing Short Stories as Play

    Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton chat with author Cleyvis Natera, author of the new Ursa Original short story, “Fog,” and the recently published debut novel Neruda on the Park.
    Read the full transcript.
    About the Author 
    Cleyvis Natera is the author of the debut novel Neruda on the Park. She was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from New York University. She’s received honors from PEN America, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA). Her fiction, essays and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Review of Books, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, Alien Nation: 36 True Tales of Immigration, TIME, Gagosian Quarterly, The Washington Post, The Kenyon Review, Aster(ix) and Kweli Journal, among other publications. Cleyvis teaches creative writing to undergraduate and graduate students in New York City. She lives with her husband and two young children in Montclair, New Jersey.
    Episode Links and Reading List: 


    “Fog” (Ursa) 


    Neruda on the Park (2022)



    “Played or How I Failed at Becoming a Chapiadora” (Kweli Journal, 2019)


    In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd by Ana Menéndez (2002) 

    More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw


    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton

    Support Future Episodes of Ursa Short Fiction
    Become a Member at ursastory.com/join.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 54 min
    Story: 'Fog,' by Cleyvis Natera

    Story: 'Fog,' by Cleyvis Natera

    Content warning: explicit language, sex, depiction of violence.
    Author Cleyvis Natera debuts her original short story “Fog.” It’s the story of a worker at a Dominican resort who caters to high-end clients and must confront the choices he’s made to elevate his status and seek a different life for himself. 
    Read Along
    Listen to the story in your favorite podcast app, and read along at ursastory.com/fog. 
    Support Ursa
    Help us fund future episodes. Become a Member at ursastory.com/join.
    Story Credits
    “Fog” is edited by Dawnie Walton and performed by Alberto “Mojo” Peña, with music and sound design by Alexis Adimora, illustrations by Bex Glendining, and audio engineering by Deon Vozov (LA Voiceover). Ursa executive producers are Dawnie Walton and Mark Armstrong.  
    About the Author 
    Cleyvis Natera is the author of the debut novel Neruda on the Park. She was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from New York University. She’s received honors from PEN America, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA). Her fiction, essays and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Review of Books, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, Alien Nation: 36 True Tales of Immigration, TIME, Gagosian Quarterly, The Washington Post, The Kenyon Review, Aster(ix) and Kweli Journal, among other publications. Cleyvis teaches creative writing to undergraduate and graduate students in New York City. She lives with her husband and two young children in Montclair, New Jersey.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 51 min
    Chelsea T. Hicks on the Stories and Wazhazhe Language in 'A Calm & Normal Heart'

    Chelsea T. Hicks on the Stories and Wazhazhe Language in 'A Calm & Normal Heart'

    Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton dive into the short stories of the acclaimed new collection A Calm & Normal Heart, with its author, Chelsea T. Hicks. 
    Hicks is a member of the Osage Nation, and the collection, published in June 2022 by Unnamed Press, also incorporates her ancestral language of Wazhazhe ie (which translates to “Osage talk”). The collection opens with a poem in the orthography, along with the Latinized spelling and English translation.
    Read the full episode transcript.
    Support Future Episodes:
    Become a Member in Apple Podcasts or at ursastory.com/join.
    About Chelsea T. Hicks
    Chelsea T. Hicks is a model, author and current Tulsa Artist Fellow. She is a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation 2021 LIFT Awardee and her writing has been published in McSweeney’s, Yellow Medicine Review, the LA Review of Books, Indian Country Today, The Believer, The Audacity, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is a past Writing By Writers Fellow, a 2016 Wah-Zha-Zhi Woman Artist featured by the Osage Nation Museum, and a 2020 finalist for the Eliza So Fellowship for Native American women writers. 
    Her advocacy work has included recruiting with the Virginia Indian Pre-College Outreach Initiative (VIP-COI), Northern and Southern California Osage diaspora groups, and heritage language creative writing and revitalization workshops. She authored poetry for the sound art collection Onomatopoeias For Wrangell-St. Elias, funded by the Double Hoo Grant at the University of Virginia, where she was awarded the Peter & Phyllis Pruden scholarship for excellence in the English major as well as the University Achievement Award (2008-2012). The Ford Foundation awarded her a 2021 honorable mention for promotion of Indigenous-language creative writing. She is planning an Indigenous language creative writing Conference for November 2022 in Tulsa, funded by an Interchange art grant. 
    Episode Links and Reading List: 


    A Calm & Normal Heart (2022)


    Of Wazhazhe Land and Language: The Ongoing Project of Ancestral Work (Lit Hub)

    Osage writing system and orthography


    There There, by Tommy Orange (2019)


    Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino (1978)


    Night of the Living Rez, by Morgan Talty (2022)


    America Is Not the Heart, by Elaine Castillo (2019)


    Men We Reaped: A Memoir, by Jesmyn Ward (2014)


    Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (2019)


    Milk Blood Heat, by Dantiel W. Moniz (2021)


    Nobody's Magic, by Destiny O. Birdsong (2022)


    You Don't Know Us Negroes, by Zora Neale Hurston


    More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw


    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://ursastory.com/join

    • 1 hr 3 min

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5
157 Ratings

157 Ratings

snowstorm 09 ,

Nice and Flowy

This is honestly great to listen to while doing chores or work because it’s nice and flowy. It’s not to deep or traumatic. You get to imagine being part of the story and witnessing everything yourself. I highly recommend.

Natashalove4eve ,

Happy family review

Thank you for introducing me to this new piece of short fiction. I can’t wait to understand Scarlett for myself even more when I get to dive in!

Jeanmarck123444! ,

Happy family.

I enjoyed happy family. The story was similar to my story in a way. The authors writing style felt unique and refreshing. I was completely in tuned with the whole story and it explored some trauma that I even had to deal with it. To be honest this story was great.

You Might Also Like

TMI Productions
Mimi Lichtenstein
Sonoro | The Mash-Up Americans
C13Originals | Shining City Audio
Radiotopia
Brittany Luse, Eric Eddings, and Stitcher