What can a single human being hope to achieve in one lifetime? How do we know our lives have mattered? Is it in the work we do, the people we touch, the love we allow ourselves to experience? To write about an authentic life, to write dangerously, is to strip away the artifice and the pretense and get to the bloody, sinewy truth of it all. The rhythm we chase is that of our own songline: a beating heart, a sideways glance, an empty seat at the dinner table. All reveal the same spaces of fragility and transformation that make us who we are. But what is left when the scales fall away and some honest fiction or another has birthed a new version of ourselves into the world? Well, Tom Spanbauer is.
Tom Spanbauer is the critically acclaimed author and founder of Dangerous Writing. As a writer he has explored issues of race, of sexual identity, of how we make a family for ourselves in order to surmount the limitations of the families into which we are born.
His five published novels, Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City Of Shy Hunters, Now Is The Hour, and I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, April 2014), are notable for their combination of a fresh and lyrical prose style with solid storytelling.
As a teacher his innovative approach combines close attention to language with a large-hearted openness to what he calls “the sore place”—that place within each of us that is the source for stories that no one else can tell. His introductory workshop is an underground legend among emerging writers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The community of writers that has formed around him is dedicated to the proposition that “Fiction is the lie that tells the truth truer.”
Tom lives, writes, and teaches in Portland, Oregon.
This episode is a love letter to a writer who has shown us how to stand strong in our own fragility. We hope you are encouraged to read Tom’s work and to dive deep into the fabric of your own becoming.
(This interview was originally recorded as part of the Mt. Hood Community College Mouths of Others Literary Reading series.)
Listen to the podcast at On the Block Radio.