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Award-winning novelist Sonja Mongar chats with Darlyn about her novel, Two Spoons of Bitter, and explains why she always travels with a harmonica in her pocket. Support the show
Laughing comes easily for this husband and wife creative team, who founded the LOL JAX FILM FESTIVAL in 2016 and more recently took over as Jacksonville city producers for the 48 Hour Film Project. But the work they're doing is serious business. Running film festivals, while both working full-time jobs, producing a vlog, and making time to be a couple, is hard work, but they wouldn't have it any other way. Although neither is a Jacksonville native, the couple met here and became high school sweethearts. They stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass to talk about living their best lives, and share their excitement about Jacksonville's active and growing film community. Support the show
Ben Atkinson grew up in western Pennsylvania and currently resides in Jacksonville, Fla., with his wife and two young children. A poet with a PhD in wildlife ecology and conservation, he struggled to strike a balance between his scientific research and artistic pursuits. As a young father and husband, he set aside his passion for poetry for more than a decade, under the mistaken belief that he had to choose between a career in science and one in the arts. He rediscovered his poetic voice three years ago, and after reading his debut collection, Spider Lightning, you will be glad that he did. Ben stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass to kick off our second season, share a little poetry, and talk about his evolution as a polymath. Support the show
"I was living in Key West, and there were a lot of writers there. When I decided maybe I wanted to become a writer, I didn't know anything about writing, so I asked my neighbor, Tom (Tennessee) Williams, for his advice . . . He said, well, 'Just write.'" So begins a fascinating hour with Sharon Y. Cobb, an accomplished screenwriter, former UNF professor, and generous mentor, whose career has taken her from Jacksonville to Key West, to Hollywood, and back to Jacksonville.  After "retiring" from the advertising business to become an artist in Key West at 31, she took old Tom's advice and reinvented herself as a successful screenwriter. She is a member of the prestigious Screen Writers Guild of America - West, and an active member of JAX Film Bar Mondays, a group of more than 1,200 local filmmakers who gather weekly at various watering holes to talk shop, and make movies, and has written innumerable short feature scripts for local productions. Cobb, whose accomplishments are too numerous to mention here, stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass to talk about Jacksonville's surprisingly prolific film scene, and swap stories about her writing life, and the movie biz. Support the show (
Emily K. Michael is a blind poet, musician, and writing instructor from Jacksonville, FL. Since 2016, she has worked as the associate poetry editor for Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wordgathering, The Hopper, Artemis Journal, The South Carolina Review, The Deaf Poets Society, Nine Mile Magazine, Bridge Eight, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog, Barriers and Belonging, and AWP Writer’s Notebook. Her first chapbook manuscript Natural Compliance won Honorable Mention in The Hopper’s 2016 Prize for Young Poets. Her first chapbook, Neoteny is available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press.Emily’s work centers on ecology, disability, and music. She develops grammar workshops for multilingual learners and delivers poetry workshops for writers at all levels. She regularly reads at Jax By Jax, a yearly literary festival celebrating Jacksonville writers. Emily is passionate about grammar, singing, birding, and guide dogs. Find more of her work at the show
A forbidden love affair, a suggestion of magical realism, a collective of village women lifting themselves out of poverty, and a family of Bengal tigers struggling to survive; Katy Yocom's debut novel, Three Ways to Disappear transports readers to India, where they are surrounded by the sights, the smells, the sounds, and amazing people. A lot has been written about the India of cities and slums. Yocom writes about rural India, where villagers compete with endangered tigers for food and water. Yocom stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass during the Jacksonville leg of her book tour, to talk about the growing market for environmental fiction, and how her novel was inspired by a litter of cubs at the Louisville Zoo. Katy Yocom's books are available at the show (
New Orleans novelist Victor Hess has been a lot of things, but he only came to writing recently. His first novel, Jesse Sings, was a finalist in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing competition in 2015. It was also recognized as a finalist in the Fiction: Inspirational category of the 2018 Best Book Awards sponsored by American Book Fest. His short stories received Honorable Mention in a recent Glimmer Train competition and one made the shortlist for the 2017 Faulkner competition. He is currently working on a third novel featuring Jesse Hall, the main character of his first two books. A successful business executive, he has been an Army bomb disposal Instructor, and, for decades, has taught Bible study for children and adults.  He lives in Slidell, Louisiana with his wife and dog. Vic stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass on his way home from a book signing in South Carolina to talk about the day he was bitten by the writing bug and how he has managed to lead an almost normal life despite this incurable, and devastating affliction. Victor's books are available here: the show
A coach wouldn't be much good if they always agreed with you. Lynn Skapyak Harlin has been punching writers in the face to make them better since 2001. She likes to talk about how "mean" she is, but that's not how workshop participants describe her. And that's certainly not why they keep coming back, year after year. Jacksonville's favorite literary curmudgeon, The Shantyboat Lady, ties the ghost of her dear, departed shantyboat up to the dock at River of Grass, for an hour of poetry and tough talk from a tender heart.Support the show
Sometimes it's hard to know who your friends are, even when there aren't any cultural barriers to overcome. In his work, Sohrab Homi Fracis documents his experience as an Indian immigrant adapting to American culture—the good, the bad, and the ugly—in the 1980s. Fracis, who now calls Jacksonville home, has gone on to gain recognition for his excellent work, but he walks through life with a perspective inextricably tied to his Asian roots, and the hostility of some Americans to anyone who looks or speaks differently than them.Fracis was the first Asian author to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award, which was for his 2001 collection, Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America. The book was also a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction. A novella Adaptation of Ticket to Minto was a finalist in Screencraft’s Cinematic Story Contest.Fracis’s 2017 novel, Go Home, was a finalist in the International Book Awards: Multicultural Fiction category, and it brought him the South Asian Literary Association's Distinguished Achievement Award. The novel was shortlisted by Stanford University for the 2018 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. His novel excerpt, “Distant Vision,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.Support the show (
Hope McMath grew up in Jacksonville, so being named executive director of The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens was a dream come true. Her departure, in 2016, was a gut-wrenching inflection point. Opening her own gallery took even more courage. Anyone who has never been inside Yellow House, at 577 King Street, in the CoRK Arts District, need look no further than the backyard. The psychedelic school bus with Rosa Parks at the wheel tells passersby everything that McMath's Yellow House is about. The space, which doubles as her personal studio, was created to showcase provocative work on topics including racial and gender equity, human rights and environmental sustainability—controversial subjects that were often hard for her to sell to a board of directors. The Yellow House has become a haven for local artists and artistic collaborators of all ages and media, who cite the venue's reputation as a safe and welcoming space. If that's not your jam, however,  then be advised: Hope is a weapon.Support the show
Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams is a poet and essayist, teaching artist, and narrative practitioner in applied behavioral science. A passionate mixed-media artist, she uses collage and fiber arts to express stories. Her work spans a wide range of corporate and private projects, but her passion is working with young African American women to help them find their voices and develop their own transformative narrative. She stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass to talk about how writing and storytelling can change lives, communities, and even the world.Support the show (
Filmmaker, director, writer, actor—Fred Zara lives in Orlando, but stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass while he was in Jacksonville for the Southeast Regional Film Festival, where his latest film, The Suicide of James Rider, was being screened.Fred grew up in New Jersey, where, at 15, he got kicked out of the 9th grade for fighting with a teacher. He played drums in a Trenton-based punk band under the name of Fred Fatal – a wild ride he documented twenty years later in his award-winning documentary, Average Community.  So how does a 15-year-old high school dropout with anger issues go from riding around with friends to meet their crack dealer in New Jersey to an award-winning filmmaker in Florida?Learn more about Fred and his work at the show (
Playwright, musician, professor, Jenn Chase’s creative journey has taken her from her childhood home in Cape Cod to Dakar, Senegal, before bringing her here to us in Jacksonville where she works out of her studio in the CoRK Arts District, and as a professor teaching writing and humanities at FSCJ. A free spirit, who has failed as spectacularly as she has succeeded, and persevered to produce a significant body of work, including five albums, six theatrical productions and a variety of film and television projects on three continents. She joins us on Scribbler's Corner to talk about how bad choices have taught her the best lessons in life.Support the show (
Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy award winning news producer and author. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Florida State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication: Mass Media Studies and Honors English Creative Writing. Nikesha’s debut novel, Four Women, was awarded the 2018 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award in the category of Adult Contemporary/Literary Fiction. Four Women, was also recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists as an Outstanding Literary Work. She has subsequently published two additional novels: The Appeal of Ebony Jones, and her latest, Love Never Fails. She joins Darlyn on Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass to talk about her writer's journey, including the inspiration of Nina Simone, the importance of being heard, the "Jacksonville Renaissance" and how she lost the first draft of her first novel, Four Women, and had to start over. Her advice for new writers: Start writing, and don't ever stop.Support the show
To celebrate National Poetry Month, Scribbler's Corner caught up with one of Jacksonville's rising stars. Andres Rojas was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. at age 13. He attended Florida Junior College, now FSCJ, here in Jacksonville and went on to earn an M.F.A. and a J.D. from the University of Florida. His work has been featured in numerous literary magazines and included in the 2017 edition of Best New Poets. His first chapbook, Looking for What Isn’t There, is forthcoming from Paper Nautilus.For all of that success, however, Rojas has wrestled, for decades with severe clinical depression and the kind of self doubt that all writers struggle with from time to time. He shares how he came to terms with his inner critic by learning to accept self doubt, and submit anyway, recognizing that you miss 100 percent of the shots not taken.The song, Southbound Lane, featured in this episode, was written and produced by Andres Rojas and performed by Eclepto Funk America. It is used here with the Author's permission. If you know and love Andy (And we are happy to say we do!) do yourself a favor: Pour yourself a drink and binge watch his archived front porch concert series available in the video section on his facebook page. It will make you smile. And it will make you want to have him over for songs and Sangria.UPDATE: Looking for What Isn't There is now available.Support the show
Truth telling isn't always easy, especially when those truths involve airing family secrets. Tricia Booker, author of The Place of Peace and Crickets somehow manages to tell hard truths in a way that is both caring and unsparing. She stopped by Scribbler's Corner at River of Grass this week with her constant companion: Buddy the wonder dog. Support the show (
Tim Gilmore writes about the haunted South.Gilmore is the author of 17 books, including a historical novel about the founder of Jacksonville, The Book of Isaiah: A Vision of the Founder of a City, illustrated by his colleague Shep Shepard, and creative nonfiction such as Goat Island Hermit: The State of Florida vs. Rollians Christopher, The Devil in the Baptist Church: Bob Gray’s Unholy Trinity, In Search of Eartha White: Storehouse for the People, The Mad Atlas of Virginia King, and Stalking Ottis Toole: A Southern Gothic. Gilmore adapted Stalking Ottis Toole as a play, which FSCJ (Florida State College at Jacksonville) Dramaworks’ Ken McCulough directed at the school’s Wilson Center in Spring 2017. Dramaworks will produce Gilmore’s The Repossession of James Edward Pough: Mass Shooting in Baymeadows in April, 2019. Repossession will be McCulough’s 50th production with FSCJ.Gilmore is the founder of JaxbyJax, a literary arts festival built on the theme of “Jacksonville Writers Writing Jacksonville.” He’s the writer and creator of, a project that explores place and catalogues the Southern Gothic, telling the stories of nearly 450 locations in and around Jacksonville, Florida.Gilmore’s work has appeared in numerous national and Jacksonville area publications including Mark Ari’s EAT Poems, Andrei Condrescu’s Exquisite Corpse, Fiction Fix, Perversion Magazine and Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly. His first stories for Folio appeared in the mid-1990s. In late 2018, his essay “The Stories That Roam Jacksonville’s Streets” appeared in Bridge Eight Press’s anthology 15 Views of Jacksonville.Tim Gilmore has presented at numerous events and venues, including the Jacksonville Historical Society (where he’s spoken on the history of murder in Jacksonville, Eartha White, Virginia King and Rollians Christopher), the Florida Historical Society, ASALH (the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History), various Popular Culture Association and Modern Language Association conferences, the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival, Sleeping Giant Film Festival, and JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival. When his book In Search of Eartha White, Storehouse for the People appeared in 2014, he gave the keynote address at the Pearls and Cuff Links Fundraiser Gala for the Clara White Mission. In February 2019, Gilmore will be the keynote speaker at the University of Florida’s English Graduate Organization symposium.Gilmore teaches Literature and Writing at Florida State College at Jacksonville, where he was awarded a 2018 Distinguished Faculty Award. The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville named Gilmore the 2018Support the show (
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