Japan Australia Pages

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Writers Read Their Early Sh*t Podcast

I recently had the chance to be a guest on the fantastic Writers Read Their Early Sh*t podcast hosted by the amazing Jason Emde.

We talked about the world of online travel writing along with a range of interesting topics such as the coolest places to visit in Japan and whether Aussie space-rockers The Church are the best band to ever come out of Australia. We also had a chance to delve into some of my very early blog writing.

Today, Jason has returned the favour by guest posting on Japan Australia to tell us all about his wonderful new podcast, but before we get into all of that, let’s find out a little about the man himself.

Jason was born in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, and grew up in the Okanagan Valley. He received his BA from UBC in 1995 and moved to Japan, where he taught English to students of all age groups. He also bartended, edited scientific journals, officiated at hundreds of weddings, played bass in a KISS tribute band, made amateur films, won his debut boxing match by TKO in the second round, and traveled extensively in Japan, the rest of Asia and Europe. His first book, “My Hand’s Tired & My Heart Aches: Letters from Japan 1995-2005,’ was published by Kalamalka Press in 2005.

A young Jason Emde in the middle 

Now, let’s hear from Jason about the inspiration for the Writers Read Their Early Sh*t podcast.

The idea for the Writers Read Their Early Sh*t podcast first came to me while I was working on my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and happened to read a poem I wrote in elementary school about a tree. It wasn’t much of a poem (“Emphatic!” reads my teacher’s only comment) and I realized—or remembered—that all writers, famous and obscure, are probably sitting on treasure troves of undeft early work, shitty first drafts, and undeveloped and unsophisticated efforts, all of it stuck in a box in some closet or drawer. I know I am: there are whole filing cabinets back in my hometown overflowing with frothing journals, notebooks full of utterly pretentious waffle and twaddle, stacks of mind-humpingly primitive poetry, and old letters full of flatulent bombast and smut. Some of those early attempts and experiments, I thought, might do at least three things when exposed to the air: provide a charming autobiographical snapshot of the writer, with space for entering into friendly relations with early ineptitude or artistic immaturity; encourage considering everything an experiment, and release some artistic pressure; and do their splendid to entertain. Early, unripe work might provide an opportunity to confront a former version of oneself, and maybe even forgive him or her, and it might delight and divert other artists, no matter what stage of the game they’re at. That, in any case, was the idea.

I launched the podcast in the summer of 2021 and have interviewed—and vastly enjoyed the early sh*t of—poets like Sarah Tsiang and James Tyler Russell, songwriters like David White and Dave Antich (otherwise known as DJ Max in Tokyo, who provides all of the podcast’s music), memoirists like Victoria Taylor, novelists like Adam Lewis Schroeder, and travel writers like John Asano from Japan Australia. One legendary episode featured my sister, Alison Emde, reading gems from her teenage journals. The conversations so far have been freewheeling and funny and unpretentious and intimate and moving, fueled by a love of language, a fascination with craft, and a kind of broad-minded sympathy. There have also been digressions into such things as literary pilgrimages, the best and worst punctuation marks, macrame soap holders, secretly rooting for the monkey, how The Church is (possibly) the best band Australia ever produced, why Japan is so ace, and kabuki thunder-rockers KISS. I’m very much looking forward to talking to more writers of all kinds (and all levels of success and achievement) and exploring the occasionally unruly pleasures of their early, wet-behind-the-ears work.

You can listen to all the episodes of the podcast at the Writers Read Their Early Sh*t podcast page, and give Jason and the podcast a follow on both Facebook and Instagram

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