Emerging Form: A Podcast

Emerging Form is a podcast about creative process.

It’s a conversation between friends — science writer Christie Aschwanden and poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer — in which we discuss the joys, agonies and black holes of creative endeavors. The idea began in Rosemerry’s kitchen when she acted out good muse/bad muse on Christie’s shoulders, trying to motivate Christie to finish her book manuscriptThe friends knew they were not alone in their creative struggles and triumphs, so with Christie’s penchant for the practical and Rosemerry’s leaning toward existential curiosity, the two hosts discuss issues and questions that plague creative people. Each half-hour episode is either an interview or a conversation between the hosts, tackling questions such as: How can I get useful feedback? How do I revive an abandoned project? Can hard work overcome mediocre talent? How do I tell personal stories involving conflict? How do I build a creative habit? How does play fuel creativity?

Why Emerging Form? Once upon a time, there was a group of poets who would gather for wild slumber parties. One of them, a cantankerous genius named Jack Mueller, would use a black Sharpie to write witticisms on blank 3×5 cards. One night, he wrote in all caps, OBEY THE POEM’S EMERGING FORM. He then proceeded to shout the epigram for the rest of the night, permanently tattooing the phrase on Rosemerry, who has shared it at poetry readings and workshops ever since. The wisdom of Jack’s instruction struck Christie, too, and she and Rosemerry began a long-lasting conversation about emerging form—not just in poetry, but in wine, in art, in cooking, in sports training and even in friendship. Obey the emerging form has become our mantra.

Our first episode came out in February, 2019. Our guests have included poets Alison Luterman, Rafael Jesús Gonzàlez, Danusha Laméris and James Crews; non-fiction writers Pam Houston, Sarah Knight, Amy Irvine and Cheryl Strayed; fiction writer Peter Heller; podcasters Catherine Saint Louis and Arielle Duhaime-Ross; science writers Susan J. Tweit, Rachel Feltman and Dr. Emily Willingham, plus interviews with humorists, circus performers, aerialists, artists and wine makers.

In the fall of 2021, Leah Shaw joined the team as audio engineer.

Click any of the podcast titles below to be taken to the Emerging Form website where you can listen. Subscribe to the newsletter and bonus episode feed here or use this link for our podcast feed. Pease join in the discussion of creative process on our Facebook page!

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  • Episode 83 Bonus: Flora Lichtman on why it's ok to be earnest March 30, 2023
    Listen now (16 min) | What if you included your commute as part of your creative practice–even if you work at home? We talk with podcaster and video editor Flora Lichtman about her morning ritual, plus the importance of knowing what you don’t want in your creative practice, and why our creative work likes it […]
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 84: Flora Lichtman on Curiosity and Wonder March 23, 2023
    Listen now (36 min) | Instead of sweating the small stuff, what if we honor the small stuff–with curiosity, with wonder. In this episode of Emerging Form, we talk with podcaster and video editor Flora Lichtman about her work as host for the listener call-in podcast “Every Little Thing,” which was essentially an “exercise in […]
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Exercises in Curiosity March 20, 2023
    Flora Lichtman on creative approaches and collaboration
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 83 Bonus: David Epstein Does a Little Dance March 16, 2023
    Escucha ahora (22 min) | In this bonus episode, bestselling author David Epstein talks about priming the work day with “paying yourself first,” what he learned from editing film about about how to structure writing projects, the republic of underwear, and why he’s learned how to shuffle on Instagram.
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 83: David Epstein on Cultivating an Experimental Attitude March 9, 2023
    Listen now (36 min) | One of the best ways to support your creative practice? Try new things. In this episode, David Epstein, author of the New York Times #1 best seller Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, talks about why many streams of interest, novelty, and beginner’s mind are important. The conversation […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • The Importance of Trying New Things March 6, 2023
    Author David Epstein on how (and why) to become curioser and curioser
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 82 Bonus: Creative Pleasures with Brad Aaron Modlin March 1, 2023
    Listen now (14 min) | How can you invite pleasure to be a part of your creative practice? In this bonus episode with professor and poet Brad Aaron Modlin we talk about his heart-opening, blood pumping, joy-raising way to start a creative day; ways to dismantle our fear of not being good enough; and how […]
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 82: Changing Up Your Creative Practice with Brad Aaron Modlin February 23, 2023
    Listen now (28 min) | What kinds of creative habits work best for you? How do different practices bring out a new flavor or new thrill in your art? We talk with professor and poet Brad Aaron Modlin, the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at University of Nebraska, Kearney
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Finding Your Creative Way February 20, 2023
    Trying Very Different Approaches to Practice with Brad Aaron Modlin
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 81 Bonus: Kinds of Stuck with Florence Williams February 16, 2023
    Listen now (14 min) | Have you noticed there are different kinds of stuck? We talk about two of them with author Florence Williams. We also talk about the importance of being uncomfortable as you create, and how heartbreak might offer a doorway into a new relationship with your creative practice.
    Christie Aschwanden