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 115: Courtney E. Martin on the Tragic Gap May 16, 2024
    “Invest always in relationships before you need them, be vulnerable with them,” says Courtney E. Martin, journalist, author, podcaster and speaker. In this episode, she shares with us an essential question for all journalists and creatives and discusses how it shaped a specific project, plus she offers advice for living a creative life based on […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Advice for the Creative Life May 13, 2024
    Courtney E. Martin on Creating into "The Tragic Gap"
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 111: Goodnight Moonshine on Being Open to Unexpected Twists May 9, 2024
    How do you find an ending for a song? We talk with Eben Pariser and Molly Venter of Goodnight Moonshine about being open to an unexpected twist. We also talk about how to let your creativity be informHow do you find an ending for a song? We talk with Eben Pariser and Molly Venter of […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 111: Getting in the Creative Zone with Goodnight Moonshine May 2, 2024
    image: Eben Pariser and Molly Venter How do we get in the zone? What does that even mean for creatives? And how do we stay in it? And how do we get back in when kicked out? We speak with musicians and marriage partners Molly Venter and Eben Pariser about using the ancient technologies of […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Getting in the Creative Zone April 30, 2024
    How to access the treasure inside you with Goodnight Moonshine
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 110 Bonus: Erin Zimmerman on Revising Structure April 25, 2024
    Is it really important for a project to have unproductive days? In this bonus episode we talk with botanist and writer Erin Zimmerman about how she met this unwanted advice, plus how data inspires her creative practice and and how hard it is to walk away from our ideas about how a creative project is […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 110: The Choices a Writer Must Make with Erin Zimmerman April 18, 2024
    It’s all about balance–and in this episode we speak with botanist and writer Erin Zimmerman about choices she made in her new book Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood and the Fight to Save an Old Science. We also talk about the choices she’s made as she balances motherhood and work, being an introvert and finding a writing […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Finding the Right Balance--in Writing & in Life April 15, 2024
    Erin Zimmerman on Botany, Memoir, and Motherhood
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 109 Bonus: Christie's New Podcast April 11, 2024
    Listen to episode 1 of Uncertain
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 109: Christie's New Podcast is Here! April 4, 2024
    [image: Christie working with her Scientific American editor, Jeff DelViscio.] We live in a society that wants to know. And yet uncertainty underlies all of science–one of our most essential tools for understanding the world. What is our relationship with uncertainty? Why is this relationship so important? And what does it have to do with […]
    Christie Aschwanden