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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  • How Embracing Change Fuels Creative Practice October 2, 2023
    Best-selling author Brad Stulberg on expectations, rugged flexibility, identity and more
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 96 Bonus: David Keplinger on Ghazals and How Constraints Spark Creativity September 28, 2023
    Listen now (15 mins) | Poet David Keplinger helps unravel several creative mysteries in this bonus episode, for instance, what the heck is a prose poem, (and why is it a wonderful thing)? Why can oddly specific prompts can inspire and relax the muse? Why are constraints such good fodder for creativity? And how does […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 96: David Keplinger on Poetry and Science September 21, 2023
    Listen now (28 mins) | What happens when science, spirituality and poetry weave together? We speak with heralded poet David Keplinger about his newest poetry collection, Ice, which he playfully describes as “poetry via the Pleistocene.” The book, and our conversation, explores emergence–the emergence of Ice Age animals once preserved in ice and the emergence […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Weaving Science, Spirituality and Humanness into Poetry September 19, 2023
    Poet David Keplinger on "Poetry via the Pleistocene"
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 95 Bonus: Cameron Walker on the Creative Benefits of Doing Nothing and Inviting the Interruption In September 14, 2023
    Listen now (16 mins) | What is the secret to storytelling? Writer Cameron Walker shares first-hand wisdom from David the Storyteller, plus thoughts on how kindness, good listening skills and taking time to do nothing are powerful tools for a writing practice. Cameron Walker
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 95: Writing Across Genres with Cameron Walker September 7, 2023
    Listen now (30 mins) | Versatility in writing across genres can be a great blessing for a writer, and in this episode we speak with Cameron Walker who works as a journalist, writes poetry and fiction, and has two books coming out this year—one, a book of essays, and the other is an illustrated book […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Trusting the Practice September 5, 2023
    Writing across genres with Cameron Walker
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 94 Bonus: Preview T&J, Christine Laskowski's New Podcast August 31, 2023
    Listen now (11 mins) | Welcome to 6th-century Byzantium and the beginning of the greatest love story on earth as told by Christine Laskowski–with such humor, wonder and curiosity! For this bonus episode of Emerging Form, we share with you an episode from T&J, a podcast devoted to the love story between Empress Theodora and […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 94: Christine Laskowski on Passion Projects August 24, 2023
    Listen now (32 mins) | This episode is all about passion. What happens when a curiosity takes on a life of its own? How do you juggle a passion project with a full-time job? What are the benefits to working alone? How do you determine a project has chops? We speak with Christine Laskowski
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Let's Talk Passion! August 22, 2023
    Christine Laskowski on her passion project—retelling a true Byzantine love story
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer