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 106: Rosemerry & Christie on How to Step Out of the Self-Loathing Spiral February 22, 2024
    It happens. We screw up. Sometimes, mid creative process, we realize we need to start over again. In this episode, we look at one of Rosemerry’s recent midnight bouts with “uh oh” and how it became a chance to explore trust in the process and trust in the creative self. “It was so empowering, so […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Making Mistakes, Forgiving the Self, Moving On February 20, 2024
    Rosemerry and Christie on finding a cocoon of self-compassion for the creative self
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 105 Bonus: Paul Hearding on Creativity and Math February 15, 2024
    Creative practice and overcoming stumbling blocks is not so different for a mathematician than it is for a poet. In this bonus episode we talk with Paul Hearding about creativity in math. He shares his work in permutation polynomials and uses metaphor to help us understand what THAT means and how it is useful for […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 105: Paul Hearding on Using Storytelling to Enhance Memory February 8, 2024
    How can you build a palace in your mind? We speak with Paul Hearding, the North American Champion for Reciting Pi, about how he used storytelling to memorize 16,106 digits in February 2020. He shares how his process evolved (obey the emerging form!) so that now, as he continues to memorize more, he’s included rhyme. […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Practical Storytelling February 6, 2024
    How Paul Hearding used story to become the North American Champion of reciting pi
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 104 Bonus: Writing to Know Yourself with John Roedel February 1, 2024
    “You can write to get to know yourself,” says John Roedel. “There’s something magical about that.” In this special bonus episode with the comedian and poet, we read together Fernando Pessoa’s poem “I Don’t Know How Many Souls I Have” and discuss how this poem is currently informing and inspiring Roedel’s creative practice and sense […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 104: John Roedel on Meeting Depression with Creative Practice January 25, 2024
    How can a creative practice help us to meet what Rilke named the “dark hours of our being?” How can we participate in a more self-compassionate creative practice? In this heart-opening, soul-nourishing, deeply vulnerable episode of Emerging Form, we speak with comedian and poet John Roedel about how writing helped him wonder again and again […]
    Christie Aschwanden
  • The Art of Meeting Depression January 22, 2024
    A vulnerable, heart-opening conversation with comedian and poet John Roedel
    Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
  • Episode 103 Bonus: Rebecca Boyle on Changing Identities January 18, 2024
    How do we keep up with our changing identities? In this bonus episode we speak with Rebecca Boyle about her path from journalist to author, from non-parent to parent. We talk, too, about how through writing she hopes to help people connect more deeply with the world around them–including their relationship to the moon.
    Christie Aschwanden
  • Episode 103: Rebecca Boyle on Finding Her Argument January 11, 2024
    How does one go from writing articles to writing a full book? How does this change creative rhythms of research, scheduling and writing? In this episode of Emerging Form we speak with journalist Rebecca Boyle whose first book, OUR MOON: How Earth’s Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are
    Christie Aschwanden