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A Podcast That Might Save Your Life

A Podcast That Might Save Your Life (In addition to the Lighthouse podcast, that is.)

This is the website for a (free! on itunes!) podcast that I’ve come to rely more and more on as of late. It’s called “The Drunken Odyssey with John King.” I was introduced to his podcast through a friend at the Art Farm this past summer, and I became hooked shortly after.

NE last sunset

Where I first listened to The Drunken Odyssey

On the podcast, John interviews a really varied array of novelists, poets, nonfiction writers, and essayists. He is a double-whammy smart guy (Ph D from Purdue; MFA from NYU) and he manages to share a ton of his knowledge gleaned from being a crazy close-reader of guest’s books without intimidating non-scholarly types like me. I’ve probably brushed up on more “must read classics” in a passing way by listening to him than I did in my MFA program (D’oh–guess you can’t make up for that political science degree with an art degree after all).

He draws connections between writers’ influences and also styles and genre (some people he interviewed include Susan Hubbard, Stephen Elliott, Francesca Lia Block–from so, so, different worlds of the writerly universe) and has turned me on to at least three new favorite authors I’ve never heard of. And then a writer reads an essay they’ve written about a book that changed their life.

From this podcast, I learned about one bestselling author who was blocked for ten years after her MFA degree. I learned about a much-lauded fiction writer and winner of many awards who chose to self publish his first book as an e-book instead of pursue the elite route of agent/big house publishing. I learned about a guy who started his own lit journal and then decided to couch surf around the world.

If you need a dose of “there’s more than one way to do this writer thing” try out this podcast.

(btw–he’s always looking for submissions from any thoughtful person who experienced a book that burned a whole in their heart or head. You can find the formal call for submissions to “The Book That Changed My Life” segment of his podcast over at New Pages, which is a good all-call clearinghouse for writers to know about anyway. Note: You’ll need to search specifically for “John King” or “Drunken Odyssey” to find it in the classifieds-like listings over there.

Or, here’s the call for submissions as it appears at New Pages:

The Drunken Odyssey Needs Personal Essays on Beloved Books

The Drunken Odyssey with John King, a writing podcast, needs personal essays about a beloved book for its “Book that Changed my Life” segment towards the end of each show. These essays should be between 500 and 700 words. The format is to discuss what was going on in your life when you encountered the book (1-2 paragraphs), what about the book affected you so much (2-3 paragraphs), and close retrospectively with your life now, after having had the book become a part of you. For examples, check out the podcast Send pitches for essay ideas

Helpful to know: “Book that Changed my Life” is a segment at the end of every hour or so long podcast episode, and to listen specifically to these segments, you’ll need to fast forward to the end of TDO podcasts. The podcast interviews, conversations, and essays about books are audio-only, and not published in any companion print form.

TDO is kind of like medicine for two needs in my writer’s life: the need for a once-over lightly craft/literature brush up, and the need for commiseration and solace at the end of a writing day when I feel like poking my eyes out with the end of my broken mechanical pencil’s eraser.


John King

Who he is: John King is a writer of many genres, including fiction, poetry, academic essays, and journalism.  He is a reviewer of books for The Literary Review and theatrical performances for Shakespeare Bulletin, and is a regular contributor to Celebrations magazine.  In 2003, he earned a Ph.D. from Purdue University, and in 2010, he earned an MFA in creative writing from New York University.  He currently is a Visiting Instructor of composition at the University of Central Florida.

7 comments on “A Podcast That Might Save Your Life

  1. megnix
    April 8, 2013

    I have those same two needs–commiseration and gobbling up other people’s smarts. I’m on it! Thanks Alison.

  2. cathyannelaine
    April 10, 2013

    I’m so excited! I’m downloading a bunch now to listen to while in my car! Thank you for writing about this!

  3. danmanzan
    April 10, 2013


  4. Anne
    April 10, 2013

    You have something not quite correct: you link to the correct page for the Book That Changed my Life, but there is no “section” with that title. What people should look for is The Drunken Odyssey with John King listing—The Book That Changed My Life is a segment of the writing podcast that they do. It would help to be clearer on this, or just to link to the Drunken Odyssey rather than that long submissions page to search through. I was looking specifically for a heading called The Book That Changed my Life . . .

    • alison barker
      May 17, 2013

      Thank you for reading so carefully, A.E. I edited the post to reflect your corrections! -Alison

  5. fancydrew
    April 12, 2013

    Thanks for the heads up! Always on the lookout for new podcasts to listen to out on the open road (6th Ave. to Lakewood).

  6. Pingback: Interview: John King of The Drunken Odyssey | Eunoia Solstice

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This entry was posted on April 5, 2013 by in Member dispatches, Writing and tagged , .

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