Bringing writers out into the open: Professor, writer Matt Bell to be interviewed in local podcast

The HUB Patio in Phoenix will host a live podcast recording of a 'Limited Engagement' interview with Matt Bell on Friday

The rise of podcasts created an opportunity for anyone with a laptop and a mic to be heard from the convenience of their office or bedroom. This Friday, however, the Phoenix community will be brought into this usually private affair.

Local podcast "Limited Engagement" will provide the chance to listen to a live recording of a podcast while enjoying the landscape and weather.

The podcast is a monthly interview series that strives to bring arts and culture outside of an academic setting and into the local community. This month, the host, Jared Duran, will be interviewing local writer, author and professor Matt Bell at the HUB Patio in Phoenix at 7 p.m. 

"Limited Engagement" started in May of 2015. Duran was working as an editor and director of events and programming at Four Chambers Press when he was approached by local poet Jack Evans, who asked him if he would like to launch a monthly podcast that showcased local artists. Duran loved the idea and has since broadened the scope from local artists to more national and international ones as well. 

"I hope to build an audience and maintain a local focus by opening up to international and national artists," Duran said. "I want to show the strengths of local artists to the community."

He started off by interviewing artists that he knew — mostly poets and prose writers. As the podcast progressed, he began reaching out to artists that he enjoyed and has found success in the tactic.

When asked why he chose Bell for the next interview, Duran said it was inevitable because they saw each other all the time and Duran grew to appreciate Bell's style.

"We kept crossing paths," he said. "I first met him at the launch for Spilled Milk. I went to a reading and picked a copy of 'Scrapper.' I loved it and wanted to know more."

Bell is in his third year of teaching creative writing at ASU. Aside from being a professor, he is the author of four books of fiction, one book of non-fiction, three short story collections and numerous other publications. 

When asked how he got started in writing, Bell said there is a big connection between reading and writing.

"Writing starts in reading," he said. "I wanted to read more of what I liked, so I made my own fiction." 

He primarily categorizes his writing as literary fiction, but under that umbrella he challenges himself to write experimental material. 

"I grew up reading literary elements such as mystery, fantasy and sci-fi, so I believe there are fairytale and mythical elements in my writing, but I don't give my work a narrow focus," he said.

Bell said he is excited to join Duran on Friday night. 

"It will be fun to interact with the community," Bell said. "It's a chance to try to connect with the audience, to offer something useful or helpful to them and to be as transparent as I can be about what I do and how and why I do it."

Kalani Pickhart, a first year MFA creative writing student, and student of Bell's, said she appreciates having Bell as a resource, teacher and member of the community.

"I can’t express how fortunate we are to have Matt," she said. "He fosters this generative, exciting, communal space, not only in his class, but in the community as well. He’s always commenting and active on social media and engaging with each of us and writers he knows from all over."

Pickhart said she is eager to attend the reading.

"I think both the Phoenix writing community and the ASU writing community thrive off of one another," she said. "I think an accomplished writer like Matt Bell has the ability to bridge some gaps between the two."

Bell said he is excited to see how the art community has continued to grow and develop. 

"I've seen how ambitious and hardworking our community is, and I'm encouraged by how much of the work points outward, seeking empathy and connection and service," he said. "There's a lot of strength in our community, and I think it's only going to grow in years to come. I'm glad to be a part of that, in my own small way, and I'm excited to do my best to help make it even better."

For those who cannot attend the live recording, the podcast will be uploaded Sunday, Nov. 20 on Limited Engagement's website and iTunes.


Reach the reporter at rebunnin@asu.edu or follow @rebunning on Twitter.

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