15 August 2009

Interviewing authors: Temple Grandin, David Whyte, Garrison Keillor, Wole Soyinka and Skip Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert, Fr. John Dear, Jamaica Kincaid

In today's Sunday Denver Post, my story on Temple Grandin appears in the Books section. Since I’m an animal-lover, I took great interest in Dr. Grandin’s new book, titled “Animals Make Us Human.”

Here's a link to my story on Temple Grandin.

I’m also including links to some of my other Denver Post articles on books and authors that might interest you.

• Of all the people I’ve interviewed over all the years—decades, actually—I think David Whyte ranks among the most articulate. His British accent and his poet’s mind combine for artful conversation. Whyte’s most recent book is titled “The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship," and if you've never heard his audio recordings, I highly recommend those, as well. Whyte will make you think. And laugh.

Click on this link to read my article on David Whyte.

Speaking of laughing: I’ve listened to Garrison Keillor and “A Prairie Home Companion” since I was in college. We have a lot in common, both being shy English majors from the Midwest. You’ll enjoy this good humored interview with Keillor, conducted via two emails: my email with questions to him and his email with answers sent back to me about two hours later. I did not change a word. I did not have to. He's masterful. And quick. I had just read his book "Pontoon" on the shores of Cherry Creek Lake.

Click here to read my interview with Garrison Keillor

• Wole Soyinka is the only Nobel Laureate in literature that I’ve had the good fortune to interview. What makes this interview particularly interesting is that for the story I also interviewed Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Also known as Skip Gates, the professor dominated the news recently after being arrested at his home, then invited to drink beers with the arresting officer and President Barack Obama at the White House.

Click here to read my
article on Wole Soyinka and Henry Louis Gates.

• I was on top of the world when I got the assignment to interview Elizabeth Gilbert. Literally, I was at the summit house at Keystone, warming myself by the fire between runs on a snowy day when my iPhone vibrated in my ski jacket. The call came in from one of my editors asking me if I’d be interested in doing a piece on Gilbert--at the time the "It Girl" of the literary world. I had not yet read her wildly successful book "Eat, Pray, Love" but several of my friends had and people had been telling me I had to read the book. Of course, I accepted the assigment. Liz Gilbert in person is every bit as wise, warm and funny as she is in print. After our interview, I saw Gilbert gracing the cover of TIME magazine in the good company of the other 99 most influential people in the world.

Click here to read my
article on Elizabeth Gilbert.

• Jesuit Father John Dear is a peace activist with the courage of his convictions--and he has a string of convictions, jail sentences, and a stretch or two in prison for his bold activism. Originally, I contact Father Dear to interview him for a national stewardship newsletter that I edit and art-direct. When I learned that his memoir was about to be published and that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had nominated the priest for the Nobel Peace Prize, I knew I had a bigger story. Every time I see a peace symbol, I think of dear John Dear. His memoir is titled "A Persistent Peace."

Click here to read my
article on Father John Dear.

• I used to read Jamaica Kincaid’s pieces in The New Yorker without knowing she was the then-daughter-in-law of then-editor William Shawn. Our interview veered off subject many times and we both enjoyed a lot of belly laughs as we talked about everything from magnolias to LSD. She has the most beautiful speaking voice! And her literary voice captivates, too. Check out "My Garden Book" for her perspective on plants.
Click here to read my
article on Jamaica Kincaid.

And if you're a gardener or enjoy flower photography, click here to drop by my Examiner.com page where I serve as Denver Flower and Gardening Examiner. (Best title I've ever held!)

Photo at top by Colleen Smith depicts detail from a painting in the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.



  1. Hi Colleen, We wanted to send you a press kit for an upcoming exhibitino but have no mailing address and our email for you is apparently out of date. Please contact the DAM press office. Rose B.

  2. You really make it look so natural with your exhibition however I see this issue as really something which I figure I could never appreciate. It appears to be excessively confounded and amazingly wide for me. I'm searching forward for your next post, I'll attempt to get its hang!


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