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A writer’s insight showcased on air

Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

word wire

Veronica Chaparro / The Prospector

KTEP is now showcasing ‘Words on a Wire’, a talk show by creative writing professors Benjamin Saenz (left) and Daniel Chacon (right).

KTEP's new radio talk show, "Words on a Wire," offers the El Paso writing community an exposition to writers from around the country.

The show is hosted by the head of the Creative Writing Department, Benjamin Alire Saenz, and creative writing professor, Daniel Chacon. Words on a Wire does not limit its focus, Saenz said. Instead, it explores the country's literary world as a whole.

Saenz, who awarded the American Book Award for "Calendar of Dust," said that talk of getting the show on the air sprung from the two hosts love of literature.

"(Chacon) said to me, ‘We should have a book show. We can call it Book Talk. It would be a good idea.' And so we started talking and dreaming about what the show would look like and then we sent in our proposal to Patrick J. Piotrowski (KTEP General Manager)," Saenz said.

As the show was green lit, they devised its basic infrastructure. The 30-minute-show consists of an interview of approximately 15 minutes with an author, a poem of the week, the "poetic license" segment and book recommendations by the hosts.

The process to select authors, Saenz said, is not a problem for the two avid readers. As they read, they think to incorporate those authors to the show.

"We make wish lists of authors that we like and admire and we get in touch with them," Saenz said. "Some of them we know as writing friends and otherwise. Some we don't know at all, but we get in touch with them anyway."

The authors they have interviewed on air, among others, include Sergio Troncoso, Aaron Michael Morales, Chang-Rae Lee, Francisco Aragon, Carl Phillips and Cornelius Eady.

Guest authors, aside from discussing their work, are given the opportunity to write an editorial on the air in a segment called "poetic license."

"We ask writers from around the country to write editorials about anything they'd like to talk about," Saenz said. "It could be about their writing lives, politics, anything."

Among other things, authors talk about how they approach writing.

"I think we want to expose our audience to the writer's writing process," Saenz said. "How he decides and arrives at what they do, how they get there and why he thinks it's important."

Saenz said although the local writing community has great talent, the show is not exclusive to the region.

"We're not the type of show that's going local. We're going national, but we also have good writers in El Paso and we'll also feature them as well," Saenz said.

Although students don't participate in the show, Saenz hopes to change that in the future.

"Certainly we'll have a show that features our undergraduate writing students on occasion and we'll do the same with our graduate program," Saenz said.

As veteran writers and literary connoisseurs, Saenz said both hosts hope for the show to be a contribution to the American writing community.

"I see the future of this show as being a kind of important forum of Native American letters to be discussed," Saenz said.

"Words on a Wire" airs Sundays at 11:30 am on KTEP 88.5 FM.

Andres Rodriguez may be reached at

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