Why We Write

Why We Write logo

Why We Write is an interview-style podcast that takes a look at our diverse and award-winning community of writers — from alumni and professors to visiting authors. Each episode will take a deep dive into the work, habits, inspiration and motivation of our guests, who write for the page, the stage, and every age. Join us as we take a look at what it really means to be a published author in the 21st century.

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  • Episode Seven: What An MFA in Creative Writing Can Do For You

    If you've ever contemplated getting your MFA in Creative Writing, this is the episode for you. We've got a panel on the MFA in Creative Writing experience with three members of the Lesley University community: Boston Poet Laureate and Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing Interim Director Danielle Legros Georges, Associate Director Janet Pocorobba and alumna Heather Hughes, an associate editor at Harvard University Press.

    The three authors writers talk about Lesley's low-residency program, diversity in MFA programs, and what an MFA program can and can't do for you. A Q&A with the audience rounds out this episode.

    Recorded at the Boston Book Festival by Studio 125. Listen to more recordings from this year’s festival here.

  • Episode Six: Surviving New Jersey with Scott Loring Sanders

    Scott Loring Sanders headshot

    Scott Loring Sanders is the author of "Surviving Jersey: Danger and Insanity in the Garden State," a collection of personal essays on growing up in New Jersey and life beyond the state. In this interview, Sanders speaks with Lesley University Director of Communications John Sullivan about murder and mayhem in his home state, the advice he gives to young writers and going on a police ride along for his upcoming novel.

    Sanders teaches creative writing to Lesley University undergraduates. In addition to "Surviving Jersey," he is the author of two novels and a book of short stories. He has published a variety of short stories and essays in magazines and journals ranging in scope from North American Review to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine to Creative Nonfiction to Brevity.

  • Episode Five: From the page to the stage with playwright Jami Brandli

    Jami Brandli headshot in black and white


    Show notes

    Jami Brandli is an award-winning playwright based in Los Angeles and a faculty member in Lesley University's MFA in Creative Writing program. In this episode she discusses "making it" as a playwright, writing strong female characters and her trilogy based on Greek mythology with Emily Earle, Lesley's social media specialist.

    Jami’s plays include Technicolor Life, S.O.E., M-Theory, ¡SOLDADERA!, Sisters Three, Through the Eye of a Needle, Medusa’s Song, O: A Rhapsody in Divorce and BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) which was named in The Kilroys Top 46 List in 2014. Her work has been produced/developed at New Dramatists, WordBRIDGE, The Lark, New York Theatre Workshop, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Launch Pad, The Antaeus Company, Chalk REP, The Road, among other venues.

    Current 2018-2019 Humanitas Prize PLAY LA playwright. Winner of John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, Holland New Voices Award and Aurora Theatre Company's GAP Prize. Technicolor Life premiered at REP Stage as part of the 2015 Women’s Voices Theater Festival and recently received its Australian premiere at The Depot Theatre.  In 2018, *BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!)* receives a joint-world premiere with Moxie Theatre (San Diego) and Promethean Theatre (Chicago), ending with Moving Arts’ production this fall at Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles (LA Time’s Critic’s Choice).

    Sisters Three will receive its world premiere with The Inkwell Theater (Los Angeles) in December, and Through the Eye of a Needle also received its world premiere at The Road Theatre (Los Angeles) this past spring.

    She’s been a finalist for the 2016 PEN Literary Award for Drama, Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Fellowship, Princess Grace Award, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Disney ABC TV Fellowship and was also nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.  Her short works are published with TCG and Smith & Kraus. A proud member of the Playwrights Union, the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, and The Dramatist Guild, Jami teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University's low-residency MFA program. She is represented by the Robert A Freedman Agency and Gramercy Park Entertainment.

  • Episode Four: Jason Reynolds — Writing books for kids who don't read books

    Jason Reynolds head shot in black and white

    Jason Reynolds is a Newbury Award honoree and the New York Times bestselling author of Long Way Down, the Track series and many other books for kids, middle grade and young adults. His novels feature diverse characters and are unfailingly compelling, compassionate, and timely. They take an unflinching look at gun violence, police brutality, family, loss, and friendship. In this interview, he speaks with fellow author Chris Lynch about writer's block, writing honestly and what it means when your book gets banned.

    Lynch and Reynolds teach in our low-residency Creative Writing in MFA program.


    For Every One (2018)
    Sunny (2018)
    Long Way Down (2017)
    Patina (2017)
    Miles Morales (2017)
    Ghost (2016)
    As Brave As You (2016)
    All American Boys (2016, Co-Authored with Brendan Kiely)
    The Boy in the Black Suit (2015)
    When I Was the Greatest (2014)
    My Name is Jason. Mine Too. (2009)

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  • Episode Three: Searching for the real Shakespeare with Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

    Cheryl Eagan-Donovan headshot in black and white

    Cheryl Eagan-Donovan is a graduate of Lesley University's MFA in Creative Writing program, where she also teaches screenwriting. Her first documentary film, All Kindsa Girls, screened in London, Toronto and throughout the U.S. and was short-listed for the PBS series POV.

    Her latest documentary, Nothing Truer than Truth, premiered in 2018 and posits that the A-list playboy Edward de Vere was the real Shakespeare. Let's just say, it's an idea that is not without controversy, and it's probably no coincidence that Eagan-Donovan's company is called Controversy Films.

    Lesley Communications Specialist Georgia Sparling interviews her.

    We're taking a break for Thanksgiving, but will have a new episode Nov. 29.

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  • Episode Two: Women, history and 'The Weight of Ink' with Rachel Kadish

    Rachel Kadish headshot in black and white.

    Rachel Kadish is the acclaimed author of The Weight of Ink, winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award, as well as the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Tin House, the New England Review and Salon, among others.

    In this episode, Kadish, a faculty member in our MFA in Creative Writing program, talks about her most recent novel — the interwoven tale of two women: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

    Author and Professor Caroline Heller conducts the interview.

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  • Episode One: Bestselling YA author & love junkie Katie Cotugno


    Katie Cotugno black and white author photo

    Katie Cotugno is the New York Times bestselling author of messy, complicated, feminist love stories. She studied Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College and received her MFA in Fiction at Lesley University. Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review and Argestes, among others. The great loves of her life include child's pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom, and her dog, Avon.

    Lesley Social Media Specialist Emily Earle interviews her.

    Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or Spotify.


Appearances by Lesley Community members on radio broadcasts and podcasts.

Here is a selection of recent shows to give you a taste of the fascinating topics our professors and graduates are working on.

The Artsy Podcast: What Happens When Art Meets Craigslist

Photo of Sophie Barbasch

On a number of occasions, College of Art and Design faculty Sophie Barbasch has used Craigslist to ask strangers personal questions. On this podcast, she talks about turning those answers into artwork and the moral complications.


Weekend Edition: Author Explores a Dark History Through a Magical Story in ‘Rise of the Jumbies’

Tracy Baptiste head shot

Bestselling author and MFA in Creative Writing professor Tracy Baptiste talks with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about her Caribbean folk tale-inspired novels for middle grade readers.


SoundOff Podcast: Donna Halper on Radio, Religion and Rush

Donna Halper headshot

Veteran journalist and Associate Professor Donna Halper speaks about her discovery of the band Rush during her disc jockey days, as well as her religion and long career in radio.


Fresh Air: As Marriage Standards Change, A Therapist Recommends 'Rethinking Infidelity'

Close up of Esther Perel's book "The State of Affairs" - cover is a match book with the words overlaid on it.

NPR’s Terry Gross interviews couples therapist and Lesley alumna Esther Perel ’82, whose book “The State of Affairs” looks at marriage and infidelity. Perel also has a popular podcast “Where Should We Begin.”


Teaching Matters

Headshot of Sydney Chaffee, appears to be in a classroom

Alumna Sydney Chaffee ’07 has traveled the globe in recent months as the National Teacher of the Year. On this broadcast, she discusses her teaching “epiphany,” social justice, and her experiences in the classroom.


Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds head shot

Following the release of three award-winning young adult novels last year, Jason Reynolds appeared on many podcasts. The MFA in Creative Writing faculty member talks about being part of the Marvel universe, discusses James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” on Book Riot’s Recommended, talks about poetry in his page-turner “Long Way Down” on the Barnes and Noble Podcast, and speaks about becoming a reader with Gayle King on CBS.

Want to be included in the next Lesley podcast/broadcast roundup? Email us at news@lesley.edu.