The Personal Element

The Personal Element

Where we listen to essays we love, and talk about what makes them so great.

Episodes

May 14, 2022 49 min

 In his incredibly chilling and honest essay, “The Dark Month”, Christopher Collins explores his faith and belief after witnessing a boy's senseless death during the war in Afghanistan.  Brian O'Neil reads this essay that was first published in Creative Nonfiction.  The essay is a bit longer than most of the pieces we choose, but we felt passionately that the subject matters of PTSD, mental health for veterans, and finding ...

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Based on the Beck song, "Que Onda Guero", Kelly Shire's musical essay (first published in Memoir Mixtapes) explores a young girl's search for identity while working in a warehouse. Surrounded by men who have hired her because they thought she was white (not half-Mexican) and thought she would "class up the place", she handles herself with grace, eventually discovering that she desires something more. 

Here...

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First published in Hippocampus Magazine, Brooke Knisley’s essay helps put in perspective what failure means, what success means. After her fall from a redwood tree, she must learn to write and speak again. Brooke pulls listeners into an intimate moment of starting over. In this episode we discuss how Brooke is able to keep a cool, collected distance from her struggle, without ever seeming to feel sorry for herself. What would it fe...

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February 15, 2022 28 min

 This episode on The Personal Element, we take a little different tack. We're talking about two essays this time by writer Ellen Birkett Morris, author of the gorgeous story collection Lost Girls

The Nine, published in The Fem, addresses trauma over childhood medical issues, expertly weaving in the nursery rhyme Monday's Child. 

And the deeply political essay Nobody's Home, first published in The Common, describes a nei...

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January 15, 2022 17 min

 Mikhal Weiner writes beautifully--musically--about falling in love for the first time. Join us as we discuss her essay "Barefoot Angels", which first appeared in An Injustice!.  Mikhal transports us from Tel Aviv, where she bravely falls into a same-sex relationship, to Boston, where the two will attend the Berklee College of Music. The women fight to hold on to their relationship through the years in this lyrical essay.

Mu...

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December 15, 2021 28 min

 School shootings are far too common in the US. In the wake of yet another shooting, this time at Oxford High School in Michigan, students and educators try to find a way to feel safe. With grace and aplomb, Megan Doney writes about living through a school shooting at New River Community College in Christiansburg, VA on April 12, 2013. Join Christine and Tavi as they discuss this moving, important work. 

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In this episode, Tavi and Christine discuss Cindy DiTiberio's essay, If You're Not Sure If Your Marriage Will Survive the Pandemic, You're Not Alone, first published in Scary Mommy. Through the lens of Cindy's decision to give her home office to her husband so he can work during the pandemic while she homeschools her kids, the essay covers topics of working, parenting, and being a partner during the pandemic.   

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In this episode, Josh Kozelj writes about how hard it has been for him to open up to his male friends about his feelings. Josh brings in research from acclaimed researchers to ponder why men have a hard time making themselves vulnerable. Originally published in the New York Times. 

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August 19, 2021 2 min

Come listen to our new podcast, The Personal Element, where writers Christine Junge and Tavi Taylor Black listen to essays they love and talk about what makes them so great. 

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In this episode of the podcast, Casey Mulligan reads her heartbreaking and poignant essay, A How To for Desperate Times which was first published in Barren Magazine. Its subjects are parenting, adolescence and young adulthood, decision making, and all you can't protect your children from. Trigger warning: this essay deals (beautifully) with the subject of a young adult's death. 

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August 8, 2021 18 min

In this episode of the Personal Element podcast, Jeanne Bonner reads her essay about recording her child's voice, which was originally published in the New York Times. The essay touches on themes of motherhood, the ephemeral nature of childhood, and how parents capture this special time. 

After the essay, Christine and Tavi discuss the craft of the essay--such as how Jeanne deepens it  with some personal revelations, and what ma...

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In this episode, Personal Element co-host Christine Junge reads her essay about taking control of her body image, which was first published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. It touches on themes of body hatred, body acceptance, weight, and eating disorders.
After the essay, Tavi and Christine discuss Christine's writing process, body image in American culture, the essay's story arc, and more. 

For more information on the podcast,...

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