Keep the Channel Open-logo

Keep the Channel Open

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Making connections through conversation with the art, literature, and creative work that matters to us, and the people who make it. Hosted by writer and photographer Mike Sakasegawa, Keep the Channel Open is a series of in-depth and intimate conversations with artists, writers, and curators from across the creative spectrum.

Making connections through conversation with the art, literature, and creative work that matters to us, and the people who make it. Hosted by writer and photographer Mike Sakasegawa, Keep the Channel Open is a series of in-depth and intimate conversations with artists, writers, and curators from across the creative spectrum.


United States


Making connections through conversation with the art, literature, and creative work that matters to us, and the people who make it. Hosted by writer and photographer Mike Sakasegawa, Keep the Channel Open is a series of in-depth and intimate conversations with artists, writers, and curators from across the creative spectrum.




Episode 129: Ayesha Raees

Ayesha Raees is a poet and hybrid artist based in New York, Miami, and Lahore. In her debut book of poetry, Coining a Wishing Tower, she explores death, grief, culture, religion, separation, and return in a hybrid form that is part poetry, part narrative, part fable, and entirely remarkable. In our conversation, we talked about her book, her writing process, and sustaining a relationship with her work over time. Then in the second segment, we discussed community. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts |...


Episode 128: Anahid Nersessian

Anahid Nersessian is a professor and critic based in Los Angeles, CA. In her latest book, Keats’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse, Anahid takes the reader through close readings of John Keats’s six Great Odes, providing cultural context and explicating their themes of sexual violence, melancholy, and the seductiveness of beauty. More than that, though, the book is, itself, a love story. In our conversation, Anahid and I talked about how and why Keats’s Odes still resonate with readers today, how...


Episode 127: KTCO Book Club - Piranesi (with Maggie Tokuda-Hall)

For this installment of the KTCO Book Club, writer and podcaster Maggie Tokuda-Hall joins us to discuss Susanna Clark’s 2020 novel Piranesi. A relatively slim volume, Piranesi is surprisingly difficult to summarize but, like its labyrinthine setting, with patience and attention the book will reveal its profound beauty and kindness. (Conversation recorded February 24, 2022.) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RadioPublic | Stitcher | Goodpods | TuneIn | RSS Support: Support our...


Episode 126: Yanyi

There’s a way in which the end of a serious relationship can shake your entire concept of yourself, and through your grief you have to find yourself again. Yanyi’s latest book of poems, Dream of the Divided Field, braids poems about heartbreak and implied emotional violence with poems about transition and immigration. Each has a similar but distinct sense of a loss of self, a search for self, a yearning for connection and belonging, a sometimes violent disconnection—to a partner, to a place...


Episode 125: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a writer based in London, UK. Rowan’s second novel, Starling Days, is a beautiful story about the complex love between the book’s two protagonists, Mina and Oscar, and their respective challenges in the wake of Mina’s suicide attempt. Starling Days explores family and love in many forms, and how people both connect and separate. In our conversation, Rowan and I discussed the depiction of mental illness in her book, how she approached writing the multifaceted...


Episode 124: Farrah Karapetian

Farrah Karapetian is an artist based in California. Known for her large-scale photograms, Farrah’s wide-ranging practice incorporates sculpture, performance, and different forms of mark-making to stretch the photographic medium as she is driven by her intense and rigorous curiosity. In our conversation, Farrah and I talked about the appeal of the photographic medium, the tension between constructing an image and the happy accident, and the ethics of artistic beauty. Then in the second...


From the Archive: Ken Rosenthal

Tucson-based photographer Ken Rosenthal's work has always stuck in my mind for both its striking visual style and the way that he uses images to represent and explore his internal emotional and psychological state. Whether he's looking at landscapes or family members or familiar objects, his photographs resonate because they represent the personal. We talked about several bodies of work, including his recent series The Forest and a work in progress called Days On the Mountain. For the second...


Episode 123: KTCO Book Club - Song (with Gabrielle Bates)

For this installment of the KTCO Book Club, poet and podcaster Gabrielle Bates joins me for a conversation about Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s 1994 poetry collection Song. In our conversation, Gabrielle and I talked about how Kelly builds the worlds of her poems, how the poems layer metaphor, and how the poems manage to be simultaneously (and paradoxically) both surreal and grounded. (Conversation recorded February 4, 2021.) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RadioPublic | Stitcher |...


Episode 122: Kary Wayson

Kary Wayson is a poet based in Seattle, WA. The poems Kary’s latest collection, The Slip, are wonderfully slippery in both form and feeling, in a way that demands attention and rewards deep engagement. In our conversation we discussed what a poem can do, how we approach “meaning” in poetry, and how life changes affect our art. Then in the second segment, we talked about time and our human perception of duration. (Conversation recorded January 5, 2021.) Bonus Reading: Subscribers to the...


Remembering Paula Riff

My friend Paula Riff passed away recently, after having been ill with cancer for two years. Paula was a wonderful, kind, generous, and enthusiastic person, and a brilliant artist whose work pushed the boundaries of the photographic medium. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to talk with her about that work for the show. In our conversation, Paula and I talked about what photography is to her, why she’s attracted to alternative processes, and how her work is ultimately autobiographical....


Episode 121: KTCO Book Club - Tender (with Wm Henry Morris)

For this installment of the KTCO Book Club, writer Wm Henry Morris joins me for a conversation about Sofia Samatar’s 2017 story collection Tender. The stories in this collection range from fairy tale and folklore to dystopian sci-fi to (almost) contemporary realism, but all have in common Samatar’s impeccable prose, attention to detail, and exceptional readership. (Conversation recorded December 19, 2020) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RadioPublic | Stitcher | Spotify |...


Episode 120: Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali is a writer based in San Diego, CA. Kazim’s latest poetry collection, The Voice of Sheila Chandra, uses sound to explode meaning and explore silence and voicelessness, bringing together history, philosophy, spirituality, and personal experience to create something truly profound. In our conversation, Kazim and I discussed the divine in art, what the sound of poetry can embody and enact, and the fundamental oneness of human life. Then for the second segment, we talked about...


From the Archive: Rizzhel Mae Javier

Rizzhel Mae Javier is a photographer and installation artist based in San Diego, CA. I first met Rizzhel when we were both participating in the portfolio reviews at the Medium Festival a few years ago, and her stop-motion, flipbook-style pieces immediately caught my attention. More recently, Rizzhel was named one of the 2017 emerging artists by the SD Art Prize for her "Unmentionables" project, creating new art out of old mementos. We had a great conversation for the show about her artistic...


From the Archive: José Olivarez

José Olivarez is a poet living and working in Chicago, Illinois, and is also co-host of one of my all-time favorite podcasts, The Poetry Gods. In our wide-ranging conversation we talked about how The Poetry Gods came to be, toxic masculinity in the poetry world, and how discovering poetry allowed José to find his artistic voice. In the second segment, we talked about beginnings and endings. (This episode was originally released on February 15, 2017. Conversation recorded January 1,...


From the Archive: Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang's debut novel The Border of Paradise was one of my favorite books of 2016. A multigenerational epic centered on an interracial family, the Nowaks, this book touches on so many profound topics, from mental illness to intergenerational trauma to culture clash to the very question of what it means to be a family, all done in stunningly beautiful prose. Esmé and I had a great conversation about her book in the first segment, and in the second segment we chatted about our...


Episode 119: Jordanna Kalman

Jordanna Kalman is a fine art photographer who lives and works in New York. Jordanna’s work explores loneliness, femininity and individuality, and the images are highly personal. In her series Little Romances, she rephotographs prints of earlier images of hers which had been stolen and misused. By considering the prints as objects and adding new elements, she creates a new narrative, examining the anxieties of being a woman and creating a form of protection for the image. In our conversation...


Episode 118: KTCO Book Club - The True Deceiver (with Alyssa Harad)

For this installment of the KTCO Book Club, I’m joined by writer Alyssa Harad for a conversation about Tove Jansson’s 1982 novel The True Deceiver. Despite the slimness of the volume, Jansson’s novel yet contains a surprising degree of depth and complexity, not to mention psychological tension, in a story that challenges the reader to consider the nature of truth, honesty, and different forms of deception. (Conversation recorded September 22, 2020.) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google...


Episode 117: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is a poet and essayist based in Bexley, Ohio. Maggie’s new book Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change was born out of a difficult life change; it both discusses and is an example of resilience and hope in the face of an unknown future. In our conversation, we talked about the book’s origins in a series of social media notes-to-self, about becoming an essayist after having been a poet for so long, and about finding agency through language. Then for the second...


Episode 116: KTCO Book Club - Human Archipelago (with David Naimon)

In the inaugural KTCO Book Club episode I’m joined by writer and podcaster David Naimon, host of the literary podcast Between the Covers. For our conversation, David selected Teju Cole and Fazal Sheikh’s hybrid photo/prose book Human Archipelago. In their collaboration, Cole’s writing and Sheikh’s images support each other in a way that expands the form of the traditional photobook and provides a potent exploration of human migration, national boundaries, imperialism, the connections between...


Episode 115: David Adjmi

David Adjmi is a writer and playwright based in Los Angeles, CA. In his new memoir Lot Six, David tells the story of how he found himself through art and the theater, growing up feeling like an outsider as a gay, atheist, artistic youth in a small and insular Syrian Sephardic Jewish community in Brooklyn. In our conversation, David and I discussed the craft of memoir, the process of constructing one’s own identity, and why his book isn’t structured like the typical gay narrative. Then in the...