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Word S11.5 – Romance in Peoria, heartbreak with Susan Vespoli and Cli-Fi with Ross West

On this episode of Word, we discuss a new romance book club in the Valley, how the 2022 shooting of a Valley man by a former Phoenix police officer inspired a collection of poems, and a new collection of climate fiction short stories.  

New Romantics Book Club

The Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria just started the New Romantics Book Club, which meets there monthly.

Librarian Kathie Jackson is its co-creator and we spend a few minutes catching up to talk about the group which is co-hosted by Robynne Rions.

'One of Them Was Mine': Poet loses son in police shooting

Listen to the full conversation with Susan Vespoli and KJZZ host Tom Maxedon


In early 2022, Susan Vespoli appeared on a previous episode of this podcast to discuss her collection of poems titled “Blame it On the Serpent.” Shortly thereafter, her son, Adam Vespoli, was shot and killed by a former Phoenix Police officer.

That loss inspired a 2023 collection of poems titled, “One of Them Was Mine.”

Because a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the city of Phoenix, we weren’t able to discuss the publication until now, after the suit has been settled in her favor.

Vespoli recapped her son’s case and read a poem from her collection inspired by it.

Cli-Fi, or climate fiction

“The Fragile Blue Dot: Stories from Our Imperiled Biosphere” is a new collection of short fiction by Ross West.

He talked about his former role at the University of Oregon, which partly inspired this group of stories.

West prefers not to grandstand in his work — beating drums with sounds of gloom and doom. Instead, he offers more questions than answers in these selections.

KJZZ’s “Word” podcast about literature is made possible by the financial support of listeners like you, who make monthly contributions as sustaining members of KJZZ.

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We’re back May 28 with another series of literary convos.

Thanks so much for listening to and supporting public radio!

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Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.