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Letter from the Executive Director: Marfa for Beginners

Marfa for Beginners
Mishka Westell
Marfa for Beginners

During my first year running Marfa Public Radio, a TV show was being shot in town. One day, while I was meeting with a reporter, we were interrupted by the film crew. They asked if we would pause what we were doing to be extras in a scene. It was meta; we were in the middle of a meeting about stories in Marfa, and suddenly, we were acting in someone else’s version of the story. It made me consider the narratives told about this place. I started to keep a running list of the articles written about Marfa– travel guides, art reviews, fashion pieces, and profiles. What struck me was that most of them said the same thing.

The things that stand out to me about this place are different than the things I read about it. It’s the fact that a Virgin of Guadalupe apparition appeared on a pecan tree in town. The fact of how hard or beautiful it can be to find love here. There are psychological realities that only exist when you live in a small town– paranoia, claustrophobia, or a sense that time has disappeared. But mostly it’s the people who make it what it is– someone trying to make sense of feeling like a stranger in her own hometown. Or the six foot tall extrovert who will always invite you to the party. This podcast has been in the works since that first year at the station.

The aim of Marfa for Beginners is to be like an album, to hit different notes of human experience: wonder, love, change, existential dread, loneliness, and generosity. In many ways it is a love letter to Marfa, a place full of contradictions where the truth can be both beautiful and complicated.

It was a pleasure to work with Zoe Kurland and Sally Beauvais to bring this podcast to you. It was an honor to collaborate with Josh Franco and Sam Salazar on episodes. Thank you to the neighbors, friends, and strangers who let us sit in their kitchens, follow them around with mics, and act out their lives. What I see over and over again is that, at the end of the day, we’re all trying to figure out how to make sense of our lives.

Marfa for Beginners is a tourism podcast for locals. Our hope is that if you live here, this podcast might make you laugh and cry. Maybe it will feel therapeutic.

This podcast is dedicated to the memory of Lonn Taylor, who knew how to live and how to tell stories. It is also dedicated to the small towns that span this country with unique and universal stories of human experience, and the small stations that serve them including the team at Marfa Public Radio dedicated to serving you.

Marfa Public Radio’s first podcast, Marfa For Beginners, is launching September 13th.

Listen to our trailer, and subscribe to Marfa for Beginners anywhere you get your podcasts.

Elise Pepple is Executive Director at Marfa Public Radio.