Neena Pathak is a writer, producer, and editor whose work has appeared in podcasts like Invisibilia (NPR), This American Life, Another Round (BuzzFeed), The Daily and Still Processing (The New York Times). Her work has been honored by the Pulitzer Prize Board, National Press Foundation, Asian American Journalists Association, Hearsay International Audio Festival, and Third Coast International Audio Festival. Neena was a Monson Arts Resident in September 2023.

1) What was the best part for you about being at Monson Arts? 

The time to focus, space to write and listen to audio recordings, and community to make and share with.  Learning about each other’s making processes (the hows and whys, the highs and lows, the weird) felt like a gift.

2) What’s your focus with your work now that you’ve left Monson Arts?

I’m still making audio documentaries and podcasts, writing and editing and listening and listening and listening.   

3) Name 3-5 writers/artists/directors and/or books/works/films that continue to inspire you. 

I love the filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I think her beautiful documentary, “Dick Johnson is Dead,” inspired the smell documentary I was working on at Monson.  

I’m moved by the poetry of Mosab Abu Toha, and how he talks about art and writing especially amidst the heaviest horrors of our current genocide in Gaza.  I like listening to him reading his poems, like here in conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye.  His work reminds me of that Nina Simone line, “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”     

Undrowned” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs is one of the best books I read this year.  I liked this bit: “Could we communicate more like manatees, who stay in communication in all kinds of emergencies, place their bodies in a way that protects children, touch each other to remember and know?”