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American Prophets

The first book of transcribed interviews from our historic radio archive, American Prophets

includes sixteen interviews taken from the best of over 600 conducted by Seattle poet Paul E Nelson. The book includes an A-List of luminaries who have dedicated their professional careers to deep, positive changes through a focus on whole-systems thinking and activation of creative approaches so individuals and society flourish. Grouped in three segments: Thinkers/Activists: Gloria DeGaetano, Rupert Sheldrake, Jean Houston, Larry Dossey, M.D. Poets: Jerome Rothenberg, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Brenda Hillman and Nathaniel Mackey and Technicians of the Sacred: Phyllis Curott, Bhagavan Das, E.Richard Atleo and Beaver Chief, the interviews show the way to a more just, healthy, creative and sustainable future.

From Greg Bem’s 2019 review in Yellow Rabbits:

The interviews that are captured in this book from years (and decades) past reveal Nelson’s passion and compassion for the brilliant shine of the human mind that co-occupies the world and the contemporary humanity through which Nelson conducts his own artistic practices. Each interview is startlingly different and yet in sum can be looked at as descriptive of Nelson’s own open-minded spirit.


Taken mostly from radio programs that arguably was designed for a very open audience, the interviews here are light-hearted and beautifully intimate exchanges between Nelson and those who invited to chat. I believe every interview contains at least one moment of humor (with laughter indicated in the transcript), which reflects another aspect of Nelson’s character. As we saw in American Sentences, Nelson-as-poet carries humor as one of the handful of universal tools that can make truth accessible, approachable, and tolerable. Because none of these messages, none of these truths, are easy and straightforward—most require work just to understand the work of those experts within the dialogue. A joke here and then takes the interview that much further.


Unlike many interviews we encounter online and in snippets, these full-length moments between Nelson and his subjects, his invitees, are at once lengthy and natural. They feel legitimate and at the same time the transcription reflects a fantastic degree of craft and a humbling degree certainty. American Prophets will hopefully be just the first of multiple books if interviews Nelson releases. Its potential to impact is strong. Ideally it has the additional potential to inspire a new, emerging sense of belonging that will increase our drive for interviews, for conversations, to triumph over the age of the echo and those vacuous monologues so prevalent today.