Ira Wood is an author, a teacher, a former publisher, and the host of a weekly radio program called The Lowdown on WOMR-FM, Cape Cod’s Community Radio Station, a Pacifica affiliate with studios in Provincetown, Massachusetts. You’re Married to HER? his new book of autobiographical essays was released in August, 2012.
Ira’s three novels are The Kitchen Man, Going Public, and Storm Tide, co-authored by Marge Piercy, with whom he has also written So You Want to Write, an award-winning book about the craft of writing fiction and memoirs which is based on their popular course. His short pieces have been published in ‘Ploughshares,’ ‘Tikkun,’ ‘Fifth Wednesday,’ ‘The St. Petersburg Review,’ and the ‘Utne Reader’ among many literary magazines. In 1996 he and Marge Piercy established the Leapfrog Press, an internationally distributed ‘boutique’ publishing company, which the Boston Globe called “the pulse of what’s hot in the publishing world.” Although they sold it in 2007 it has continued their mission of publishing cutting edge literature and has more than tripled in size.
Ira has been praised for his ability to work with writing students to overcome the inner censor, his darkly funny and wildly confessional readingss from his own work, and his lectures on everything from the publishing industry, to obsessional gardening to using the Tao Te Ching as guide to governing a small New England town. For over a decade he has taught regularly at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, the Rowe Conference Center, and more recently Kripalu.
While an editor at Leapfrog he specialized in the resurrection of near misses: books that had come close to being published by mainstream New York publishers but lacked certain elements, sometimes just big numbers for the author’s previous books, but that notwithstanding, a compelling beginning, a tighter plot, a selling title, or simply a great marketing campaign—as wll as the patience to keep a book in print until it found its audience. With a hand in the marketing of every one of Leapfrog’s books, his small press titles received national media attention, some becoming regional best sellers, BookSense and best-of-the-year picks.
For over 30 years Ira has made his home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, a small fishing village celebrated for its oysters, art galleries, and the colony of well known writers, architects, painters and intellectuals who have settled in this rugged outpost near the tip of Cape Cod. Indulging his interest in public affairs, he has spent over twenty years in town government, serving for twelve years as a selectman—one of a board of five women and men elected the principal administrative officers of the town.
Zazen meditation is an important practice for him as is organic gardening, which he indulges with far too much passion resulting in way too many tomatoes. In 2010 he began hosting a series of bi-monthly political debates on public radio which morphed into a weekly interview show called The Lowdown, which airs on WOMR/WFMR-FM (broadcasting the length of Cape Cod and the North and South shores of Boston). Interviewing authors, politicians, activists, and newsmakers, enables him to indulge a lifelong compulsion to pester people with questions. His essays and book reviews are often aired on the station’s Friday news magazine.
Ira’s writing tends to reflect his life experience. His first novel, The Kitchen Man, details the secret life of a gourmet waiter. His second, Going Public, is set in the early years of the burgeoning dot.com industry, while Storm Tide considers politics in a New England town. You’re Married to HER?, a collection of essays is a compendium of tales about sex, drugs, teaching, politics, publishing, and everything he did instead of writing.
Since 1982 he has been married to the poet/novelist Marge Piercy. They live on four hilly acres of land surrounded by pine and oak forest, midway between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. They share their space with six cats (again, way too many).