Ira Wood is the host of a weekly interview program called The Lowdown on WOMR-FM, the Pacifica Radio Network affiliate station with studios in Provincetown, Massachusetts, broadcasting to Cape Cod and the south shore of Boston. For over five years the show has covered national and local trends.
Interviewing authors, politicians, and scientists, as well as cops, junkies, farmers, and comedians, has enabled him to indulge a lifelong compulsive curiosity. His guests have included the famous and infamous, but rarely the vapid. In his experience, there are no boring guests or subjects, only unprepared and self-indulgent interviewers. His 5-minute essays, which he calls ‘Rooneys’ in homage to the radio and television writer Andy Rooney, air most Fridays at the end of the station’s weekly news magazine.
Ira’s writing tends to reflect his 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 dotcom industry, while Storm Tide considers the dark side of politics in a New England town. You’re Married to HER? is a collection of autobiographical essays about sex, drugs, teaching, politics, publishing, and everything he did instead of writing. So You Want to Write is co-authored by Marge Piercy and stems from the workshop they’ve been teaching for many years at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and similar venues nationwide. It’s an award-winning text about the craft of writing fiction and memoirs.
In 1996 he and 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.” Sold in 2008 it has greatly expanded in size and continues to publish cutting edge literature by well-known and emerging writers.
While Managing Editor at Leapfrog Ira specialized in the resurrection of near misses: books that had come close to being published by mainstream publishers but lacked certain elements, sometimes just big numbers for the authors’ previous books, a compelling beginning, a tighter plot, a selling title, or simply a great marketing campaign—as well 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.
Originally from the New York City area, he lived in Cambridge, MA, before settling in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, a small fishing village known for its oysters, its art galleries, and the colony of writers, architects, painters, and intellectuals who have embraced life in a rugged outpost near the tip of Cape Cod.
Indulging his passion for public affairs, he served four terms as a selectman—one of a board of five women and men elected the principal administrative officers of the town— although his attempts to govern according to the precepts of the Tao Te Ching were a categoric failure.
Zazen meditation is an important practice as is organic gardening, in which he indulges with far too much passion resulting in way too many tomatoes. Disposing of the excess in ‘grants’ to friends, he and Piercy are known locally as The MacArthur Foundation of Vegetables.
Ira married the poet/novelist Marge Piercy in 1982. 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 four cats (again, way too many).