Soundings: Season 1 Episode 3

Thad Ziolkowski

The award-winning author on surfing and addiction, the double-edged nature of the surfing life, and meditation.

Light / Dark

Thad Ziolkowski’s most recent book, The Drop, illuminates the connection between waves, addiction, and recovery, exploring what surfing can teach us about the powerful undertow of addictive behaviors and the ways to swim free of them. As a lifelong surf-junkie, it clarified things I’d felt but never quite understood. The prose is dazzling. Many of our surf gods are featured in it.

I first encountered Thad via On a Wave, his award-winning surf memoir. At the time I lived in the East Village. When I learned that he taught creative writing at one of NYC’s prominent liberal arts colleges, I shot him an email. We’ve been good friends ever since. Thad lives with his family in Montclair, New Jersey. He’s the Associate Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the Graduate Center, CUNY. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Bookforum, Artforum, and Interview. He has a PhD in English Literature from Yale University and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In this episode we talk about surfing and addiction, the acceptance of substance use in the arts, the double-edged nature of the surfing life, and the benefits of meditation.—Jamie Brisick

More of Thad and The Drop here.

Producer: Jonathan Shifflett
Music: Little Wings

Feature image by Christopher Gabello.