The Write Question

A weekly literary program from Montana Public Radio that features writers from the western United States.

This Is About Darkness

17 hours ago
vasse nicolas, antoine

The forsythia eats sunlight
near the open barn door
where Bill Perry stands in his overalls watching
his dappled-gray Percheron, Pike.

The largest horse on record was a Percheron,
a mare, twenty-one hands
high. This stallion stands, easy,
at nineteen.

Pike can pull a Cadillac up Humpback Mountain
in a headwind.

About the book:

Meal or menace? No controversy in nutrition is bigger than wheat.

About the book:

In the sweltering heat of a Montana July, the small town of Grandview readies for its annual Jamboree. The event is meant to celebrate community, but this year tensions boil over, threatening to tear the town, and a family, apart.

On a clear day, standing atop a windswept ridge on the southern border of the United States, one can see a hundred miles into Mexico. From the southern horizon, the Sierra Madre range extends north to meet the Rockies along the continent’s spine.

Three haiku verses from Tyler Knott Gregson's forthcoming collection All The Words Are Yours:  Haiku On Love.

I know not the when
or the why of all of this,
I just know it's you.

About the book:

In 1938, nineteen-year-old ranch hand Bud Frazer sets out for Hollywood with his sights set on becoming a stunt rider in the movies–and hoping to rub shoulders with the great screen cowboys of his youth.

Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children's Books

I’m reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn yet again when I hear a noise up on the third floor, where the servants live. Maggy Doyle has a way of being everywhere at once, like a dust storm. Still, I thought she was downstairs.

“Maggy!” I yell.

Not a sound from up above.

Could Papa be back? I would have heard him in the barn. Must be Jing. I jump off the bed and head for the stairs.

Maggy appears in the hall. “Miss Lizzie?”

“Is Jing home?”

Where Do I Sleep?
Andrea Gabriel / Sasquatch Books

Where Do I Sleep? is a board book filled with animal paintings by Andrea Gabriel: gray whales, sea otters, bald eagles, blacktailed deer, gray wolf, brown bat, cougar, garden spider, and red fox. Jennifer Blomgren has written a four-line poem for each baby animal.

"Song of the Powers"

Aug 10, 2015
Bonnie Brezette

Mine, said the stone,
mine is the hour.
I crush the scissors,
such is my power.
Stronger than wishes,
my power, alone.

Mine, said the paper,
mine are the words
that smother the stone
with imagined birds,
reams of them, flown
from the mind of the shaper.

Mine, said the scissors,
mine all the knives
gashing through paper’s
ethereal lives;
nothing’s so proper
as tattering wishes.

About the book:

Andrea Gabriel / Sasquatch Books

Why Do I Sing? is a board book filled with soft watercolor images, painted by Andrea Gabriel, of honeybees, spotted owls, Pacific tree frogs, fin whales, loons. crickets, marmots, red-winged blackbirds, arctic wolves, and meadowlarks. Jennifer Blomgren has written a four-line poem for each vocalist.

"Deer Dance"

Aug 3, 2015
Jim McIntosh

This morning
when the chill that rises up from the ground is warmed,
the snow is melted
where the small deer slept.
See how the bodies leave their mark.
The snow reveals their paths on the hillsides,
the white overcrossing pathways into the upper meadows
where water comes forth and streams begin.
With a new snow the unseen becomes seen.
Rivers begin this way.

About the book:

At a young age, Jessie Close struggled with symptoms that would transform into severe bipolar disorder in her early twenties, but she was not properly diagnosed until the age of fifty.

"Wool Blanket"

Jul 27, 2015
gaakO-o

I slept in the valley
shivering, neck sore
from carrying a dead tree
across my shoulders

I needed the wood
but more
I needed the pain

Raccoon wind
shudders brittle leaves
as when you get a sudden chill
and they say:

"someone has just walked
across your grave"

Twig snaps  –
& I burrow deeper
wishing I had brought
that wool blanket

glad, almost,
that I didn't

The Home Place, by Carrie La Seur, is a mystery novel in which a successful lawyer is pulled back into her troubled family’s life in rural Montana in the wake of her sister’s death.

About the book:

"It's Shifts Of Sideways If She Talks To You"

Jul 20, 2015
2011-12-23
Hettle Price

For the teenager certain she is ugly, it's shifts
of sideways if she talks to you. Words
drop out of her mouth. She tries to get behind herself

and squeeze down
to a gash in the ground.
Oh she would love to roll from her skin

and disgust you. And stick it, yeah, to your candy pity.
She takes a deep breath
and throws her hair around like rocks.

Review of 'Have You Seen My New Blue Socks?'

Jul 15, 2015

Eve Bunting's book, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks chronicles the life of a young duck trying to find a pair of misplaced socks. When I read this story to the fussy 3-year old I encountered in the Buttercup Market, a quaint cafe with fantastic quiche, he delighted in the colorful illustrations of Sergio Ruzzier and almost immediately forgot why he was throwing a tantrum to focus on the task at hand: finding the lost socks belonging to duck.

Carol Bradley, author of Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top, talks about the cruel lives of circus elephants and what we can do to stop it.

About the book:

"Want Song"

Jul 13, 2015

Two musics washing over me, and morning asks,   
which loneliness comes closest to the inky
chromatics inside you?
How can I answer?   
The cricket in the tarantula’s cage
chirrs the next world.
Meanwhile, scraps of Chopin float
up the stairs on my wife’s trilling fingers
which played me whole
worlds ago, last night, when I was buried in weThe Write Question blog

The Happy Campers

Jul 6, 2015
Al_HikesAZ

"Si jeunessa sav ait..."

Leaning into the truck,
grinning into the camera,
they camp out in their adolescence
and my front yard
with the insolent charm
of young colts,
sleek with knowing,
wobbly with experience.

The moment I shoot them
I know this is it:
for grace of limb,
studied slouch
the matching dew rags,
rakish hat I wish I could wear.

After the click
they come back to life as if
the magic just goes on.
The truck jolts into gear and,
with careless wave of hands,
they're gone.

Macy took a sip of her coffee and sank down farther in the seat. Since leaving home, she’d been plagued by the beginnings of a headache. She blamed the third glass of red wine she’d had last night instead of dinner. She’d been nibbling on a bagel for a couple hours, but really needed something more substantial if she was going to make it through the day. The first telephone call from the head of the state police had come at around two in the morning.

About the book:

After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.

Too little? There's no such thing! Featuring die-cut holes, There's No Such Thing as Little is a heartwarming picture book from author and illustrator LeUyen Pham. This book will encourage readers of all ages to think about what being "little" really means. With each turn of the page, a very big idea emerges, with cleverly placed cutouts on each page that help to dispel the readers' perception of which ideas or images are important.

"Is The Ouzel Stupid?"

Jun 29, 2015

Though you've spent
your life practicing,
you still don't seem
to understand
how water works.
You aren't supposed
to bounce
that clear pool
then hop the gravel
bottom of the
fastest current
like a robin on
a courthouse lawn—
or flit back
to your rock
and dip like a fat
boxer at a shadow
without arms.
Birds don't work
that way.
Jesus, nothing works
that way.
I'd sooner believe
a small gray
meatloaf
had paddled
the Mississippi to
the Continental Divide.

From the Wind River Range to the Canadian border, the northern Rocky Mountain West is an outsized land of stunning dimensions and emotive power. In Visions of the Big Sky, Dan Flores revisits the Northern Rockies artistic tradition to explore its diversity and richness. In his essays about the artists, photographers, and thematic historical imagery of the region, he blends art and cultural history with personal reflection to assess the formation of the region’s character.

From the Wind River Range to the Canadian border, the northern Rocky Mountain West is an outsized land of stunning dimensions and emotive power. In Visions of the Big Sky, Dan Flores revisits the Northern Rockies artistic tradition to explore its diversity and richness. In his essays about the artists, photographers, and thematic historical imagery of the region, he blends art and cultural history with personal reflection to assess the formation of the region’s character.

Review of 'I Don't Want to Be a Frog'

Jun 16, 2015

I Don't Want to Be a Frog by first-time author Dev Petty and Canadian illustrator Mike Boldt chronicles a frog's journey of self-discovery, who thinks life would be much better if he were a cat or a rabbit. Kids and parents alike will appreciate and relate to the frog's banter with his matter-of-fact father about the little frog's desire to be something different.

Jake Lukin has an incredible power he's been hiding his whole life...but one (big) mess-up later, and the U.S. government knows all about it. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards. When his family is threatened, Jake has to make a terrible choice.

Niko Pettersen

I hit the town
the way some stranger
steps off a bus...collar up,
head down, feet first.
I said what I could
under my breath,
saw a star hang it up
above the street,
pushed my way past the thought of coffee
(three way clapboard post office,
bus stop, and cafe)
and straight into Lib's Bar.

Four shots later
(my nerves on ice—
head back, collar down,
sacked on my feet)
this cowpoke,
an 8th grader,
lip of snoose,
silver dollar chuckle,
called his shot on cue,
three-banked the eight,

Pages