The Write Question

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

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Frances Abbey.

“What is the worst that can happen?” she asked herself. “Humiliation? Dad’s disownment ?  Those are possibilities but not in the same category as being beaten, or thrown in jail.”

Spokane author Sharma Shields talks about and reads from her novel The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac.

"The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac is deeply strange and strangely moving. Like Kafka's The Metamorphosis, it demands and rewards surrender."

— Richard Russo

About the book:

Emanuela Franchini

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Joanna Pocock.

"Which Last"

Mar 2, 2015

In the thicket just west of my shack,
under the heaviest of canopied pines,

every day, all winter long, two does recline
and rest, and sometimes when I look

from the window their eyes are closed,
but still they go on chewing whatever

snowbound vegetation they've uncovered—
or just their sad, inadequate cuds, I suppose.

As I suppose my daily apple also
is due to them. I've been a little slow to learn

not to throw the core and make them run,
but to toss it gently between us, like so.

Rafter Bard Morgans https://www.flickr.com/photos/rafterbardmorgans

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Marged Bernstein.

It's barely 5 a.m. and Tess is outside talking to the moon backlighting the movie set that is rural Montana's Hi-Line.

“Damn cowboys,” she says, thinking about how Billy had dumped her.

S.M. Hulse talks about the characters in her debut novel Black River. She also reads passages from the book.

About the book:

Tambako the Jaguar, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Geoffrey Taylor.

"Muriel"

Feb 23, 2015

My mother held out for tangerines.
They were more willing than the orange,
Rare as China, still, and carried the
Thought, which was never spoken,
That life was no more than that.
Peeling them now in the darkened
Kitchen, the taste of them almost in
My mouth. A mouth forged
From the soft melding of two others
Slipping open like caves found
In darkness, moistening the sweet,
Heavy air that fell between them
With the thought that was never spoken.
My thumbs enter the skin
No differently than did those

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Derin Dorsett.

The weight above her eyebrows felt heavier and heavier, creating a deep wrinkle.

“Are you mad?” her daughters teased her and giggled.

The joy from those giggles didn’t erase the furrow.

Jessie Close talks about and reads from her memoir, Resilience: Two Sisters And A Story Of Mental Illness.

About the book:

For our 50th Anniversary Short Fiction Contest, we asked you to send a 700-word, or less, story in which Montana Public Radio is mentioned in some way. We'll be accepting entries until March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced in April. This story is by Mark Leichliter.

Kim Zupan talks about his debut novel, The Ploughmen. He also talks about his writing process and reads passages from the book.

About the book:

A young sheriff and a hardened killer form an uneasy and complicated bond in this mesmerizing first novel set on the plains of Montana.

Steeped in a lonesome Montana landscape as unyielding and raw as it is beautiful, Kim Zupan's The Ploughmen is a new classic in the literature of the American West.

Molly Gloss talks about and reads from her novel Falling From Horses. She also tells what she knows about the welfare of animals that appear in movies, particularly westerns.

About the book:

I was there
as the rain
hesitated;

drizzle contemplated
itself.

I could feel
the world changing
its mind.

Until the drops
thickened into
glycerine.

Like I was there
at snow's invention.

The sound changes,
you know,
once the snowflakes
hit the ground
they decide
to rejoin

The day was wild with certainty.
For a small moment there,
I knew what matters.

Laura Pritchett talks about and reads from Stars Go Blue, a novel in which a Colorado rancher and his wife deal with his diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

About the Book:

"Winter Feeding"

Jan 26, 2015

for Ralph

It must be the kind of work.
The hauling, the pitching,
the sour bale we heave aside,
the extra strength that takes.
It must be the crafty figuring—
Let's short tonight. Hell, we
spread extra last night.

What he would say to that,
the joke he would make.
The off-chance falling star
that caught him wide-eyed
on top of the stack. Wrassling
the froze-up end of a bale,
cutting and cutting twine
that won't let go The knife
that won't close right in fingers
clumsy with cold.

David Allan Cates talks about and reads from his latest novel, Tom Connor's Gift, about which Bryan Di Salvatore writes, "Coursing between anecdote and musing, this is a novel only grownups can understand. It is smart and ecstatic and it will break your goddamn heart."

About the book:

Elissa Washuta talks about and reads from her memoir, My Body is a Book of Rules.

About the book:

"Sacrilege in Monterey"

Jan 12, 2015

Just down the street
From the Guilded Cage
Where James Dean married
Some guy in gold chiffon

The graffiti above the urinal
In the Bull's Eye
Tavern is quite explicit
As we piss away the day

"Sacred cow makes the best hamburger."

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Bill Allard / Bill Allard

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific The Write Question programs students have listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Award-winning nature writer Gary Ferguson talks about and reads from his memoir The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness.

About the book:

Bill Allard / Bill Allard

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific The Write Question programs students have listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Rachel Toor talks about and reads from her YA novel On The Road To Find Out.

About The Book:

"Frosted Marsh"

Dec 29, 2014

Marsh-grass like a bank creature, black-footed and salt-tipped. Twilight
in the water grown tinsel. You're drawn to them heavily, a clarity
stilled, waiting for the body to catch up. No more events, parties, no
more running ahead but here with the fever, with what is wrong. The
evenings will be long. You will be alone and scared. This familiar out-
of-season, not of harvest but of fast, thrift and reticence, faced with
the same flaws. Look, the ghosts are calling. Will you ignore them

Peter Stark talks about and reads from ASTORIA: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival.

About the Book:

In 1810, John Jacob Astor sent out two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness, and greed to shape the destiny of a continent.

Adrianne Harun talks about missing girls and women along "The Highway of Tears"' in British Columbia. And explains why she chose the color white to represent evil in her novel A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain.

About the Book:

Not Ursa Major, whose outer edge
points at Polaris, our North Star,
or the seven sisters of the Pleiades,
the six daughters of Atlas who shine
dark nights for the one who is lost,
but the little slate-black river bird
always rocking and bobbing
to an inner music at the edges
of ice, slick stone and cold water.
The one who flies low and goes
down under the surface to see
what the fish and the water spirits see,
down in the current where sun
and stars stream and smooth
the hard edges, regrets and fears,

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific The Write Question programs students have listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

During this program Kate Cholewa talks about and reads from her debut novel, Shaking Out The Dead.

About the Book:

Geneva is a 62-year-old woman for whom love is a lesson.

Paris is a 29-year-old man for whom love is a feat.

Tatum is a 34-year-old woman for whom love is a tragedy.

But because love is none of these things, none know love.

Over the course of four seasons in Southwestern Montana, all of that will change.

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific The Write Question programs students have listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

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