The Write Question

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

TWQ producer Chérie Newman, Barbara Theroux, manager of Fact & Fiction Bookstore in Missoula, and Zed talk about recently-published books by authors from the western U.S.


How To Read the American West:  A Field Guide, by William Wycokoff

Hiking Montana:  35th Anniversary Edition, by Bill Schneider an Russ Schneider


Jun 30, 2014

Are you frickin' kidding me?
Yes, Jada, woman, sister, yes
I am. Smile, Jada, there is more
to laugh at than you know.

In Haida, you pronounce the J.
Jada. It means woman. It says
sister, and in this matriarchal culture
gone to hell in a hand basket or a highbrow
hat that one woman remembers how to weave,
it is one hell of a handle, hell
for a fifteen year old to handle. Jada
who in the hell were they frickin kidding
when they named you?

Newspaper columnist and Montana rancher, Richard Geary, talks about rural culture then and now, and reads some of his essays.

Richard Geary is the eldest of the fourth generation to operate the family ranch in Helmville, Montana. The property was homesteaded by his great grandfather in 1867, and the original farm in Ireland is still in the family.  Richard acts as bookkeeper for the ranch, while his brother is responsible for the actual management. 

"Pow-wow Fever"

Jun 23, 2014

In a few days it strikes
Everyone in Indian Country,
Be Canada or wherever.

Drums vibrating,
The high pitched tones carry a chant.

Laughter of children,
Whispering of lovers,
Not too old or young to join.
Tipis, tents, campers and trailers
Stand symbolic as the sun sets.

The night carries many songs:
Contests, 49's, doorway songs and
owl songs,
"I will take you home,
in my one-eyed Ford!"

Jungle of Bones, a children's novel by Ben Mikaelsen
WWII bomber, Papau New Guinea, children's book, Montana author

Children's author Ben Mikaelsen talks about his inspiration for Jungle of Bones and reads from the novel.

About the Book:

Dylan gets caught taking a joyride in a stolen car and shipped off to live with his ex-Marine uncle for the summer. But Uncle Todd has bigger plans for Dylan than just early-morning jogs.

"This Morning"

Jun 16, 2014

“Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?”
                                    – Roethke

It’s time. It’s almost too late.
Did you see the magnolia light its pink fires?
You could be your own, unknown self.
No one is keeping it from you.

The magnolia lights its pink fires
daffodils shed papery sheaths.
No one is keeping you from it—
your church of window, pen and morning.

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.

"Little Girl"

Jun 9, 2014

She's with Grandma in front
of Grandma's house, backed
by a willow tree, gladiola and roses.

Who did she ever want
to please? But Grandma
seems half-pleased and annoyed.

No doubt Mother frowns
behind the lens, wants
to straighten this sassy face.

Maybe laughs, too.
Little girl with her mouth wide,
tongue out, yelling

at the camera. See her little
white purse full of treasure,
her white sandals?

She has things to do,
you can tell. Places to explore
beyond the frame,

During this program, Molly Caro May talks about her nomadic childhood and her search for a place to "be from." She also reads from her new memoir, The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place.

"A Sonnet for Everett Ruess"

Jun 2, 2014

You walked into the radiance of death
through passageways of stillness, stone, and light,
gold coin of cottonwoods, the spangled shade,
cascading song of canyon wrens, the flight
of scarlet dragonflies at pools, the stain
of water on a curve of sand, the art
of roots that crack the monolith of time.

You knew the crazy lust to probe the heart
of that which has no heart that we could know,
toward the source, deep in the core, the maze,
the secret center where there are no bounds.