The Write Question

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

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.

James Lee Burke talks about his latest Dave Robicheaux crime novel, Light of the World. He also reads a passage from the book and drops a few hints about his next novel.

The music in this program was written and performed by John Floridis.

"Beside the Road While Our Nation Is at War"

May 26, 2014
Kim Stafford
writer, western U.S., poet

In our son's young hand,
borrowed from the ground in California,
five acorns glisten and roll.
"Dad! These could be bullets!
Will you help me make a gun?"

His eyes look up into mine.

"Or Dad! They could be magic
seeds! Will you help me make
a bag with a hole—so
they drop along the path
and grow?" I take his hand in mine.

"Little friend, we must decide."

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During this program, Minerva Allen talks about her role as a guardian of tribal culture. She also reads from her collection of poetry, Nakoda Sky People, and from Stories from the Elders: Nakoda Horse Society.

"Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders"

May 19, 2014
Gary Short
poet, teacher, Nevada author

At recess a boy ran to me
with a pink rubber ball and asked
if I would kick it to him. He handed me the ball,
then turned and ran
and ran and ran, not turning back
until he was far out in the field.
I wasn't sure I could kick the ball
that far. But I tried,
launching a perfect and lucky kick.
The ball sailed in a beautiful arc
about eight stories high,
landed within a few feet of the 3rd grader
and took a big bounce off the hard playground dirt.
Pleased, I turned to enter the school building.

During this program, Josh Hanagarne talks about his memoir, The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family, an inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

From the publisher:

"A Tribute to Chief Joseph (1840?—1904)

May 12, 2014
Duane Niatum
Klallam Tribe, Native American, poet

"God made me an Indian, but not a reservation Indian."  —Sitting Bull

Hin-Mah-Too-Yah-Lat-Ket: Thunder-rolling-in-the-mountains,
never reached with his people,
the Wal-lam-wat-kins, Canada's promised land.
Instead, the fugitive chief sits in a corner of the prison car
clicking its way to Oklahoma.
Chained to his warriors, he is like a featherless eagle
forced to look at a sky colorless as a square.

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