The Write Question

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

During this program, Christine Byl talks about her memoir, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which describes her experiences working on trail crews in national parks in Montana and Alaska.

"Light"

Jan 13, 2014

An artist places the intangible
              and tangible objects on the table together:
drift of diamond light from the Sky of the Mind
with the Asian poppy, the plate of wild seedling plums.

The direction is set, sun caught in eastern branches
when our empty hands have their other side of fullness.
              Still life: morning star. Moon.
Dawn. The sun (who is A Bird Singing in the Moonlight).

Andrew R. Graybill talks about and reads from The Red and The White: A Family Saga of the American West, in which he writes about Malcolm Clarke and the Blackfoot Nation of Montana.

About the book:

"Indian Brother"

Jan 6, 2014

April 1945

He came to us wrapped in Mother's blue sweater,
his crippled sister, Mary Jane,
murdered by a drunk.
Three days old, Clarence was his name.
"A sissy name," said Mama. "His name is Joey."

She made him a red bunting with white fur.
His hair, shiny black, stood straight
as beaver points on a Hudson Bay blanket.

His serious, brown self seemed lost
in the fancy wicker cradle that could never
be a cradleboard.

Jamie Ford (Great Falls, Montana) talks about and reads from his second novel, Songs of Willow Frost. He also talks about west coast Chinese culture in the early 20th century.

About the book:

"January in Montana"

Dec 30, 2013

Light from the sky is precious like sips
of hot tea, a luxury, elite. On my drive
to work, I pass through wetlands filled
with Canadia geese and hawks.
Morning frost drapes the hood
of my car in wet velvet. Fog lifts from
ponds: a lace shawl hugging
curves of the water's edge.

Dead weeds in fields join mounds
of stone sugared under hoarfrost.
Snowflakes fluttering,
inexhaustible lovers waltzing.

During this program, Wyoming author Alyson Hagy talks about and reads from her novel Boleto. She also tells the story behind the story, which involves a young man she met seven years before writing the book.

About the Book:

"Solstice Poem 2005"

Dec 23, 2013

                                      -- for my friends, especially Ken Brewer

Today I glimpsed
a short-eared owl above
a rise just south
of Little Mountain.
Gone, when I looked again.

Of course this is metaphor
for the beauty and brevity
of life and for tragedy.
The owl will kill,
the owl will die.

At home, at dusk, in snow,
I hauled cut flood-wood
from the other side
of the river then
stacked logs by the willows

Brandon Schrand talks about the influence reading literature had on his early life, when he was a boy growing up in Soda Springs, Idaho, and during the seven years he spent muddling his way through college (the first person in his family to go to college). He also reads several passages from his second memoir, Works Cited:  An Alphabetical Odyssey of Mayhem and Misbehavior.

About the Book:

Even as bones they were sublime, the sky-
scraping brachyo- an brontosauri,
tree-boned haunches, handfuls of arm-length claws,
T. Rex with teeth uncountable as stars.
In my mind, they were fleshed, they ripped and gnawed.
Crossing Central Park at dusk, I'd see
the giants grazing still, the swaying treetops
hiding some great nibbling head, and hear
them in the ground-juddering thunder
as our subway shot like progress from the dark.
Then swallowed us, like some great whale or ark.

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