The Write Question

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


Dave Pijuan-Nomura

by Joe Wilkins

Isn't it a shame, my grandmother said,
silver fork in her shivering fist,

how we have to go on eating?
We were sitting up to burnt chuck,

potatoes in their dirty jackets,
and hunks of Irish brown bread,

Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals blends travel memoir with poetry to recount Marc Beaudin's days of hitchhiking and road trip adventures.

Random House for Young Readers

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High, by Lisa Yee takes place, unsurprisingly, at Super Hero High, which is a high school for young super heroes. It is basically a typical high school except for the fact that they are super heroes who are pretty much just meeting each other. At the end we meet Super Girl. She isn’t mentioned through the rest of the book, though. This book was fun and even though I’m not really big on super heroes, I was surprised I was interested in it. I liked it because it offered some back story on some of the evilest villains and best superheroes of all time. For example, it offers back story on Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn (like harlequin, get it?!), Wonder Woman, and there is also Beast Boy, which is interesting, I have to admit.

Medora 2013

For those who love it, and for those who've never heard of this classic bit of cowboy humor:

by Wallace McCrea

"What does Reincarnation mean?"
A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, "It happens when
Yer life has reached its end.
They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck,
And clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box
Away from life's travails."

Sam Kelvig, a third-generation resident, will do just about anything to protect Grandview from the influx of new oil money and the strangers chasing it. Meanwhile, his restless wife, Patricia, wearies of the constraints of marriage to a man who is so tied to his community; Sam’s estranged son, Norby, has reluctantly returned home despite the family’s struggle with accepting his sexuality; Henrik, Sam’s volatile brother, is looking for any easy opportunity; and Blanche, the family matriarch, only wants a bit of peace before she dies.

"Hello, Hippo! Good bye, Bird!" is fun picture book written by Utah author Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Argentinian artist Poly Bernatene. The book is intended for children ages 3-7.

Bird wants to be friends with Hippo, but Hippo wants to be left alone. Bird tells Hippo jokes. Hippo wants Bird to go away. Even though Bird makes himself into an umbrella and keeps bugs off of Hippo by eating them, Hippo still wants Bird to leave him alone. But then, after Bird is gone and a thunderstorm comes, Hippo starts to think he has made a mistake.

You and Me and Him, by Kriss Dinnison
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Maggie and Nash are outsiders: She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. They’re best friends, and they’ve helped each other survive their small-minded small town. But when Tom moves to Cedar Ridge at the start of the school year they have something unexpected in common—feelings for the same guy.

In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her graduate degree at Yale and followed her husband, an Indonesian prince and community activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. Together with ten friends and an ever-changing mix of strangers, they began to build their vision of utopia.

'For Myself'

Apr 4, 2016
Bill Walsh

by Lois Red Elk

This day, I adorn braided
sweet grass earrings handed
down from Mother's Santee
rings of aromatic medicine.

From the ancestor lands of
Father's Lakota family, I fill
pockets with handfuls of
cedar, my protective shield.

Into this circle of morning
spirit food, a prayer surfaces
from the Southern recess of
primal night-dwelling dreams.

I thank the Western powers,
where a mirror reflects
images of the ones I trust—
transparent photos of the

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:

A recently-widowed doctor, stunned by grief, retreats to a cabin on Montana's Rocky Mountain Front. Inside she has a puppy and a stack of letters from an old lover. Outside, there's a bear. As she revisits the letters from Tom Connor, we come to see, through his eyes, the dusty, broken alleys of Central America during the war years. The two narratives taken together explore themes of life-long love, about what we can see only when we are ready to see, and how hope can grow in the darkest of places. The third in what the author sees as his "homecoming trilogy" (after Hunger in American and Ben Armstrong's Strange Trip Home), Tom Connor's Gift shines a light on the transformative act of storytelling.