The Write Question

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

"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.

During this program TWQ producer Chérie Newman talks with Barbara Theroux, manager of Fact & Fiction Bookstore, and Zed about recently-published books written by authors from the western U.S. -- fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, for adults and children.

"The Snow In Wyoming"

Dec 9, 2013

...let's see what words you'll use to write the poems you write today, dreaming of Wyoming.
                       -
Miguel d'Ors

The dream will go wherever I go, luminous and dense
with its immovable rock ridge and water
cascading over red or yellow hillsides,
depending on the light,
                  while a buffalo's forehead
clears a path through the snow.

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

During this program Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford talks about and reads from his latest novel, Canada. He also considers character motivation, aging, the usefulness of fiction, and the many border crossings in the novel.

About the book:

First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

"Toys 'R' War"

Dec 2, 2013

Hey kid!
Need a gun for Christmas?
How 'bout a land mine, grenade launcher
or poison dart?
Wanna go to the virtual reality world
and beat down homeless people?
Hey kid!
We have loaded dice,
hemlock rice,
'n' 28 flavors of body lice.
We have cartoons of a baby buggy
loaded with 30 lbs. of TNT
exploding in a crowded Baghdad street market,
and our laser swords will glow
through Silent Night,
O Holy Night.

Kate Lebo has created a delightful commonplace book that includes poetry, recipes, illustrations, and a twisty new form of folk wisdom. The conversation during this program includes the definition of a commonplace book, as well as perfect pie crust tips, pie quotes ("We ought to make the pie higher." - George W. Bush), and aphorisms.

About the book:

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Giving Thanks, A Few Years Later

Nov 25, 2013

The sliding barn door slams against the far wall
winter light pours in like water through floodgates
dust floats in trapped sun

I reach up and grab the feet
of one more stunned and screaming
blue-green-brown Naragansett turkey
roosting in the rafters

Quick, he's upside down, wings spread out
heavy body bouncing
against the right hip of my spattered coveralls

100 turkeys, 8 friends, 3 days before Thanksgiving

Henry Real Bird talks about Crow Indian culture and reads poems from his new collection, Wolf Teeth. He also sings a poem.

About Henry Real Bird's poetry:

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

"Pick Up"

Nov 18, 2013

What kind of finger to point? At which
map showing which right or southern turn? On
the newly poured shoulder, tar sucks at my shoe

I'm willing to walk out here alone, gravel grinding
my heel, gray day and the surface of the road
one continual oatmeal. No one thumbs

a ride on the frontage road but me
so no one stops but you. Stories of fingers
in the psychopath's pocket, suspicion float back

and forth in our first stumbling exchange.
You need me for company. I settle grateful.
Highway lengthens toward silence, hazard lights

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Gwen Florio talks about her transition from newspaper reporter to fiction author and the process of writing her mystery novel Montana, the first in a new series. She also reads two passages from the book.

About the Book:

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 programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

"Complexity"

Nov 4, 2013

What didn't work the first time
won't work the tenth. This is true
of everything structured by desire
which continues to beat against walls
as if they can dissolve with repetition.

This is a problem in all relationships
that begin in image and end in dreams
that nag though night with what
never was and could not be.
In between these stages comes touch.

Spokane author Sharma Shields talks about the stories in her collection, Favorite Monster, winner of an Autumn House Fiction Prize. She also reads two short passages from the book.

About the book:

"River"

Oct 28, 2013

Do not murder the man whose
grandfather stole land from
your grandfather. Do not make
your grandchildren, who will
love you no matter what, decide
whether or not to tell the truth or
live like hollow stems.

Don't let rage become a flash
flood, or a lightning bolt that
strikes you again and again.

Would you save every tissue you
blew snot into? No, we cannot
save everything.

Maybe we can't save anything
or anybody except ourselves.

During this program, Christopher White talks about and reads from his book The Melting World: A Journey Across America’s Vanishing Glaciers.

About The Book:

"We Are the Spirits of These Bones"

Oct 21, 2013

We have been with these bones
for a long time
and we are beginning to feel
a whole lot better now
that these bones are back among the Cheyenne people on their Reservation.

But we are troubled for another reason.
We want to travel on
now that these bones are safely buried.
They have now been properly put to rest.

Bigfork, Montana, author Leslie Budewitz talks about and reads from Death Al Dente, the first book in her new Food Lovers' Village Mystery Series.

About the Book:

"October Aspens"

Oct 14, 2013

I see pale yellow aspen leaves
along the shaded background mountainside
which quake and quiver in the slightest wind
as if they are determined to maintain
their named identity in bold defiance
of the seasons' change to duller hues—
and share their mood of glum diminishing.
         So what is it about this momentary glow
of quaking yellow aspen leaves,
waving along white-grayish boughs,
accompanied by shrieking crows,
cascading under purple clouds,
that suddenly evoke in me a shudder
for all transient breathing things:

During the program Shawn Vestal talks about and reads from his collection of stories titled 'Godforsaken Idaho.'

"Magic Fox"

Oct 7, 2013

They shook the green leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?

Stars fell upon their catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.

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