The Write Question

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

Tim O'Brien talks about his ever-popular novel 'The Things They Carried and describes the difference between literal truth and story truth. He also talks about writing as art and reads a passage from the book.

"The Milltown Union Bar"

Nov 10, 2014

for Harold Herndon

(Laundromat & Cafe)
You could love here, not the lovely goat
in plexiglass nor the elk shot
in the middle of a joke, but honest drunks,
crossed swords above the bar, three men hung
in the bad painting, others riding off
on the phony green horizon. The owner,
fresh from orphan wars, loves too
but bad as you. He keeps improving things
but can't cut the bodies down.

During this program, four Montana Indian authors talk about their stories published in Off the Path: An Anthology of 21st Century Montana American Indian Writers, Vol. I.

Sherman Alexie is not the only American Indian writer. Nor does the experience of one Indian represent the experiences of all Natives living in urban areas and reservations across the U.S.

That point of view, plus insights into American Indian culture and tribal differences, is part of the discussion during this program.

"Outside the St. Ignatius Mission"

Nov 3, 2014

We must be poets to hear from home
on nights like this. The moon
has a thousand echoes
in mud puddles all over town.

The old Mission looms behind life
like something so terribly lost
that life anchors to the loss.
Its aged walls wane to ghost at night.

Through stained glass dim candles radiate
like the soul of something ancient
through the continuance of itself.
Home is a deeper place,

submerged here by the landing of this world
we cannot have
God no longer thunders
from the sky, but whispers

For Today I Am A Boy

Oct 29, 2014

Kim Fu talks about and reads from her debut novel, For Today I Am A Boy.

About the book:

Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant— grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.

"Life"

Oct 27, 2014

To maintain balance of the soul
Is our ultimate goal
For death and life are foe
But yet together stroll
Between the stars and the grasses
As crescent moons come and go
With each winter of snow
May you walk in beauty.

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During this program, Paul Zarzyski talks about and reads from his latest collections of poetry and prose, Steering With My Knees and 51: 30 Poems, 20 Lyrics, 1 Self-Interview, both published by Bangtail Press.

Including:

Poem For October 20

Oct 20, 2014

Today's poem is untitled. It was published in chasers of the light: poems from the typewriter series, by Tyler Knot Gregson.

What good
is a half-lit
life?
You
can burn me
to ashes
as long as I know
we lived a life
alight.

Wyoming author Alexandra Fuller talks about and reads from her third memoir, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.

About the book:

"Best"

Oct 13, 2014

He told us a story of lightning splitting the lone tree
on a hill's top, killing three horses beneath it at once.

They lay that way through winter; come May, their
licked-clean bones gleamed from a bed to green tendrils

and clover. We knew it had meaning, the way he said;
nature takes care to spirit back what's hers; they'd

been his best. We watched him talk, then he stopped.
This comes to me today just as a curtain of white

sweeps the vineyard, buds thrashed by torrents combing
the rows, the clatter on glass waking my napping boy

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