The Write Question

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

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.

Melissa Kwasny talks about her book Earth Recitals: Essays of Image & Vision, and about how reflecting on the images we see in the outer, nonhuman, world can stimulate human creative imagination and enhance our everyday lives.

About the book:

"Storm Pattern"

Sep 30, 2013

On my living room wall hangs a Navajo rug
handwoven by Virginia Yazzie. A Storm Pattern
with a black and white border, through which
the spirit line passes, a design like silhouettes

of mesas on the Colorado Plateau. Within the border
it's red, Ganado red, with black and white
figures, the sacred water bugs, the mountains
and the clouds, and the intersecting lightning bolts

James Lee Burke talks about his new 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.

From the publisher:

Squish: Game On!

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Random House 2013

Squish is an amoeba, who lives in a world populated by amoebas that is otherwise much like our own. Game On! is the fifth book in the Squish series of graphic novels by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (the creators of Babymouse).

"Sometimes Odowan"

Sep 23, 2013
Dragonfly Weather, poems by Lois Red Elk
Lost Horse Press

Sometimes when I sleep,
I hear buffalo coming,
Sometimes when I sleep,
Tatanka sings me songs.
Hey yo hey yaaaaah.

Sometimes when I dream,
I see dragonflies flying.
Sometimes when I dream,
Tusweca sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaah.

Sometimes when I wake,
I feel the earth moving.
Sometimes when I wake,
Maka Unci sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaaah.

During this program, Liz Stephens talks with TWQ producer Chérie Newman about her move from L.A. to rural Utah, and reads from her memoir, the days are gods, which chronicles what she and her husband experienced during their time in Wellsville.

About the book:

"Sound of Sun"

Sep 16, 2013

I can always ride a beautiful pony
and walk through the pines
as the bell on the horse's noseband rings
in the whisper of wind through trees.

Rich fragrances carry love home
like a bird carries hose hair to its nest.
Words of love build a house of love.
Let feeling go, way out in the heart. Fly in love.

I have asked that nothing clings to your heart
as you go riding through life
filled with happiness and joy. The beautiful feelings of your love
bled the sunrise of a purple-topped sky,
above an orange-pink spray

Donna Houtz McArthur talks with TWQ producer Chérie Newman about the sacred stories of the Shoshone-Bannock people and reads from her collection When the Smoke Goes Straight Up: Grandfather's Stories.

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel

Sep 9, 2013

All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.

The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.

If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man

then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.

During this program, Rick Bass talks with TWQ producer Chérie Newman about his novel All the Land to Hold Us. He also reads a passage from the book.

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

by Katie Alender

Point (Scholastic), 2013

I am not generally a big fan of young adult suspense or murder mysteries, but with a title like Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, I had to read this book.

During this program, veteran journalist Todd Wilkinson talks about and reads from his book Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet.

About Ted Turner and the book:

Mojo by Tim Tharp

Alfred A. Knopf, 2013

When Dylan's friend Randy eggs on some bullies that throw litter at them from the window of a passing car, Dylan decides to hide in a nearby dumpster... never expecting that he will find the dead body of one of his classmates in there with him!

"A Poem for the End of Summer"

Aug 26, 2013

All the cracks swerve up the
tree making it look old and
realistic. Its small leaves swaying
and shriveling in the hot sun. When
I look at the tip of the tree, the leaves
are tiny green dots, but up close I can see veins
running down each
and every leaf. The sun shines
through the leaves creating spots
and dots of sun on the grassy ground.
One branch multiplying into another
creating fractals and patterns of
all sorts. You can imagine
the root extending into the ground
making the tree stable and balanced.

During this program, Shoshone-Bannock author Mark Trahant talks about and reads from his book The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars: Henry M. Jackson, Forrest J. Gerard and the campaign for the self-determination of America’s Indian Tribes. He also explains the difference between American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the relationship of sovereign tribal governments with the U.S. government.

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