The Write Question

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

The Write Question podcast

Snakes, Alligators, and Broken Hearts: Journeys of a Biologist's Son

by Sneed B. Collard III

Bucking Horse Books, 2015

I don't think that children (or adults, for that matter) wonder as much about the lives of nonfiction writers as they do about writers of fiction. Reading Snakes, Alligators, and Broken Hearts made me wonder why. While Sneed B. Collard III has written eleven books of children's fiction (one under a pseudonym), he has been most prolific in writing children's nonfiction, mostly about the natural world, and historical biographies.

'Every Place I've Ever Lived Is Gone'

Jan 4, 2016
Cazz

pecan groves outside of Lafayette,
the pine woods north of Spokane,

the field by my house where the snow piled deep,
where a snow owl passed so silently and low

it changed my idea of ghosts—
now they're stores,

and neighborhoods named after trees,
and spillover parking for a church,

and maybe the choir sings hymns so beautifully
it's fine; I'll call it the future, agree that it's bright.

But west of Washtucna, Washington,
the highway stretches through the dark...

Board Book Series Review: 'My First Comics'

Dec 29, 2015

My First Comics: I'm Grumpy & I'm Sunny!

By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Random House Books for Young Readers board books, January 2016

As the quality of graphic novels has improved to the point that the format (formerly known as “comics”) has now become a recognized literary genre, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the concept of a comic book series for pre-readers.

"Dear John Letter - Christmas 2015"

Dec 28, 2015
Jonathan Cohen

Dear John:
I just played your Christmas song,
first your peace version
recorded with Yoko in Montreal,
then the unofficial one with snowy landscapes,
fire lit hearths,
joyful faces,
and one soldier, grey faced, alone,
walking in a war zone...

So this is Christmas 2015:
same carousel,
old and new wars right here at home,
recharged guns,
and children dying in the deranged streets.

And nights silent in snowdrifts
under a single star,
bullets, and promises broken in Bethlehem.

During this program, Molly Caro May talks about her nomadic childhood and her search for a place to "be from." She also reads from her new memoir, The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place.

Molly Caro May grew up as part of a nomadic family, one proud of their international sensibilities, a tribe that never settled in one place for very long. Growing up moving from foreign country to foreign country, just like her father and grandfather, she became attached to her identity as a global woman from nowhere. But, on the verge of turning thirty years old, everything changed.

Molly and her fiancé Chris suddenly move to 107 acres in Montana, land her family owns but rarely visits, with the idea of staying for only a year. Surrounded by tall grass, deep woods, and the presence of predators, the young couple starts the challenging and often messy process of building a traditional Mongolian yurt from scratch. They finally finish just on the cusp of winter, in a below-zero degree snowstorm. For Molly it is her first real home, yet a nomadic one, this one concession meant to be dissembled and moved at will.

Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope

Calliope isn't your average horse. In fact, she isn't a horse at all. When she and Cowboy Boyd ride onto the Double R Ranch, Slim, Hardtack, and Rancher Rose comment on how short, dusty and lumpy she is. But Boyd believes that Calliope can get the job done, even if she is a rhinoceros.

"Before I Go"

Dec 21, 2015
tymesynk

I want to say the guacamole was pleasant,
metallic and viscous, and the ornamentation,
while excessive, contributed a certain vagueness
to the otherwise overly-managed event. For instance,
the various proposals concerning the movement
of shoulders and hips; the recent prohibition
of leaning-beside-the-punch-bowl; the manic outbursts
of praise near the X-mas tree. For that matter,
the damaging claims made by carolers, the rigid order
for the revelation of gifts, the marked lack of scholarship

Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye

by Wendelin Van Draanen

Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

It was sort of bad timing to discover the Sammy Keyes mystery series in its final installment, but not too late to capture the flavor of this hard-boiled crime series for teens. A foreword to this novel is written in the voice of the author and explains that Sammy, the series heroine, is unable to narrate because she is in a coma after being thrown off a stairwell by an assailant.

"I Remember Being Beautiful"

Dec 14, 2015

My lovely, lineless face
was my birth right.
I painted a large red heart
on each cheekbone,
blackened my lashes

with soot and spit,
and circled my head with pale carnations.

I rubbed oil of sandalwood
between my breasts and shoulder blades
and had a blue unicorn tattooed
inside my left thigh.
I learned to speak Portuguese
at night school,
and I developed a passion for
chocolate and poetry.

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