The Write Question

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

"Good Intentions"

Aug 19, 2013

Wesley and I aspired to build a lake
in his backyard, with lily pads and fish
and frogs. We dug a hole, planted
an old hog trough, filled it with good
water from the garden hose. Pedaled
for the river, buckets clanging from our handlebars,
fish nets lashed to our bike frames and fenders.

Under the bridge, minnows schooled in the shallows--
shiners, and chubs, and bullhead fingerlings.
Easy to scoop with our nets and fill bucket loads
quickly. Frogs dived under but sooner or later surfaced

During this program, TWQ producer Chérie Newman talks with David Abrams about his novel Fobbit.

Animals Upside Down

by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013 

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page find another clever way to introduce young children to fun books about nature in Animals Upside Down

"Little Boys and War"

Aug 12, 2013

I was six; brother was five.
Papa was gone to war.
Planes roared overhead
Racing for the city,
Our farmhouse shook;
Dishes crashed on the floor.

Mama screamed and
Called us to her.
In the roar, we wouldn’t hear,
And rushed outside
To watch the show.

Could we really see the bombs
As they flew toward the city?
“There! There!” we’d yell
As planes swooshed low
And dirt blossomed upward
And lives and property
Were destroyed for our enjoyment.

And mama screamed

During this program, Zan Bockes talks about writing her way through grief, and her adult perspective on an abusive childhood. She also reads from her collection of poetry, Caught In Passing.

Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon

The Blue Sky Press, 2013 

When I read the title of David Shannon's new book, I didn't realize it was going to be non-fiction. But yes, this very clever, delightfully illustrated children's book is about head lice. 

"Thought Under Construction"

Aug 5, 2013

There's no first stanza and maybe we should all go home,
since thinking isn't easy under any circumstances. And if

'home' is what's under construction? The work crew first
disconnects the stove, then turns up the radio. Omelets and broken

eggs, yes, but quiet and even the chips and cracks
were the script. Like the script of a one-note seasonal bird

when a chill moves over a lake. But not like the radio.
The first rule of construction? Destruction. Even the bees

During this program, Wyoming author Craig Johnson talks about and reads from 'A Serpent's Tooth,' the ninth book in his Walt Longmire Mystery series, which has been adapted for TV: "Longmire" on the Arts & Entertainment channel.

BOOK SYNOPSIS

In a Blink

by Kiki Thorpe

illustrated by Jana Christy

Random House 2013

In a Blink is the first book in Disney's new early reader chapter book series, The Never Girls.

"Adolescence"

Jul 29, 2013

For the lucky, it’s years spent
spinning the frantic wheel
of a carnival bumper car, lights swirling, the buzzing
and rumbling, sparking
and zapping, intent only on causing the surprising
crash, the ram and counterram,
spun wheel, sudden surge in reverse, the steady stare-down,
head-jerk, one car after
another until you find yourself targeting the bare legs
of the college kid, his back
turned to unstick a clot of stuck cars, bearing down,
full speed now, the humming
in your head now, until 

FICTION

The Highway, by C.J. Box

Breaking Point, by C.J. Box

Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford

Let Him Go, by Larry Watson

Burning

by Elana K. Arnold

Delacorte Press, 2013

I love the premise of Burning, aptly summarized in the tagline on the jacket cover:

Small-town boy. Gypsy girl. Desert Summer.

"The Velocity of Love"

Jul 22, 2013

So still we sit
in chairs that mold our breathing,
frightened birds
with feathers slimed in oil,
fish in nets, bodies
pressed against the figure
of their deaths.
We haven't spoken
for an hour. Your last
word digs holes in the air and
hangs.

Beneath this weight, Father,
tell me I'm lighter than light,
that my love for you outruns
the spinning lance
of hate.

If I could speak,
I'd tell you it doesn't matter
how hate is as strong
as the other, how quickly
exchanged for love,

During this program, Minerva Allen talks with TWQ producer Chérie Newman about her role as a guardian of tribal culture. She also reads from her collection of poetry, Nakoda Sky People, and from Stories from the Elders: Nakoda Horse Society.

"A Mid-July Invitation"

Jul 15, 2013

The energy crisis is over. Lights are back on the Strip.
Name the place:  Sahara, Caesar's Palace, Casino de Paris.
This way, please. Come, my people; drink on the house.
You, Great-grandpa, dice thrower from Sichuan, casting away
one hundred acres of our land overnight, be of good cheer,
this satchel of gold will last you a long while;
and you, Uncle Lu, widower and recluse of Fuling, accost
this Dixie belle, dare what you've never dared before;
this bottle will make you bold; and you, Da Shing, you

During this program, David Shields talks about literary collage, east-coast-west-coast perspectives, and his latest book, How Literature Saved My Life. He also reads from the book

About the book:

"Nuthatch Sitting on a Bear's Nose"

Jul 8, 2013

Really just a small cast iron representation
of the latter, a bottle opener mounted
to the southeast post of the shack's porch,
a Christmas gift from my niece,
and nothing to be stood upon, not even by a bird,
except for the nugget of ice at the end of the snout
that gives it a place. Some think art is lost
on the beasts of field and forest. Not I.
The chainsaw sculpture of an eagle
I fashioned years ago and fastened to a stump,
was sniffed at at length before the coyote

Benjamin Franklin was outvoted when he proposed the wild turkey as the official symbol of the United States. Instead, Bald Eagles won the vote.

During this program Chérie Newman talks with photographer, raptor expert, and writer Kate Davis about her latest book, Bald Eagle Nest: story of survival in photos. Their conversation includes stories about Davis's process of photographing as well as eagle anecdotes.

The Wrap-Up List

by Steven Arntson

Houghton Mifflin, 2103 

Steven Arntson had me from the get-go with The Wrap-Up List, which begins as follows,

Some people die from heart attacks, and some from falling off ladders. Some are killed in car accidents. Some drown. Some, like my grandfather Gonzalo, die in war. 

"Fourth of July"

Jul 1, 2013

If I have any romantic notions left,
please let me abandon them here
on the dashboard of your Subaru
beside this container of gas station
potato salad and bottle of sunscreen.
Otherwise, my heart is a sugar packet
waiting to be shaken open by some
other man’s hand. Let there be another town
after this one, a town with an improbable Western
name—Wisdom, Last Chance—where we can get
a room and a six-pack, where the fireworks
end early, say nine o’clock, before it’s really
gotten dark enough to see them because

During this program Chérie Newman talks with Billings, Montana, author Blythe Woolston about her new novel for young adult readers, Black Helicopters. First question:  "Why was terrorism an idea you wanted to explore with your writing?"

From the publisher:

"Trot"

Jun 24, 2013

A loose translation, not yet quite a gallop, more than a walk: to be
literal is to be a little jerky, rider and horse not unified into that
smooth flight of sweet aching below the saddle, all feet off the
ground at once. Well, another hour goes by. You'll need it. But it
gives you the idea—lap slapping against leather or, bareback, the
soft hair below the mane, yet it's not a place you can stay for long,
breath beginning to move in response to the horse's footsteps—
even more involuntary, a quick exhalation, a little feat of being

During this program, Chérie Newman talks with Josh Hanagarne about The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family, an inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

"The Voice of the Father"

Jun 17, 2013

Often, as mother bent her slender back
to the fields, or pulled the bloody slip
of a lamb into the world,
I wandered the house,
studying motes of dust brought to life
by sunlight. I was looking for you.

Pete Hurley is not the first person to have the idea that building his dream house in the country will bring him some kind of peace and happiness. But he may be the first to arrive in Montana with a World Series ring, a three-legged dog, and a thirst for self-destruction.

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