The Write Question

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

The Write Question podcast

The stories in Antonya Nelson's collection Funny Once are clear-eyed, hard-edged, beautifully formed. In the title story, "Funny Once," a couple held together by bad behavior fall into a lie with their more responsible friends. In "The Village," a woman visits her father at a nursing home, recalling his equanimity at her teenage misdeeds and gaining a new understanding of his own past indiscretions.

Dead Boy

by Laurel Gale

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2015

Crow is dead... sort of. He died in fourth grade, but his parents somehow wished him back to life, and he's continued to grow, even though his flesh is rotting and infested with maggots. His parents are divorced, and his mother has kept him in the house ever since he started rotting so as not to attract attention. He is a star home-schooled middle school student, but misses school and having friends his own age.

"Goddammit"

Nov 9, 2015
Mel McCudden / Lost Horse Press

We learn to swear from our fathers
when they're chopping wood
and miss the log,
axe skimming bark
off the woodblock,
dew off the grass,
goddammit raising its hot white streak
into November.

When my father's scanner
picks up police reports,
he's pulling on Key pants,
grabbing black jacket,
out to the garage to pull the tarp
off the tow truck.
I wake to hear the engine
having it out with the cold.

Called the Global Burden of Disease study, the monumental effort to understand how we live and how we die has at its center the brilliant, controversial economist and physician Christopher Murray, who has developed an entirely new way of discovering and comparing the worldwide toll of both the things that kill us and those that diminish the quality of our lives. His goal: to enable all of us to live longer and better lives.

Mother Goose's Pajama Party 

by Danna Smith 

Illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Doubleday Books for Young Readers 2015

When my children were infants, I used to strap them in their carrier and go walking up the mountain that I live on, chanting nursery rhymes in rhythm with my steps. Back at home, while nursing, I would read through collections of nursery rhymes to brush up on the ones I learned as a child and discover the ones I missed.

"Grandmother Rattler"

Nov 2, 2015
University of Arizona Press

who coils in my bones,
what were you thinking that summer night
when you found the warm road
on the edge of the canyon and stopped
just there exactly at the center
where the pickups and cars and evening walkers would see
your spiral upon spiral,
hear the singing voice of your tail,
see your black head rising?

When I stopped my car
and walked up to you,
arms spread and hands open,
why didn't you move?
Why didn't you slide down the stones

Everything, Everything

by Nicola Yoon

Delacorte Press 2015

Madeline is allergic to everything. Literally. She has a rare disease that is a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency which requires her to remain in her environmentally controlled home at all times. Anyone who comes in has to go through a one-hour decontamination process, which means that the only people she sees are her mother, her nurse, Carla, and an occasional tutor.

Sara Habein and Tyson Habein / Nouveau Nostalgia

Saif Alsaegh was a young boy living in Baghdad, Iraq, on September 11, 2001. At the time, he and the other members of his family didn't even know where Afghanistan was. But they had been "under the influence of war" for many years. During this program he talks about war and the effects his experiences have had on his art — writing poetry, plays, and films. He also reads from his collection of poetry titled Iraqi Headaches and talks about attending college in Great Falls, Montana.

"Flying Toad"

Oct 26, 2015
James Walsh

Plastic bracelet signifies
unescorted minor. Fidgety
pre-teen assigned
to the seat beside me. Shuttled
twixt Dad's new life,
Mom and her boyfriend back home.
Up in the air.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

by Penny Parker Klostermann

illustrated by Ben Mantle

Random House 2015

There can never be too many re-writings of “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..” at least if you are preschool or early elementary age. And the repetition of the familiar pattern with unexpected elements makes this first picture book by Penny Parker Klostermann fun for kids and adults alike.

Pages