Reflections West

Wednesday 3:00 PM

Reflections West is a weekly radio program that presents the thoughts of writers and scholars on the American West. These thinkers pair their own thoughts with a passage from literature and history.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Brenna Reitmann & Bill Kittredge

"My grandmother has no fingerprints. Her hands are lean, soft on the back, and wrinkled.

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Reflections West
6:02 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Mark Gibbons & Ed Lahey

Mark Gibbons
Credit Mark Gorseth

Mark Gibbons began his "relationship with booze" at "watering holes, western bars, those dens of iniquity, as integral a part of the western landscape as horses or teepees...Fueled by alcohol late into the night, bars surely held unpredictable wildness, danger and vice; but in small western towns, the bar was the social center of the community." Poet Ed Lahey recalls a working-class Butte bar in "The Ballad of the Board of Trade Bar:"

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Lynda Sexson & Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder. (CC-BY-2.0)
Credit Larry Miller

Lynda Sexson shares a Zen parable of the West, involving a baby and a pack of compassionate coyotes. Her tale mirrors Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra:"

"And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and
    watchful.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Stephanie Land & Judy Blunt

Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land grew up in Alaska and thought she was ready for anything the extreme climate could throw her way. She recalls the night in Gold Stream Valley when winter proved her wrong. Judy Blunt's memoir, "Breaking Clean," tells the story of "practical rather than humane" decisions that ranchers along Montana's Hi-Line had to make after the devastating 1964 blizzard.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Kaya Juda-Nelson & Tony Abeyta

"Yeis in Chanting Procession," by Tony Abeyta. (CC BY-NC-2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Granger Meador

Kaya Juda-Nelson left Missoula for college in Boston, excited to leave. But when events brought her back to Montana, instead of finding herself lonely or bored, she found that silence and spacious views provided "company as well as solace." In Tony Abeyta's essay, "Tsankawi's Trail," the Navajo painter describes an ancient Pueblo village in New Mexico "where spirits of past and present parallel infinitely:"

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Damon Falke

Credit courtesy of Damon Falke

Poet and novelist Damon Falke's West is a region that begs us to stop and look closely. Falke remembers a mysterious cemetery, perched on the rim of a plateau, where as a young man he would stop and watch and wait, not quite knowing why. In his poem, "Dove Creek" Falke reveals the deep observation practiced by his father, on trips into the desert:

"...There was my father,

Hunched over a cache of stones,

Sorting them out like so many bones

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Tessa Heinemann & Marjorie Manwaring

Marjorie Manwaring
Credit courtesy of Mayapple Press

Tessa Heinemann loves digging up history. On an archaeological dig in the old gold-mining town, Virginia City, MT, she discovered 150-year-old remnants of toys, jewelry, and medicine bottles. "I find it incredibly rewarding to transform the experience of casual tourists. They hold artifacts in their hands and begin to imagine the bustling streets of a real community."

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Tamara Linse & Judy Blunt

Judy Blunt
Credit courtesy of the University of Montana

Tamara Linse - "a writer, cogitator, recovering cowgirl" - grew up on a Wyoming ranch where adult women told dumb blonde jokes. Linse's book of short stories is called How To Be A Man. "They thought of themselves," she writes of the ranch women, "as profoundly set apart, a sort of third gender - not quite a man but definitely not a woman.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Robert Lee & Ashley

Credit courtesy of the Hydaburg School District

Every year, Robert Lee spends time as a poet-in-residence at the Haida School of Hydaburg, Alaska. His students teach Lee as much about surviving the elements as he teaches them about self-expression. 

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Doug Midgett & Gwendolyn Haste

In 1913, Doug Midgett's grandfather gazed at the tableland around Sumatra, Montana and saw a hopeful future of verdant crops. Looking at the same land fifty years later, Doug's father, who grew up in Sumatra, saw perennial drought, searing heat, and stifling dust storms. Poet Gwendolyn Haste lived in Eastern Montana in the early 1920s and watched the losing battles of its farmers:

"...Seven full years, says the Book, and seven lean -

And we come in at the end of the full ones, I guess.

There ain't no crops where they's no rain.

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