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 October 1, 2014

Bud Cheff, Jr. & Olivia Stiffler

Bud Cheff Sr. is depicted on a hunting trip with his friend and mentor Eneas Conko. Painting by Rich Sanders.

Bud Cheff, Jr.'s family has been friends with the Conko family of Montana's Mission Valley for over a hundred years. Bud recalls a reunion between his grandmother and Eneas Conko in the front pew of the St. Ignatius Mission church.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Erin Saldin & Marilynne Robinson

A pregnant Erin Saldin narrated the details of her winter walks to her unborn child, imagining him as a character in a novel. "That imagined child is nothing like my flesh-and-blood daughter, who was born late, blonde, and wide-eyed." Saldin pairs her reflection with an excerpt from Marilynne Robinson's novel, Housekeeping.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Robert Stubblefield & James Welch

James Welch, 1971
Credit LaVerne Harrell Clark, The University of Arizona Poetry Center

When writing about literature, teacher and author Robert Stubblefield sticks to the present tense, since "great literature never slides off into the past, but remains with us in an eternal present." Stubblefield's friend and colleague, author James Welch, creates a world in his historical novel Fools Crow "as clear and present as the gray vapor of our breath against the darkness."

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Tammy Elser & Luci Tapahonso

During summer trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Tammy Elser, the daughter of an outfitter, learned to love camp coffee. Poet Luci Tapahonso's Navajo uncle drinks coffee from the red can, too:

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Philip Burgess & Penny Postcards

Credit Tom Mulvaney collection

Early in the twentieth century, long before Twitter, people sent snippets of news back and forth on penny postcards, sometimes transferring their own photos onto the front. In his book, Penny Postcards and Prairie Flowers, Philip Burgess has collected the postcards exchanged between his homesteading grandmother and great-aunt in Montana and their Norwegian immigrant family in Minnesota.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Toni Truesdale & Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo, 2012. (CC-BY-2.0)
Credit Joy Harjo

From her home in Pennsylvania, Toni Truesdale has never heard the call of the West. But her sister has. In spite of geographic separation, they re-create home around the kitchen table, wherever they are. Poet Joy Harjo's poem, "Perhaps the World Ends Here," sings of the kitchen table:

"Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed August 20, 2014

James Davenport & John Steinbeck

James Davenport grew up in Deer Lodge, MT, at a slower pace than his urban peers and without the surfeit of pop culture that informs their language. In his 1962 bestseller, Travels with Charlie, John Steinbeck observes that Montanans seem unaffected by television and the homogeneity overtaking other rural places:

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Caroline Keys & Bon I. Whealdon

Credit Caroline Keys

Among the jobs Caroline Keys has held since moving to Montana: driving a tour boat on Flathead Lake.  Recently, she arranged a gig for her band on the boat she used to captain. She's reminded of a Salish story about ingenuity and re-arranged roles, collected by Bon I.

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Paul Theobald & Wendell Berry

Paul Theobald

Paul Theobald admits he's tired of the pressure to remain rootless in order to "go far" in his teaching career. Wendell Berry names this cost of this pressure:

"That teaching is a long-term service, that a teacher's best work may be published in the children or grandchildren of his students, cannot be considered, for the modern educator, like his "practical" brethren in business and industry, will honor nothing that he cannot see."

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Reflections West
5:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Dale Gillespie & Wallace Stegner

First edition cover

Dale Gillespie grew up in Western Montana with a bias for mountains and water, but finally felt the beauty of the plains of Eastern Montana creep up on him as he watched a sunset Charlie Russell might have painted. In Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wallace Stegner reveals his own secret to "home:" 

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