MTPR

The Write Question

Thursday 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The Write Question is a weekly literary program that features authors from the western United States, including James Lee Burke, Maile Meloy, Thomas McGuane, Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley, Jess Walter, Pam Houston, Barry Lopez, and hundreds of others.

New host & producer Sarah Aronson takes the reins beginning August 17, 2017. Executive producer, Michael Marsolek; studio engineer, Beth Anne Austein. The music in some programs was written and performed by John Floridis. The Write Question was previously hosted & produced by Chérie Newman.

The Write Question podcast

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As Evelynne Lowry, the daughter of a copper baron, comes of age in early 20th century Montana, the lives of horses dovetail with the lives of people and her own quest for womanhood becomes inextricably intertwined with the future of two men who face nearly insurmountable losses—a lonely steer wrestler named Zion from the Montana highline, and a Cheyenne team roper named William Black Kettle, the descendant of peace chiefs. An epic that runs from the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 to the ore and industry of the 1930s, American Copper is a novel not only about America’s hidden desire for regeneration through violence but the ultimate cost of forgiveness and the demands of atonement. It also explores the genocidal colonization of the Cheyenne, the rise of big copper, and the unrelenting ascent of dominant culture.

'The Goblin's Puzzle': Logan Reviews

Aug 2, 2016
Knopf Books for Young Readers

The Goblin’s Puzzle, by Andrew S. Chilton, is a very exciting book. I loved it as soon as I started reading it. It is fun, funny, and amazing. The main character is a boy with no name. This is because he was never given one. I can’t really explain it because: 1. It’s a spoiler, and 2. I don’t really know how it happened myself. I love how The Goblin’s Puzzle details suspense, mystery, and a desire to do the right thing. It was intriguing, and anyone who wants to read it should. I would recommend this book for second grade and up.

'Rondo Of The Familiar'

Aug 1, 2016
Laurence Barnes

by Robert Pack

Beside the waterfall,
by the lichen face of rock,
you pause in pine shade to remember blue
for drawing back, and green
for trust, replenishing yourself
among familiar leaves
with scattered sunlight.
And beyond those trees in time not ours,
you see our children search

Coming Of Age, Poisoned By The Vietnam War

Jul 27, 2016
The Given World, by Marian Palaia
Simon & Schuster

For a long time, Marian Palaia wrote short stories, instead of a novel. Not because she didn't want to write a whole book, but because she was terrified: "It was such a huge undertaking and I thought you had to know what you were doing... "

'Willow Wind'

Jul 25, 2016
Lost Horse Press

by Henry Real Bird

In the willow wind
the feeling will begin
Life, liberty, and death
Democracy in our breath
Born of the dew, and soil
in the heart of our soul

From the backwaters, still waters
Tears of war and joy victory covers,

Book Celebrates Native Culture With Images And Poetry

Jul 20, 2016

San Francisco Bay-area photographer Sue Reynolds and American Indian poet Victor Charlo talk about their book, Still Here: Not Living in Tipis.

In this first collaborative photo-poetry book between a white urban photographer and a reservation Indian, Sue Reynolds' images and Salish poet Victor Charlo's poems tell a story of resurrection in the face of long odds. The book includes forty-five color photos and five Salish poems. A percentage of sales goes to American Indian College Fund.

'Sweetness'

Jul 18, 2016
Joe Pell

by Mark Gibbons

Raven struts
Down the sidewalk

Tasting
The air

Shakes its
Tuxedo tail

Dips to clean
The cement

Caws to another
Combing the grass

Hop-Roaming
The plaza

They dance
The Caw-ca-doodle-doo

Tango like
Dada-dandy

Blue-black
Crow sisters

Waddle bumping
Big breasts

In a hornpipe
Dead heat

For some sticky
Big Hunk

Candy
Wrapper

Annick Smith Travels With Bruno

Jul 14, 2016
Trinity University Press

About the book:

In Crossing the Plains with Bruno, Annick Smith weaves together a memoir of travel and relationship, western history and family history, human love and animal love centering around a two week road trip across the Great Plains she and 95 pound chocolate lab, Bruno, took in the summer of 2003. It is a chain of linked meditations, often triggered by place, about how the past impinges on the present and how the present can exist seemingly sans past.

Traveling from her rural homestead in Montana to pick up her nearly 100-year-old mother from her senior residence on Chicago’s North Side and bring her to the family’s beach house on a dune overlooking Lake Michigan, Smith often gets lost in memory and rambling contemplation. Bruno’s constant companionship and ever present needs force her to return to the actual, reminding her that she, too, is an animal whose existence depends on being alert to the scents, sights, hungers, and emotions of the moment.

'Going Where It's Dark': Logan Reviews

Jul 12, 2016
Delacorte Books for Young Readers

This is Logan, here to tell you about Going where it’s Dark, a book for young adult readers written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Going where it’s Dark by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a very exciting book, and I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The main character is Buck Anderson, a thirteen-year-old boy who struggles with problems, including bullying and stuttering. He overcomes the bullying problem but instead of learning how to not stutter, he learns how to not fight it and be able to stutter more easily.

cover image: Kim Heacox / Alaska Northwest Books

About Jimmy Bluefeather:

Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (“with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in”), he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska.

Los Angeles Times and NPR film critic Kenneth Turan talks about and reads from his book Not To Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film.

Seal Press

Overwhelmed with her fast-paced, competitive lifestyle, Amy Ragsdale moved with her husband, writer Peter Stark, and their two teenage children from the U.S. to a small town in northeastern Brazil, where she hoped they would learn the value of a slower life.

'Desert Dark': Logan Reviews

Jun 22, 2016

Desert Dark by Sonja Stone is kind of a scary book. Nadia is a smart, adventurous and witty young girl who gets chosen for a special school. She is really good at math, coding, and programming. Her new school turns out to be a special spy training school and she eventually trains to become a spy for the CIA. At school she learns how to program and stuff, but I can’t say anymore because it would give too much away.  She’s pretty thrilled at first, but then with the dangers it brings, she’s forced to make decisions that she normally wouldn’t have to make.

In these twelve new stories of All I Want Is What You’ve Got, award-winning author Glen Chamberlain deftly writes about the fragility of small town life. Chamberlain ushers us amongst the half-broken lives, sharing the moments of regret, yet allowing the redemptive qualities of her characters to ultimately shine through. From a night nurse confessing her forgotten desires to an invalid to a Chinese girl trying to piece together a past from a single photograph; from an elderly rodeo cowboy falling in love with a beautiful stranger to a woman acutely aware of the intricacies that lead to her own death, All I Want Is What You’ve Got is that book of stories that reveals how the most profound moments in life are the ones taken for granted.

'Poem In Place Of A Fatwa'

Jun 20, 2016
Ken / Creative Commons

by Stan Sanvel Rubin

'Aftershock'

Jun 13, 2016
Joe Shlabotnik

by Richard O. Moore

Afterward, you look on the world as a happy place
flush from arrival into a new land of not being in pain.
Is there anything forgotten, now that the screaming's stopped?

Excerpt From GRIZZLY WEST, By Michael J. Dax

Jun 10, 2016
University of Nebraska Press

The meeting room was crowded and restless when Bitterroot Valley resident Dennis Palmer rose from his seat and declared, “We don’t want the doggone bears.”  This bold declaration, while representing the sentiments of many attending the public meeting in small, conservative Hamilton, Montana, was more measured than others.  Long-time resident Robert Norton confidently stated, “Women and children are going to be killed and maimed.”  During a similar meeting held in Hamilton two years later, an opponent of grizzly reintroduction read aloud the pathology report of a woman who had been mauled by a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park and displayed a picture of the mangled body for everyone to see. Another positively asserted that people “would rather reintroduce rattlesnakes and water moccasins than grizzly bears.”  Histrionics reached an apex when one local resident lifted his young daughter above his head in the middle of the meeting room.  Everyone’s eyes turned toward the young girl as her father announced to the room that she would be bear bait if the federal government reintroduced grizzlies.  In High Country News, a reporter summed up the frenetic atmosphere of a meeting in rural Salmon, Idaho, which was similar to the other six meetings held across Montana and Idaho in October, 1997, by wryly observing, “Big, stout fully grown men displayed the kind of hostility and fear bordering on panic that, when voiced by women, is usually dismissed as hysteria.”

Cows, Dogs, and 'The Montana Posse' Harass Hiker

May 18, 2016

In September 2012, Ken Ilgunas stuck out his thumb in Denver, Colorado, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles north to the Alberta tar sands. After being duly appalled, he commenced to walk nearly 2,000 miles, (mostly) following the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

It would become a 4.5 month journey across the Great Plains. To follow the pipe, he couldn't take roads. Instead, he walked across fields, grasslands, and private property. He had to trespass across America.

The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man in Seattle author Timothy Egan's book The Immortal Irishman:  The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero .

A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.

'Eat Stone and Go On'

May 2, 2016
Dave Pijuan-Nomura

by Joe Wilkins

Isn't it a shame, my grandmother said,
silver fork in her shivering fist,

how we have to go on eating?
We were sitting up to burnt chuck,

potatoes in their dirty jackets,
and hunks of Irish brown bread,

Stories From 15 Years Of Hitchhiking

Apr 27, 2016

Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals blends travel memoir with poetry to recount Marc Beaudin's days of hitchhiking and road trip adventures.

'Wonder Woman at Super Hero High': Logan Reviews

Apr 26, 2016
Random House for Young Readers

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High, by Lisa Yee takes place, unsurprisingly, at Super Hero High, which is a high school for young super heroes. It is basically a typical high school except for the fact that they are super heroes who are pretty much just meeting each other. At the end we meet Super Girl. She isn’t mentioned through the rest of the book, though. This book was fun and even though I’m not really big on super heroes, I was surprised I was interested in it. I liked it because it offered some back story on some of the evilest villains and best superheroes of all time. For example, it offers back story on Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn (like harlequin, get it?!), Wonder Woman, and there is also Beast Boy, which is interesting, I have to admit.

'Reincarnation' Lives On

Apr 25, 2016
Medora 2013

For those who love it, and for those who've never heard of this classic bit of cowboy humor:

REINCARNATION
by Wallace McCrea

"What does Reincarnation mean?"
A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, "It happens when
Yer life has reached its end.
They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck,
And clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box
Away from life's travails."

Sam Kelvig, a third-generation resident, will do just about anything to protect Grandview from the influx of new oil money and the strangers chasing it. Meanwhile, his restless wife, Patricia, wearies of the constraints of marriage to a man who is so tied to his community; Sam’s estranged son, Norby, has reluctantly returned home despite the family’s struggle with accepting his sexuality; Henrik, Sam’s volatile brother, is looking for any easy opportunity; and Blanche, the family matriarch, only wants a bit of peace before she dies.

"Hello, Hippo! Good bye, Bird!" is fun picture book written by Utah author Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Argentinian artist Poly Bernatene. The book is intended for children ages 3-7.

Bird wants to be friends with Hippo, but Hippo wants to be left alone. Bird tells Hippo jokes. Hippo wants Bird to go away. Even though Bird makes himself into an umbrella and keeps bugs off of Hippo by eating them, Hippo still wants Bird to leave him alone. But then, after Bird is gone and a thunderstorm comes, Hippo starts to think he has made a mistake.

YA Novel Features Overweight And Gay Teens

Apr 14, 2016
You and Me and Him, by Kriss Dinnison
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Maggie and Nash are outsiders: She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. They’re best friends, and they’ve helped each other survive their small-minded small town. But when Tom moves to Cedar Ridge at the start of the school year they have something unexpected in common—feelings for the same guy.

In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her graduate degree at Yale and followed her husband, an Indonesian prince and community activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. Together with ten friends and an ever-changing mix of strangers, they began to build their vision of utopia.

'For Myself'

Apr 4, 2016
Bill Walsh

by Lois Red Elk

This day, I adorn braided
sweet grass earrings handed
down from Mother's Santee
rings of aromatic medicine.

From the ancestor lands of
Father's Lakota family, I fill
pockets with handfuls of
cedar, my protective shield.

Into this circle of morning
spirit food, a prayer surfaces
from the Southern recess of
primal night-dwelling dreams.

I thank the Western powers,
where a mirror reflects
images of the ones I trust—
transparent photos of the

Love, Lament, And Letters In A Montana Cabin

Mar 30, 2016

David Allan Cates talks about and reads from his latest novel, Tom Connor's Gift, about which Bryan Di Salvatore writes, "Coursing between anecdote and musing, this is a novel only grownups can understand. It is smart and ecstatic and it will break your goddamn heart."

About the book:

A recently-widowed doctor, stunned by grief, retreats to a cabin on Montana's Rocky Mountain Front. Inside she has a puppy and a stack of letters from an old lover. Outside, there's a bear. As she revisits the letters from Tom Connor, we come to see, through his eyes, the dusty, broken alleys of Central America during the war years. The two narratives taken together explore themes of life-long love, about what we can see only when we are ready to see, and how hope can grow in the darkest of places. The third in what the author sees as his "homecoming trilogy" (after Hunger in American and Ben Armstrong's Strange Trip Home), Tom Connor's Gift shines a light on the transformative act of storytelling.

Two Best Friends Learn How To Be Apart

Mar 29, 2016
Jessixa Bagley / Roaring Brook Press

The main character in Before I Leave is a young hedgehog, Zelda, who must leave her best friend Aaron, because her family is moving away to another town.  Her parents, and her friend Aaron, assure Zelda that everything will be okay, but she feels scared and doesn’t know if she will be alright. The author/illustrator, Jessixa Bagley, uses very few words. Yet she creates a distinct mood of loss and then lifts that mood with the potential of a new beginning.
 
In the first pages of the book, we see the two friends, Zelda and Aaron playing. There are scenes showing them playing together in all four seasons, but the most  poignant are the scenes of their last day together.  Jessixa Bagley's illustrations set a wonderful tone for this book, which, it turns out, is about creating a life-long friendship.

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