MTPR

Arts & Culture

Author interviews, food, natural history, poetry, and more from "The Write Question", "The Food Guys", "Field Notes", "Home Ground Radio", "Front Row Center", and "Reflections West".

Total solar eclipse.
Romeo Durscher-NASA

Today's the day a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

Book Cover

Master storyteller Kevin Canty returns with "The Underworld," a lyrical, haunting novel about a hardscrabble small town in Idaho and the disaster that comes to define it. Inspired by a disastrous mine fire in the early 1970s, "The Underworld" gracefully imagines a community shattered, and ultimately altered and rebuilt, by tragedy.

Mermaids, Wildlife Politics, Murder, And Lost Love

Aug 10, 2017
Penguin Random House

In the wake of Fourth of July fireworks in Montana’s Madison Valley, Hyalite County sheriff Martha Ettinger and Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather investigate a horrific scene at the Palisades cliffs, where a herd of bison have fallen to their deaths. Victims of blind panic caused by the pyrotechnics, or a ritualistic hunting practice dating back thousands of years? The person who would know is beyond asking, an Indian man found dead among the bison, his leg pierced by an arrow.
 

Fellow Montanans, it’s time for your second wake-up call concerning the upcoming solar eclipse — the celestial event of the summer, if not a lifetime. Pencil “eclipse day” into your day planners for August 21, and set aside the time window of roughly 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to experience the whole event. It will feature, on average, an astonishing 90 percent totality for many of us in the Treasure State.

There are lots of community resources out there to help you enjoy the eclipse, so let’s run down a few highlights:

Author's Deep Dive Into The Baker Massacre

Aug 2, 2017
University of Oklahoma Press

On the morning of January 23, 1870, troops of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry attacked a Piegan Indian village on the Marias River in Montana Territory, killing many more than the army’s count of 173, most of them women, children, and old men. The village was afflicted with smallpox. Worse, it was the wrong encampment. Intended as a retaliation against Mountain Chief’s renegade band, the massacre sparked public outrage when news sources revealed that the battalion had attacked Heavy Runner’s innocent village—and that guides had told its inebriated commander, Major Eugene Baker, he was on the wrong trail, but he struck anyway. Remembered as one of the most heinous incidents of the Indian Wars, the Baker Massacre has often been overshadowed by the better-known Battle of the Little Bighorn and has never received full treatment until now.

Recipe: Cherry Clafouti

Jul 30, 2017
Flicker user, Jessica Spengler. (CC-BY-2.0)

It's Flathead cherry season in Montana, and the Food Guys are on a cherry clafouti kick.  "If you have access to Flathead cherries, now is one of those moments in your year that will only last a few weeks," urges Food Guy, Jon Jackson. Clafouti, the simple French dessert, features a custard base topped with fresh cherries and it's perfect for late July and early August.

Esteemed by Comedy Central as one of the best stand-up comics of all time, Paula Poundstone is perhaps best known in the radio world for her regular appearances on the NPR comedy quiz show, Wait… Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Fresh on the heels of the release of her new memoir, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, Poundstone will be in Bozeman Fri. Aug. 11 to perform standup at the Ellen Theatre.

When A Corpse Erodes Out Of A Hillside...

Jul 26, 2017

“Allen Jones’s A Bloom of Bones is simply riveting. Always lyrical, often wise, filled with vitality, and the promise that love and loyalty can surmount the darkness in our lives. I couldn’t put it down.” — Mark Spragg, author, Where Rivers Change Direction and An Unfinished Life

“What a terrific novel Allen Jones has given us! Two attractive but emotionally isolated people, a rancher on the starved-to-death plains north of Jordan Montana who has written his way into nationally interested poetry, and a young woman who represents his New York publisher. A progressing love story and an unsolved murder on his ranch—A Bloom of Bones is articulate, occasionally heartbreaking, and all the way fascinating.” — William Kittredge, author of A Hole in the Sky and The Willow Field

Author Casts 'Spells for Victory and Courage'

Jul 19, 2017
Brighthorse Books

The characters in Spells for Victory and Courage, winner of the Brighthorse Prize for Short Fiction, search for love and belonging in all the broken places. A teenage girl takes care of her ex-jockey father. A retired professor befriends the local shepherd. A carnival clown picks a fight with the wrong customer.

North American river otters.
Dmitry Azovtsev (CC-BY-SA-3)

At the end of last summer, as I sat in an eddy on the Clark Fork River, something furry and black caught my eye, moving as smoothly as the water itself. I was looking at a North American river otter. Remembering studying sea otters in elementary school, I wondered if I had just seen something rare for this region, and decided to do a little research.

Tom Bensen of Arts Missoula joins MTPR's Michael Marsolek with a report on the economic impact of non-profit arts organizations in Missoula County — a whopping $54 million according to a new report from Americans for the Arts.

"These are numbers that validate what people already know," Bensen says, "that the arts and culture organizations and people contribute a lot to our economy."

Geology student studying the limestone near Farlin, MT.
UM Western

Last summer I was helping teach a geology field camp near Dillon. On our way back to the Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center each day, after long hours in the August sun spent identifying and mapping incredible exposures of rock, we would drive past a few crumbling cabins beneath an unweathered cliff face footed by large piles of scree.

This was once the town of Farlin – a long-abandoned copper mining camp at the base of the Pioneer Mountains. Shortly after the dawn of the 20th century, it was home to hundreds of men, women, and children. Inextricable from the experience of Montana, ghost towns like this one now dot the landscape they once extracted.

The Battle To Control Nature In National Parks

Jul 12, 2017
Penguin Random House

The fascinating story of a trial that opened a window onto the century-long battle to control nature in the national parks.

When twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been. 

Combining Bone Fishing And Poetry Into Memoir

Jul 5, 2017
Milkweed Editions

Chris Dombrowski was playing a numbers game: two passions — poetry and fly-fishing; one child, with another on the way; and an income hovering perilously close to zero. Enter, at this particularly challenging moment, a miraculous email: Can’t go, it’s all paid for, just book a flight to Miami. Thus began a journey that would lead to the Bahamas and to David Pinder, a legendary bonefishing guide.

During this program, Christine Byl talks about her memoir, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which describes her experiences working on trail crews in national parks in Montana and Alaska.

Map: Worldwide Lineup Of Musicians And Performers Converge On Butte, Montana
Cal Reynolds/MTPR

An amazing lineup of musical artists and performers are coming to Butte, Montana July 7-9. More than 20 groups representing a broad diversity of musical and cultural traditions will perform on the festival's six stages in Uptown Butte.

Click on any marker on the map below to learn more about the performers coming to the 2017 Montana Folk Festival. And don't forget you can tune in to Montana Public Radio for live music and backstage interviews from the festival Friday and Saturday night starting at 7:00 p.m.

While watching an evening newscast about Montana wildfires, I saw some TV footage of deer and elk fleeing burning areas and listened to speculation by the newscasters of how many animals might be killed during the fires. I was reminded of watching the movie Bambi as a child, and fearing for Bambi’s life as he fled that fictional wildfire many decades ago.

So how devastating are wildfires to deer and elk? Can most of them outrun or outflank a rapidly spreading fire? And what about the survivors when they return to a burned forest? Isn’t their habitat destroyed?

Steven Lewis Simpson is a white, European filmmaker telling a story about Native Americans through his latest film screening now across Montana.

“Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is adapted from the 1994 best-selling novel by author Kent Nerburn. It's about a white writer who gets sucked into life on reservations in the Dakotas by the late Lakota Chief, Dave Bald Eagle, whose people were killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Brie Ripley spoke with the filmmaker about the complexities of telling a story that isn’t yours.  

'Traildog' Tales From Glacier National Park

Jun 29, 2017

During this program, Christine Byl talks about her memoir, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, which describes her experiences working on trail crews in national parks in Montana and Alaska.

The 2017 Montana Folk Festival is July 7-9 in Butte, Montana. Tune in to Montana Public Radio to hear music live from the festival Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy photo

There's a lot going on in Butte this summer, from the Big Bang fireworks extravaganza to the Montana Folk Festival, and even a Folk Feast, which is part fundraiser and part art event.  George Everett, executive director of Main Street Uptown Butte joins MTPR's Michael Marsolek to give you a preview of the summer fun coming up in Butte.

the Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp for 2017's upcoming historic solar eclipse.
U.S. Postal Service

There’s an event coming your way that’s so significant, the Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp for it: On Monday, August 21, 2017, a historic solar eclipse will occur.

The path of 100 percent totality, spanning parts of 14 states, will extend in an arc across the United States from south of Portland, Oregon, in the west to mid-South Carolina in the east.

Montana Historical Society Press

Step out of a world governed by clocks and calendars and into the world of the Kootenai and Blackfeet peoples, whose traditional territories included the area that is now Glacier National Park.

Antonya Nelson's 'Funny Once' Is Funny Lots

Jun 21, 2017

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.

The Travelin' McCourys at the 2014 Montana Folk Festival
Michael Marsolek

"I just think that Americans, now more than ever, need to be reminded of and celebrate, and just feel good about what great culture we have produced and continue to produce through these community based traditions," says Nick Spitzer, host of American Routes.

Spitzer will be back in the state for the Montana Folk Festival in Butte, July 7-9 where he'll join MTPR's Michael Marsolek and the MTPR crew broadcasting live from the festival. In this interview, Spitzer talks about how the Montana Folk Festival fits in to the larger mosaic of folk music in America.

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

Krummholz: The Bonsai Opportunists Of Timberline

Jun 19, 2017
Flickr user, famartin. (CC-BY-3.0)

Winds lash the peaks. Snow pelts the ridges almost every month of the year. The warmest average monthly temperature is a mere 50 degrees F. The conifer forests of the high Northern Rockies appear hunched, twisted and bent. In fact, there’s a word for the dwarf form of subalpine tree species which in other environs would grow tall and straight: “krummholz,” which translated from German means “crooked wood.”

Game Designer Creates 'Rip-Roaring' YA Adventure Novels

Jun 14, 2017
Harper Collins

Ruby is a thief-in-training and a keeper of secrets—ones she doesn't even know herself. A Riddle in Ruby is the first book in a witty and fast-paced fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Jonathan Stroud, Septimus Heap, and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.

Ruby Teach, daughter of a smuggler and pirate, has been learning how to swindle and steal and pick the most complex locks for as long as she can remember. But a collision with aristocratic young lord Athen sends her spinning into chaos. Little did she know that her whole life has been spent in hiding from nefarious secret societies and the Royal Navy . . . who are both now on her trail.

Fishing With The King: The Belted Kingfisher

Jun 13, 2017
A female belted Kingfisher with her catch.
Teddy Llovet (CC-BY-2)

While recently visiting the Rock Creek area to simply go fishing I became distracted as I cast my red skwala into the clear, frigid stream. I was not distracted by the surrounding beauty of grasslands and different flora, or my ongoing love/hate relationship with fly-fishing, but rather the immense variety of sound echoing off the rock outcroppings surrounding the area.

'Adolescence'

Jun 2, 2017

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 

A moose near Missoula, MT. Moose in Montana are some of the smallest moose in North America.
Josh Burnham

On a sunny June day, I was standing among a group of budding naturalists, sketching the bark of a cottonwood tree. Suddenly, I heard a series of quiet gasps and more than a few titters ripple through our small crowd. Someone had spotted a cow moose and her calf crossing the path just a few feet away from us. We all turned to watch them on their route to the Bitterroot River. They were an elegant pair. The sunlight reflected off their caramel-colored backs, while the mother kept close to her calf and kept a wary eye on us until she was sure we weren’t going to follow.

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