The Write Question

The Write Question

About the book:

David James Duncan called Slotnick "a Wendell-Berry-style 'mad farmer'" and said, "The bracing bittersweetness lacing this free-verse report from the frontlines of a post-corporate agricultural renaissance is all the sweetness we need. FarmHome. is one of the most responsible books of poetry I've ever read."

The Happy Campers

Jul 6, 2015

"Si jeunessa sav ait..."

Leaning into the truck,
grinning into the camera,
they camp out in their adolescence
and my front yard
with the insolent charm
of young colts,
sleek with knowing,
wobbly with experience.

The moment I shoot them
I know this is it:
for grace of limb,
studied slouch
the matching dew rags,
rakish hat I wish I could wear.

After the click
they come back to life as if
the magic just goes on.
The truck jolts into gear and,
with careless wave of hands,
they're gone.

From Where Roads Will Never Reach: Wilderness and Its Visionaries in the Northern Rockies, by Frederick H. Swanson ($24.95 softcover, ©2015 University of Utah Press)


Apr 6, 2015

The body—god box—holds
the stuffing, blunt-winded plot,
until it doesn't

    tissue of tiny details
soaking up gestures of wedding
parties, neurons, steering wheel,
sugar bowl, the solarium

the nectar ebbs from the design

an autopsy, the openings filled with liquids,
already locked-out of the house, embarrassed

The river bank has been dented—
material ghost, the knees lock-kneed, knee-deep

What is left is fact and its antihistamine

Helena, Montana, author Brian D'Ambrosio talks about his book Warrior in the Ring: The life of Marvin Camel, Native American world champion boxer.

About the book:

In the Golden Age of boxing, Marvin Camel, from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, defied all obstacles of race, poverty, and geographical isolation to become the first Native American to win a world boxing title.

Why Americans Should Eat More Lentils

Mar 27, 2015

Early this March, students and faculty of the University of Montana turned out to listen to a farmer and a former country singer talk about a growing movement in America. Their message: support sustainable agriculture by eating more lentils.

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.

"Working Class Hero"

Mar 23, 2015

He wakes tired from sleeping rough
in the cab of a pickup truck
that remembers the Vietnam war.
He wakes up raw-bellied
from going to sleep hungry,
from driving a hundred miles the night before
in his failing Ford,
from needing this job too much.

His flesh cringes from the cold breath
of a mountain beginning
its withdrawal into
the season of solitude.
His flesh cringes from premonitions
of being touched by frozen wood and iron
before the first sweat of the day
comes to break the morning chill.

Lentil Underground

Mar 18, 2015

Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness launched a campaign to push small grain farmers to modernize or perish, or as Nixon Administration Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz put it, to “get big or get out. But twenty-seven year-old David Oien decided to take a stand. When he dropped out of grad school to return to his family’s 280 acre farm, Oien became the first in his conservative Montana county to seed his fields with a radically different crop: organic lentils.  


Mar 16, 2015

Slept by a flat mud
reservoir with sandhill cranes
cluttering sound
all night

way out here
in the dragging wind.

We go for breakfast
smelling like sage, cow and creek water,
small town diner
a new mural half painted across old brick.

Remember how the waitress accuses us
of stealing postcards of their local boys
hometown band?

I tell you, she will not relent
despite all our defending
in our bright polypropylene fleeces
and reflective shoes.