February 22, 2019 Marcus Jackson
Cave Canem Fellow Marcus Jackson reads from his debut poetry collection, Neighborhood Register and his 2018 book, Pardon My Heart. Jackson, an Ohio native who teaches in the MFA program at The Ohio State University, discusses his writing that touches on themes of love, racial identity, and family, particularly Pardon My Heart, which began after he was newly married. An earlier show featuring his work with The Symphony Poets is also available in our audio archives.
March 1, 2019 Ellen Bass
In part two of our conversation with poet Ellen Bass, she discusses how, after being married and having two children, she came to discover another part of her sexuality and committed to a more than three-decade relationship with her now wife. She also reminisces on the mentorship she received from the late poet Anne Sexton and the co-founder of The Feminist Press, Florence Howe, and talks about the premier anthology that she and Howe worked on called No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth Century American Women Poets. Bass reads more from her two most recent books, Like a Beggar and The Human Line, and reveals how literature changed her life. Part one of this conversation along with an anthology program featuring Ellen Bass are also available in our audio archives.
February 15, 2019 Glenn North
Glenn North, the inaugural Poet Laureate of the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District, shares passages from his 2015 book City of Song (due to be re-released in 2019 by Spartan Press). Excerpted from the Kansas City Public Library's 2017 program, To Make a Poet Black and Bid Him Sing, the Cave Canem fellow, community organizer, and winner of the Charlotte Street Foundation's Generative Performing Artist Award discusses his involvement in youth poetry workshops and shares his experience as a black poet. North also talks about his collaboration with jazz musician Bobby Watson to create the musical spoken word CD, Check Cashing Day.
February 8, 2019 Gwendolyn Brooks: Past American Voice
We turn to our extensive archive to present this look back at the legacy of the legendary poet Gwendolyn Brooks. The first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 poetry collection, Annie Allen, Brooks went on to influence generations of poets. In this compilation made from a 1984 program and parts 1 and 2 of a 1988 interview, Brooks reads from her works, including her famous "We Real Cool" poem, and talks about her childhood, her decision to leave Harper & Row for a black publishing company, and the recognition of her own mortality.
February 1, 2019 Patricia Smith
In the second half of this interview, Patricia Smith, a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts fellow and the 2018 winner of the coveted Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, reads from her book Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, the 2014 winner of the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Award. Smith also shares a poem from her earlier National Poetry Series Award-winning collection, Teahouse of the Almighty. She discusses the relationship she had with her parents before and after her father’s murder and reveals how that has impacted her life and writing.
January 25, 2019 Marcus Wicker
Michigan native Marcus Wicker talks about how his poetry has progressed since his early days with poetry slams and reads from the 2011 National Poetry Series winning collection, Maybe the Saddest Thing, a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Poetry. He reveals why music and pop culture subject matter, ranging from Flavor Flav to Bruce Lee, appear so much in this first book. He also shares the genesis for his second book, Silencer--another NAACP poetry finalist and winner of the 2018 Arnold Adoff Poetry Award-- which mixes his love of music with stories of racism and violence. A two-time Cave Canem fellow, the poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review now teaches at the University of Memphis, and talks about what he learns from reading other poets. This program also contains musical segments by his brother, the hip hop producer, Flaw da God.
January 18, 2019 Patricia Smith
Patricia Smith is the author of seven poetry books and a four-time National Poetry Slam Champion, the most successful poet in the competition's history. In part one of this conversation, she reads from her recent book, Incendiary Art, 2018 winner of an NAACP Image Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and discusses the why she chose to write so much about the late Emmett Till, who was killed the year of her birth.
January 11, 2019 Hadara Bar-Nadav & Kathryn Nuernberger
In this interview at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library, poets Hadara Bar-Nadav and Kathryn Nuernberger, who were both chosen as 2017 NEA Literary Fellows, discuss their recent collections along with their origins and influences, and talk about how dreaming affects their poetry. Bar-Nadav, the co-editor of the textbook, Writing Poems, who teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, reads poems from Fountain and Furnace and The New Nudity, while Nuernberger, former editor of Pleiades Press at the University of Central Missouri, reads from her James Laughlin Award-winning poetry collection, The End of Pink. Now at the University of Minnesota, Nuernberger will return to Kansas City for a 2019 Midwest Poets Series reading and will talk with us about her recent essay collection, Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past. An earlier 2013 interview with Hadara Bar-Nadav is also available in our Audio Archives.
January 4, 2019 Stephen Corey
A three-time Georgia Author of the Year for poetry, Stephen Corey is the editor of the National Magazine Award-winning, The Georgia Review. He talks about his literary life and reads from his 2017 book, Startled at the Big Sound: Essays Personal, Literary, and Cultural. The husband of a hospice nurse and the father of four girls, he reveals how the title was inspired by one of his two adopted daughters. Corey also discusses his approach to editing and the writing life as he reads poetry from his earlier book, There is No Finished World.
December 28, 2018 Charles Harper Webb
Guggenheim Fellow, licensed psychotherapist, and author of over a dozen poetry books, Charles Harper Webb reads from his 2016 essay collection, A Million MFAs Are Not Enough. The English professor at California State University advocates for more humor and accessibility within the poetry world. He also shares poems from his more recent collection, Brain Camp, and his book of new and selected poems, Shadow Ball, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which released his book Sidebend World in fall 2018. A former professional guitar player, he also discusses his love of music, and reveals how baseball and the natural world has helped inspire some of his writing.
December 21, 2018 George Saunders
George Saunders, the renowned short story writer, talks about his debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, winner of Britain's Man Booker Prize for best novel written in English in 2017. He discusses his approach to this story, which began two decades before when he read about Abraham Lincoln's grief over the loss of his son, Willie, and how he made visits to the crypt to hold his body. Saunders decided to explore the tumultuous Civil War period through a chorus of ghosts, and talks about the joy he found in using his editing and curating skills to join history with fiction. He also reads from the novel.
December 14, 2018 Naomi Shihab Nye
In part one of this conversation, Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, whose numerous books of poetry, essays and stories have delighted children and adults alike, reads from her book, Tender Spot, including her poem "Famous" that was turned into a picture book in 2015. She also talks about her award-winning novel, The Turtle of Oman, that deals with a child's attachment to place, and reads poetry from Honeybee and her 2018 collection, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners. Part two of this interview along with programs with Naomi Shihab Nye from 2003 and 2006 are also available in our audio archives.
Kansas City Literary Events