July 21, 2017 Judson Mitcham
In the second half of a conversation with Georgia State Poet Laureate (2012-present) Judson Mitcham talks in front of a WUGA audience in Athens, GA, about his two novels, The Sweet Everlasting and Sabbath Creek, both winners the Townsend Prize for fiction. Mitcham's voice is an important part of his work and he shares how his experience as a white man working at a predominantly black college has influenced his depiction of race in both novels set in his home state in different eras. Named Georgia Author of the Year as both a poet and a novelist, Mitcham was also inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2013. Judson Mitcham discusses his poetry in the first part of this program found in our audio archives.
July 28, 2017 Rachel Hall
Published in various anthologies and literary magazines, including New Letters, fiction writer Rachel Hall discusses her first collection of interconnected short stories Heirlooms, winner of the 2015 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction from BkMk Press. Based on her own family’s history and wartime papers and photos, this book follows a Jewish family through the Holocaust, tracing their lives from Israel, to France, and eventually the United States. While at the National Archives at Kansas City, Hall reads from this collection and reveals why she chose to write this as fiction rather than memoir.
July 14, 2017 Antonya Nelson
The author of eleven books of short stories and novels, Antonya Nelson appears as UMKC's 2015 Cockefair Chair Writer-in-Residence at the Kansas City Public Library. She talks about her most recent books: the novel Bound, which covers growing up in Wichita, Kansas during the reign of the BTK killer, as well as her 2014 collection of short stories, Funny Once. As a writer published in magazines such as The New Yorker, she describes how she uses her life and the places she knows in flyover country to create fiction that appeals to readers outside the region. She also describes her creative life with her husband, fellow fiction writer, Robert Boswell.
July 7, 2017 Rodney Jones
Visiting Kansas City for the Midwest Poets Series, National Book Critics Circle Award winner Rodney Jones discusses what he learned about the use of language from the late writers and friends, Kent Haruf and C.D. Wright. He also reads from and talks about the shaping of his selected works, Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems 1985-2005, and his newer poetry book Imaginary Logic.
June 30, 2017 Larry Watson
While at the Woodneath Library Center, novelist Larry Watson reads from his tenth book, As Good As Gone. Though he grew up in North Dakota and is now teaching at Marquette University in Wisconsin, Watson has based much of his fiction in Montana and admits there are many similarities between his home state and the settings for his books. He reveals how cowboy movies from the early 1960s as well as his own family history have helped to shape his writing aesthetic. Watson also discusses his writing life and his approach to theme, characters, and inspiration.
June 23, 2017 Michelle Boisseau
In this interview at the Kansas City Public Library, poet, editor, and Guggenheim Fellow Michelle Boisseau discusses her fifth book, Among the Gorgons. She reveals how her own aging shed new light on some of the Greek mythology that inspired the Tampa Review Poetry Prize-winning collection. Also a co-author of the textbook Writing Poems, now in its eighth edition, Boisseau talks about her work as a literary citizen, and some of the poetry editing she's done with BkMk Press to help other writers hone their books.
June 16, 2017 Edward Hirsch
In the second part of this conversation, poet and "MacArthur genius" Edward Hirsch discusses how the sudden death of his son inspired his 2014 book Gabriel: A Poem, which was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award and won the National Jewish Book Award. Though he had written elegiac poetry in the past, this book length poem proved especially difficult to create. Describing it as "a father's book," he reveals the challenges of capturing the spirit of his son while also telling his own story of grief. Hirsch also talks about how he referenced other poets in history who wrote about losing children and the ways in which this helped him process his grief. The first part of this conversation in available in our audio archives.
June 9, 2017 Whitney Terrell
Novelist Whitney Terrell talks about his time being embedded with the military in Iraq, writing nonfiction for Slate Magazine and The Washington Post, and how the stories he heard became the basis for his third novel The Good Lieutenant. Interviewed by Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper III in front of a Rainy Day Books audience at Unity Temple on the Country Club Plaza, Terrell is joined on stage by Major Stacy Moore, one of the real life inspirations for his fictional book The Good Lieutenant, which is an eye-opening look at women in the military.
June 2, 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks: Past American Voice
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Gwendolyn Brooks' birth, we turn to our extensive archive to present this look back at the legacy of the legendary poet. 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.
May 26, 2017 William Trowbridge
Missouri Poet Laureate (2012-2016), William Trowbridge is the third person appointed since the creation of the position in 2007. In this reading at Rockhurst University's 2014 Midwest Poets Series, Trowbridge reads poems from his numerous books that are now included in his collection of new and selected poems, Put This On, Please. He shares his "Unofficial Missouri Poem" as well as his nod to Gwendolyn Brooks with his poem "We Real Old," and reads works about his childhood, his father, and his own parenting experiences. Trowbridge, who also published three new poems in New Letters (Vol. 83, Nos. 2 & 3) discusses his previous collections of poetry in this 2011 interview.
May 19, 2017 Dave Smith
This conversation with Dave Smith, the author of more than 20 books of poetry, essays, memoir and fiction, is the second half of this interview recorded as part of the Midwest Poets Series. He talks about the importance of elegiac poetry and the influence of other poets on his work. Smith illustrates how writing poetry has allowed him to recover long forgotten memories by reading from his book The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000. He also reads from his essay collection, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry and from his essay included in the 80th anniversary edition of New Lettersmagazine.
May 12, 2017 Bianca Stone
Poet and visual artist Bianca Stone talks about her various projects, from her first full length book Someone Else's Wedding Vows to her 2016 illustrated collection, Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours, and reveals how she uses her visual art to create a new interpretation of the work rather than simply illustrate the narrative of the poem. Stone also discusses her collaboration with poet Anne Carson to release an illustrated translation of Sophocles' Antigonick, as well as the inspiration she draws from past poets, including her grandmother, the late Ruth Stone, and the foundation she chairs to preserve her work and ensure a writing space for single mothers.
May 5, 2017 Diane Williams
Coming of age in the 1960s, Diane Williams struggled to be taken seriously as a writer and editor in the male dominated era. Now, a three time winner of the Pushcart Prize of Fiction, she is the author of numerous books, and the editor of the acclaimed literary journal Noon. In this live reading, she discusses her book of short fiction titled, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine.
Kansas City Literary Events