August 17, 2018 Native American Poets Visit the Middle East
This audio anthology features readings by six poets, including a few who are part of the book co-edited by Cherokee writers Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez called The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East. Kim Shuck, Bojan Louis, LeAnne Howe, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, and Allison Hedge Coke read poetry that intertwines stories about the history, culture, and landscape of the Middle East with their experiences. They were recorded at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Los Angeles. We'll also hear the co-editors, along with BkMk Press editor, Ben Furnish, talk about this project supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the web at www.arts.gov. A second program featuring more from the editors of this collection can be found in our Audio Archives.
August 24, 2018 Ted Olson
Ted Olson is the winner of two Appalachian Book of the Year Awards and is a six-time Grammy nominee for Best Album Notes. A professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, Olson has served as editor for Crossroads: A Southern Culture Annual. He discusses how his writing has been impacted by the region's history, literature and music, and reads from his poetry collections Revelations and Breathing in Darkness. He also shares stories about his time in Spain and reveals what he learned studying with poet Wendell Berry and the profound influence of editing the late James Still.
August 31, 2018 Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart, the St. Louis born writer and editor of New Letters magazine, has written several books of poetry and essays. Winner of the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence and a National Magazine Award for Editorial Excellence, Stewart talks about his creative process and discusses how his blue collar past has inspired his writing, from his 1988 book Plumbers (reissued in 2017) to his 2018 collection of poetry, Working Class. He also reads from his 2014 essay book, The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values. Earlier interviews with Robert Stewart from 1983 and 2005 are also available in our audio archives.
August 10, 2018 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 taught for years 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.
August 3, 2018 Dave Smith
Poet Dave Smith grew up in Virginia’s tidewater region along the coast, so it’s no surprise that his many books of poetry and essays are abundant in inspiration from the outdoor life in that area. Smith, who has been described as a poet of place, discusses how landscape and the rituals of hunting figure into his work, and how writing poetry is an act of recovery. He reads from his 2011 poetry book Hawks on Wires and discusses his essays included in New Letters magazine and in his 2006 collection, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry. Earlier programs from 1981 and 1988, as well as another program produced from this interview with Dave Smith, are available in our Audio Archives.
July 27, 2018 Deborah Miranda
Native American poet Deborah Miranda reads from her award-winning mixed-genre book Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir. She discusses the historical erasure of California Indians and their almost total decimation at the hands of colonial Spanish missionaries. Using this work as a way to piece together the fragmented culture of the California Indians, Miranda reveals how she researched this collection using her own genealogy and oral histories, as well as newspaper articles, mission records, and letters. This presentation was recorded at the University of Central Missouri’s 2016 Pleiades Visiting Writers Series.
July 20, 2018 Philip Lee Williams
In the second half of this interview with Philip Lee Williams, winner of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association, he discusses his most recent works of poetry, The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram and The Color of All Things: 99 Love Poems, winner of the Adrian Bond Award for Poetry at Mercer University Press. He describes his early childhood in upstate South Carolina, wandering the valley once traveled by Bartram that housed a British colonial fort before being flooded in creation of Lake Keowee, and talks about the influence of Bartram's work on others. Williams reads poetry from these books while we play some music he composed for The Flower Seeker. The first half of this interview is available in our archives.
July 13, 2018 Susan Aizenberg
Poet Susan Aizenberg discusses the use of fiction within poetry, admitting that she draws from real life, but notes that there is a distinction between truth and fact. Recently retired from teaching at Nebraska's Creighton University, she reads from her third collection, Quiet City, honored in the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards. Now living in Iowa City and teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, she looks back at the anthology she co-edited called The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women and discusses winning the 2014 Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association.
July 6, 2018 Jo McDougall
Named the Arkansas Poet Laureate in 2018, Jo McDougall discusses her two recent books of poetry—The Undiscovered Room and In the Home of the Famous Dead—which explore various aspects of rural life, revealing the influence of the south and the midwest on her work. She also shares stories about her early life on a rice farm in rural Arkansas from her book, Daddy's Money: A Memoir of Farm and Family. Known for the vivid characters in her poetry, she discusses the importance of being mentored by Miller Williams (the late poet who read at President Clinton's inauguration) and how she's become more philosophical in her recent work. Interviews with Jo McDougall from 1987and 2002 are also available in our Audio Archives.
June 29, 2018 Daniel Magariel
Daniel Magariel, a Kansas City native, is a young writer who hit it big with his debut novel, One of the Boys. A New York Times Editor's Choice in 2017, the book is now out in paperback and published in several languages. One of six in six hundred to be accepted to the Syracuse University MFA Program, he had initially planned to write fiction about American militias, until his professor, the acclaimed fiction writer George Saunders, convinced him to shape his earlier short stories into a novel. Magariel reads from One of the Boys and reveals the inspiration behind this story, told by a twelve year old narrator, about two brothers and their addict father.
June 22, 2018 Charles Harper Webb
Guggenheim Fellow, licensed psychotherapist, and author of 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 collections, Brain Camp, and his book of new and selected poems, Shadow Ball, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which is releasing his new poetry book, Sidebend World in fall 2018. A former professional guitar player, he discusses his love of music, and reveals how baseball and the natural world have helped inspire some of his writing.
June 15, 2018 Naomi Shihab Nye
Arab-American writer Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis and is now a long-time resident of Texas with her husband, photographer Michael Nye. She discusses how her late father has impacted her writing. Aziz Shihab was a journalist who emigrated from Palestine to Missouri, where he met her mother and made the U.S. his home, though he always went back to visit family, including his mother who lived to be 106. In the second part of this interview, Nye reads from Transfer, her book that's dedicated to her father, and reflects on refugees and their stories, after she was the keynote speaker on the theme of immigration at the 2017 National Storytelling Network Conference in Kansas City. Part one of this interview along with programs with Naomi Shihab Nye from 2003 and 2006 are also available in our audio archives.
June 8, 2018 Jericho Brown
Guggenheim fellow Jericho Brown describes the joy he finds in writing poetry and how his work helps him examine his world as a gay black man. He talks about some of his poetic mentors—from Emily Dickinson to Alice Walker—and the lessons he strives to pass along to his students at Emory University. He also reveals the story behind changing his name and discusses his childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he was raised by fundamental Christians. Brown reads from his second collection, The New Testament, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, as well as his earlier American Book Award winner, Please.
Kansas City Literary Events