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.
June 1, 2018 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.
May 25, 2018 Matt Gallagher
Former U.S. Army Captain Matt Gallagher discusses his novel, Youngblood, which draws from his military service during the Iraq War. Also the author of the memoir, Kaboom, and co-editor and contributor to the collection, Fire & Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, Gallagher discusses how he crafted his book of fiction with fellow novelist Whitney Terrell, in this 2017 interview at the Kansas City Public Library. He talks about his desire to create fully dimensional and complex Iraqi characters, while capturing some of the moral ambiguity that exits on all sides during military conflict. The veteran is currently an instructor for Words After War, a weekly writing workshop that brings veterans and civilians together to examine war through literature.
May 18, 2018 Ellen Bass
Growing up in a Philadelphia apartment above a liquor store, poet Ellen Bass thought her childhood was "the most mundane, pedestrian, unpoetic world you could possibly live in," but after many years and the death of her parents, she finds herself poetically inspired by that time, especially in her two recent books, Like a Beggar and The Human Line. In part one of this conversation, she also talks about being honored by the late U.S. Poet Laureate, Philip Levine in The New Yorker's debut podcast, and gives advice through poetry for when bad things happen.
May 11, 2018 Bonnie Bolling
Bonnie Bolling's award winning poetry collections often tackle tough subject matter, blending tragedy with beauty. The editor-in-chief of Verdad magazine since 2006, she now divides her time between Southern California and The Persian Gulf. Bolling discusses her 2016 John Ciardi Poetry Prize winning collection, The Red Hijab, which reflects on her life in Bahrain during the 2011 uprising, and reads from her earlier book, In the Kingdom of the Sons, which won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry.
May 4, 2018 Monica Youn
The second half of this conversation with lawyer-turned-poet Monica Youn focuses more on her background. Both her parents were born in Korea and met in the U.S., where she was raised in Houston and rarely heard about family history. Youn, a member of the Asian-American Writers Workshop in New York, talks about her struggles with stereotyping and her uneasy relationship with Korean culture, as she reads from her three award-winning books, Barter, Ignatz, and Blackacre. She also reveals how world stories, such as Greek and Nordic myths and medieval French and English literature figure into her poetry about the present. Part one of this program with Monica Youn is also available in our audio archives.
April 27, 2018 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.
April 20, 2018 Kansas Poets Laureate
The second half of this reading by Kansas Poets Laureate, Past & Present, recorded at the University of Kansas Center for Design Research begins with Wyatt Townley (2013-15), who introduces the Kansas Poet Laureate she followed, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (2009-13). She reads from her newest collection about yoga, as well as her prize-winning book, Chasing Weather. Denise Low (2007-09) reveals some poetic inspirations for her new books, from turtles to her Native American ancestry, then circles back around to the current Kansas Poet Laureate, Kevin Rabas (2017-19).
April 13, 2018 Kansas Poets Laureate
In part one Kansas Poets Laureate, Past & Present, the current holder of the post, Kevin Rabas, reads along with former laureates Eric McHenry and Wyatt Townley. They share their works, new and old, in a presentation sponsored by the Kansas Area Watershed Council at the University of Kansas Center for Design Research. The poets reveal how they infuse avocations and personal experience into their books, including Kevin's jazz, Eric's humor and history, and Wyatt's practice of dance and yoga.
Kansas City Literary Events