Upcoming New Letters on the Air Broadcasts

Please note the date listed is the satellite uplink date; the day and time of broadcast is determined by individual stations.

February 14, 2020Ernest Gaines: Past American Voice

We remember one of America’s best-known contemporary writers, Ernest Gaines (1933-2019). In this Past American Voices episode featuring excerpts from archive programs, the MacArthur “genius” fellow talks about his work and life and reads from his National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel, A Lesson Before Dying.

February 7, 2020 – 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 interview, 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.


Recent New Letters on the Air Broadcasts

January 31, 2020 – Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry reads from his multi-award winning Olio at the Kansas City Public Library, during his 2019 visit to the Unesco Creative City of Music. The book delves into the voices of African American creatives in the 19th and early 20th century, allowing them to engage with each other in ways not possible in history. Jess is also interviewed by the Poet Laureate of Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Jazz District, Glenn North. Listen to this conversation about poetic form, music and the legacy of African American poetry and history with Tyehimba Jess, who is also the author of Leadbelly.

January 24, 2020 – Ben Lerner

Kansas native Ben Lerner, listed as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, penned three collections of poetry before turning to fiction. While at the Kansas City Public Library, Lerner, who often weaves personal experiences into his writing, reads from his third novel, The Topeka School, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award.

January 17, 2020 – 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 (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.

January 10, 2020 – Russell Banks

Acclaimed novelist, retired Princeton professor and mountain climber, Russell Banks discusses his recent memoir, Voyager: Travel Writings. Interviewed by his former student and now fellow novelist, Whitney Terrell, Banks reveals how his childhood traumas played into his relationships in front of an audience at a Literacy Kansas City event. He also talks about his time spent traveling to places like Haiti and Jamaica, and how white America has overlooked and belittled the Native and minority populations of the country, and how that plays into his writing. His books, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction were adapted into award-winning films.

January 3, 2020 – Kathryn Nuernberger

Poet and essayist Kathryn Nuernberger, the former editor of Pleiades Press at the University of Central Missouri, now lives and teaches in Minnesota. She discusses how she once shied away from being a “woman writer” and why she now embraces it, as she reads from her 2017 essay collection, Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past, and shares poetry from her earlier book, Rag and Bone, as well as from her forthcoming collection, Rue.