August 7, 2020 The Writing Well
We continue our "Classics Series" by going to the writing well to fill our creative spirits with advice from several fiction writers, including Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jane Smiley, who reveals her "Five Writing TipsThe Last Hundred Years, she has also written the essay collection Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. Charles Baxter, whose novels include The Soul Thief and The Feast of Love, gives advice for new writers, as he discusses The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot and the influence of narrative poetry on his fiction. Acclaimed short story writer Antonya Nelson, whose most recent novel is called Bound, gives a fresh take on "writing what you know" as she talks about creating a hybrid reality of her own experiences and invention. And finally, another Pulitzer winner, Richard Ford, whose recent novels include Canada and Let Me Be Frank With You, gives encouragement on finishing a novel.
August 14, 2020 Back to the Writing Well
Our "Classics Series" continues as we go "Back to the Writing Well" to hear from writers of place, including the late Pat Conroy. Famous for his novels about the south, with several made into movies such as The Great Santini, he finally puts his father to rest with his 2013 memoir, The Death of Santini and talks about his work with Rainy Day Books' Vivien Jennings. New York City's Elizabeth Gaffney, editor-at-large for the literary and cultural magazine, A Public Space, discusses her post-WWII novel, When the World Was Young, with fellow novelist and UMKC creative writing professor Whitney Terrell. Outtakes from George Saunders' 2014 presentation, not included in his previous New Letters on the Air episode, focus on his writing life and the multi-prize winning collection of stories, Tenth of December. The trio shares their varying writing techniques and inspirations as they discuss the power of writing and literature.
July 31, 2020 Clarion Collection
We begin our "Classics Series" with our program celebrating our 2013 Clarion Award for Best Radio Talk/Interview Program from the Association for Women in Communications, which features audio excerpts from our award-winning interviews. Jamaica Kincaid reads from her novel Mr. Potter, based loosely on her life and relationship with her father, while Luis Alberto Urrea discusses how his family history shaped his novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter. Jim Shepard talks at the Kansas City Public Library about using satire to write about tragedy and reads from his book of short stories, You Think That's Bad. British authorAlex George discusses writing his generational novel, A Good American, about German immigrants who settled in Missouri in the late 1800s, and what he learned from it. Finally, mother/daughter poets, Gloria Vando and Anika Paris, read from their collection, Woven Voices: Three Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives that also includes work by the grandmother, Anita Velez-Mitchell, which influenced the award-winning musical, Temple of the Souls.
July 24, 2020 Favorites
This program features excerpts from shows of the past decade with multi-award winning poet Nikki Giovanni; a new poetry voice for the decade, Marcus Wicker; Booker Prize winning Australian writer, Thomas Keneally, whose novel was the basis for the film Schindler's List; the always inspiring workshop poet, Ellen Bass; and two very different Missouri novelists, Daniel Woodrell and Alex George. Join us as Assistant Producer Jamie Walsh shares behind the scenes thoughts and impressions of a few favorite shows from her decade with New Letters on the Air.
July 17, 2020 Women Writing Women
In this special anthology program novelist Meg Wolitzer and poet Molly Peacock both discuss the importance of writing about the lives and work of women. Wolitzer reads from her novel The Female Persuasion while Peacock shares poems from her collection The Analyst and talks about her earlier biography The Paper Garden.
July 10, 2020 Molly Peacock
American-Canadian essayist, poet and biographer Molly Peacock gives an in-depth look into her latest work, The Analyst, her 2017 poetry collection that traces her decades-long relationship with her psychologist, who suffered a stroke. Full of insightful commentary on the nature of personal growth, facing hardships and how relationships change over time, Peacock shares her reflections on art, love and friendship. She also talks about her work with sonnets and reads a very early poem published in New Letters. Previous shows with Molly Peacock from 1981, 1997, and 1999 are available in our audio archives. She was interviewed while in Kansas City for her 2019 presentation at the Kansas City Public Library.
July 3, 2020 Joy Harjo
In this Save America's Treasures recording we revisit a 1991 interview by former New Letters on the Air host, Rebekah Presson, who talks with well known Native American US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. She reads from her book In Mad Love and War, which won both the William Carlos Williams prize from the Poetry Society of America and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Prize. Harjo—whose memoir, Crazy Brave, was released in July 2012—makes this interview unique by sharing one of her other creative talents, playing the saxophone.
June 26, 2020 Cheers to All the Years
In this program, we look back at our decades of publishing the National Magazine Award-winning New Letters, the American Book Award-winning BkMk (BookMark) Press, and the radio show, New Letters on the Air. Our shared mission to discover, publish, and promote the best new writing, wherever it may be found, is apparent in our audio archives, that go back to 1977. Robert Stewart, Ben Furnish and Angela Elam share stories of collaboration with clips from Jericho Brown, Michael Horovitz, Dan Jaffe, Mariko Nagai, Richard Wilbur, Billy Collins, and Christie Hodgen. Listen as we explore our literary operation, located in the University House on the UMKC campus.
June 19, 2020 Nikky Finney
Poet Nikky Finney discusses how her sense of social justice was informed by her father, the first African American Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, revealing how growing up in the political household shaped her art. She reads a poetic tribute to her father from her second book, Rice, as well as her long, piercing poem "Dancing with Strom" from her fourth collection, the National Book Award-winning Head Off and Split. The editor of the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, she is now the author of the 2020 collection Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts. The first half of this interview focusing on her literary influences is also available in our audio archives.
June 12, 2020 Etheridge Knight: Past American Voice
The late Etheridge Knight began writing poetry in the 1960s, when he was imprisoned for armed robbery, where he discovered that “art is ultimately about freedom.” This program features excerpts from a 1986 poetry reading and a 1989 interview by Rebekah Presson, when they discuss the role of black men in society and his use of prison as a metaphor. The author of four books, he reads from the most comprehensive one: The Essential Etheridge Knight.
June 5, 2020 Claudia Rankine
A 2016 MacArthur Genius Fellow and author of Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine discusses the motivation for writing this multi-award-winning work that features poetry, essays, and art, ranging from contemporary pieces to William Turner's paintings of The Slave Ship. Woven throughout the conversation, like the events portrayed in her books, is a discussion of micro-aggressions against not only black individuals, but women as well. Rankine describes her creative writing process while a 2015 guest of Rockhurst University's Midwest Poets Series. In a 2008 interview by New Letters editor Robert Stewart, she discusses her earlier work.
May 29, 2020 That's It!
This special program features the final issue of new works of poetry, fiction, essays and reviews, edited by Robert Stewart for New Letters: Volume 86 Nos. 1 & 2. In this Diastole House reading in February 2020, Albert Goldbarth, John Moessner, Trish Reeves, and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg share their poems from this issue, while poet H.C. Palmer, whose review of John Balaban's recent book Empires also appears in the magazine, reads a tribute letter from that poet. They also applaud fiction writer and incoming New Letters editor Christie Hodgen, as they discuss the influence and impact of Stewart's work as an editor, poet, essayist and champion for the literary arts.
Kansas City Literary Events
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