New Letters
On The Air

Michael Nava

As an attorney for the California Supreme Court, Michael Nava moonlighted as a novelist, authoring seven novels in the Henry Rios mystery series, six of which won the Lambda Literary Awards for Gay Men's Mystery books. (Now retired, he's reimagine...

Judith Ortiz Cofer: Past American Voice

The work of the late Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952-2016) often reflected her Puerto Rican heritage and her childhood in New Jersey. A li...

John Ashbery: Past American Voice

The poet, critic, and translator John Ashbery, who died on September 3rd at age 90, won nearly every major writing award, including in a single year, the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Besides writing ...

Natasha Trethewey

In the first part of this interview, Mississippi Poet Laureate (2012-16) and guest editor of Best American Poetry 2017,...

James Tolan and Olivia Stiffler

Olivia Stiffler always wanted to be a poet, but writing took a backseat to her family life. Decades later, while at a Savannah writing workshop, she met James Tolan (shown), a poet and English professor, who helped her envision her work as a...

Conger Beasley: Past American Voice

We honor the Past American Voice of Conger Beasley Jr.(1940-2016). This author of fiction, poetry, essays and non-fiction covered various subjects, ranging from texts for the Sierra Club Guide to the history of the Lakota Sioux to the fictionalize...

Jeannette Walls

A journalist who worked for such publications as Esquire, New York Magazine, and MSNBC.com, Jeannette Walls turned to memoir for her first book, the 2005 international bestseller, ...

Kent Haruf: Past American Voice

We look back on the life of novelist Kent Haruf (1943-2014), still a favorite writer of book clubs across the country. September 2017 marks the inaugural Kent Haruf Literar...

Rachel Hall

Published in various anthologies and literary magazines, including New Letters as the Fiction Prize winner of 2004, Rachel Hall discusses her first book, a collection o...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 Dako...

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....

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 ...

Whitney Terrell

Novelist Whitney Terrell talks about his time being embedded with the military in Iraq, writing nonfiction for ...

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, An...

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 Mi...

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 i...

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...

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 accl...

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch is a poet and "MacArthur genius" who heads up the prestigious Guggenheim Foundation and was most recently the editor of ...

Jo McDougall

Jo McDougall discusses her two recent books of poetry—The Undiscovered Room and ...

Juan Felipe Herrera

In front of an audience at the Kansas City Public Library, Juan Felipe Herrera, our first Chicano U.S. Poet Laur...

The Augurs: Women of an Age

In ancient Rome, an Augur was thought to be a herald or one who could interpret the natural signs as an indication of divine approval or disapproval of proposed actions. This public poetry reading, recorded in Washington D.C. and sponsored by the ...

The Cruelest Month

"April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land..." The famous words of poet T.S. Eliot prompted us to mix this anthology of American poets, who examine the mysteries of love in various forms. Listen to former Poets La...

Kansas City Literary Events

Craig Johnson

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Kansas City, Mo.

News

Tracy K. Smith has been named the next U.S. Poet Laureate!

Hear poetry from her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Life on Mars, on the New Letters on the Air half-hour show or a short excerpt on KCUR before she was in Kansas City last year. Find out more about our new ambassador for poetry from NPR.

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Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.