January 19, 2018 Naomi Shihab Nye
Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, whose numerous books of poetry, essays and stories have delighted children and adults alike, reads her poem "Famous" that was recently turned into picture book and discusses what inspired her exploration of the word and led to its creation. She also talks about her recent novel, The Turtle of Oman, that deals with a child's attachment to that exotic place, and reads from her poetry book, Honeybee, along with some new work.
January 26, 2018 Kenneth Irby: Past American Voice
The late poet Kenneth Irby was born in Texas and raised in the Midwest before serving in the U.S. Army. A graduate of Harvard and Berkeley, Irby settled in Lawrence, Kansas, where he spent his teaching and writing career at the University of Kansas. Often associated with the Black Mountain Poets, particularly Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Ed Dorn, Irby tells former Kansas Poet Laureate Denise Low how the connection was made even though he never visited there. Winner of a Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Irby reads from The Intent On: Collected Poems 1962-2006.
January 12, 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.
January 5, 2018 Al Young
In the second half of our conversation with two time American Book Award-winning poet Al Young, he shares more from his book Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry as well as a couple of poems included in his earlier books Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006 and The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000. Young also talks about his tenure as the California State Poet Laureate and reads his poem that was included in The Best American Poetry 2016. The first part of this interview with Al Young is available in our Audio Archives.
December 29, 2017 Al Young
Former California Poet Laureate (2005-2008) Al Young has penned 25 books, won two American Book Awards, and was recently included in The Best American Poetry 2016. In the first half of our conversation, he discusses how his family and childhood in Mississippi shaped some of his writing which includes poetry, memoir, and fiction. He talks about his many inspirations, especially music, and reads from his book Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry. The second part of this interview with Al Young is available in our Audio Archives.
December 22, 2017 Jen Mann
Kansas blogger Jen Mann talks about her humorous book Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She describes how a viral post about her disdain for Elf-on-the-Shelf brought national attention to her blog "People I Want to Punch in the Throat," resulting in two books published by Random House. Now she uses the blogging platform to help her book career. She also discusses the inspiration she draws from her husband and two children and reads about her family's holiday antics from her festive collection.
December 15, 2017 Chanukah Tales
Poet Marilyn Kallet reads from her book, One for Each Night: Chanukah Tales and Recipes, which she wrote for families, who may need ideas on what to share in lean times. The book features humorous stories about her mother and being Jewish in the deep south, along with tales about traditional Chanukah foods, and provides several recipes taken from her mother-in-law and others. In this program, we put the recipes to a test with a family of four Jewish women in Kansas City, including KCUR’s own Linda Sher, and share poetry and food to mark the holiday.
December 8, 2017 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.
December 1, 2017 The World Is One Place
Writers Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez discuss co-editing the anthology The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East. The pair, who both have Cherokee ancestry, discuss their interest in the parallels between Native peoples of the US and the Middle East. Glancy, who visited Syria and Jordan as an Arts America Speaker for the United States Information Agency in the early 1990s, shares some of her poetry in the book and how she was compelled to write more after the start of the Syrian Civil War. She also inspired Rodriguez to write the essay that ends the poetry collection. Joined by BkMk Press Editor Ben Furnish, they reveal the impetus behind this anthology of Native American poets. An earlier program featuring some of the contributing poets reading from this collection can be found in our Audio Archives.
November 24, 2017 Michelle Boisseau: Past American Voice
Poet Michelle Boisseau died November 15, 2017 from cancer at age 62. In this interview conducted earlier this year at the Kansas City Public Library, the late Michelle Boisseau discusses her fifth book, Among the Gorgons. The poet, editor, and Guggenheim Fellow reveals how her own aging shed new light on some of the Greek mythology that inspired the Tampa Review Poetry Prize-winning collection. Also a co-author of the textbook Writing Poems, now in its eighth edition, Boisseau talks about her work as a literary citizen, and some of the editing she's done with BkMk Press to help other poets hone their books. She also reads the poem from the book that appeared in Best American Poetry 2016. Programs with Michelle Boisseau from 1996, 2007, and 2010 are also available in our audio archives.
November 17, 2017 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.
November 10, 2017 Bonnie Bolling
Bonnie Bolling's award winning poetry collections often tackle tough subject matter, blending tragedy with beauty. The editor-in-cheif 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.
Kansas City Literary Events