July 13, 2018 Susan Aizenberg
Poet Susan Aizenberg discusses the use of fiction within poetry, admitting that she draws from real life, but notes that there is a distinction between truth and fact. Recently retired from teaching at Creighton University, she reads from her third collection, Quiet City, honored in the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards. She also discusses the anthology she co-edited called The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women and discusses winning the 2014 Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association.
July 20, 2018 Ted Olson
Ted Olson is the winner of two Appalachian Book of the Year Awards and is a six-time Grammy nominee for Best Album Notes. A professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, Olson has served as editor for Crossroads: A Southern Culture Annual. He discusses how his writing has been impacted by the region's history, literature and music, and reads from his poetry collections Revelations and Breathing in Darkness. He also shares stories about his time in Spain and reveals what he learned studying with poet Wendell Berry and the profound influence of editing the late James Still.
July 6, 2018 Jo McDougall
Jo McDougall discusses her two recent books of poetry—The Undiscovered Room and In the Home of the Famous Dead—which explore various aspects of rural life, revealing the influence of the south and the midwest on her work. She also shares stories about her early life on a rice farm in rural Arkansas from her book, Daddy's Money: A Memoir of Farm and Family. Known for the vivid characters in her poetry, she discusses the importance of being mentored by Miller Williams (the late poet who read at President Clinton's inauguration) and how she's become more philosophical in her recent work. Interviews with Jo McDougall from 1987and 2002 are also available in our Audio Archives.
June 29, 2018 Daniel Magariel
Daniel Magariel, a Kansas City native, is a young writer who hit it big with his debut novel, One of the Boys. A New York Times Editor's Choice in 2017, the book is now out in paperback and published in several languages. One of six in six hundred to be accepted to the Syracuse University MFA Program, he had initially planned to write fiction about American militias, until his professor, the acclaimed fiction writer George Saunders, convinced him to shape his earlier short stories into a novel. Magariel reads from One of the Boys and reveals the inspiration behind this story, told by a twelve year old narrator, about two brothers and their addict father.
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.
Kansas City Literary Events