May 24, 2019 Tim O'Brien
Vietnam veteran and National Book Award-winning fiction writer Tim O'Brien discusses his experiences and reads from his now classic short story collection, The Things They Carried, as part of the NEA's Big Read. Originally released in 1990, the book follows a fictional platoon of American soldiers in Vietnam. In this excerpt of the 2017 presentation at the Kansas City Public Library, O'Brien reads from the story "Ambush" and details how he transformed events in his soldier life into his powerful fiction, as he explores how war affects soldiers and families. He also gives some tips as he shares his writing process.
May 31, 2019 Justin Martin
Justin Martin is the author of several biographies, but his fifth book, Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians, is his first group biography. It explores a critical four-year period in the life of Walt Whitman and his artistic associates before the Civil War. Citing a lifelong curiosity to understand the real people he writes about and not the mythical figures they become over time, Martin's book also explores the bohemian lifestyle in 1850s New York City, along with some of the well-known artists who frequented Pfaff's Saloon and their influence on the artistic culture of the time.
May 17, 2019 Monica Youn
A lawyer-turned-poet, Monica Youn has written three books of poetry, and now teaches creative writing in New York. Twice a finalist for the National Book Award, she reveals why she felt the need to leave the legal field for creative writing after her second poetry book. In part one of this conversation, she also discusses how historical views on a woman's place in society and her own struggles with infertility helped shape her third book, Blackacre, winner of the 2017 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Part two of this program with Monica Youn is also available in our audio archives.
May 10, 2019 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.
May 3, 2019 Margot Livesey
Scottish-born writer Margot Livesey began reading at an early age and later went on to pen a book of short stories and eight novels, and most recently, a book on the craft of writing called The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing. In this 2018 presentation at the Kansas City Public Library, Livesey talks about her evolution as a reader and writer, and shares passages from her tenth book that gives insight into not only her writing life, but those of the authors of famous books from Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary to Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Shows with Margot Livesey from 2001, 2006, and 2011 are also available in our audio archives.
April 26, 2019 Mia Leonin and Gustavo Adolfo Aybar
In this public reading at The Writer's Place in Kansas City, poets Mia Leonin and Gustavo Adolfo Aybar celebrate Hispanic island cultures. Aybar, a native of the Dominican Republic, is a Cave Canem Fellow who shares poems from his 2017 debut collection, We Seek Asylum,winner of Willow Books Literature Awards Grand Prize. Leonin, who has explored her Cuban-American heritage in her memoir Havana and Other Missing Fathers, reads from her 2018 collection from BkMk Press called Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child.
April 19, 2019 W.S. Merwin: Past American Voice
We look back on the life of the prolific poet W.S. Merwin, who died in March 2019. In this 2000 interview with fellow poet H.L. Hix, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, who was often inspired by nature and concerned with ecology and preservation, reads from The Folding Cliffs, which refers to his long-time home in Hawaii. Programs with W.S. Merwin from 1979 and 1993 are also available in our audio archives.
April 12, 2019 Ekphrasis Poetry Reading
In this live reading at Commerce Bank's The Box Gallery, poets Wyatt Townley, H.C. Palmer, Brian Daldorph, Melinda Hemmelgarn, and Catherine Anderson read poems associated with the Ekphrasis exhibit and share stories with visual artists Peg Craig, Meghan Rowswell and Susan Glasgow. They talk about how they used each other's work to create something new, ultimately resulting in the book of 40 artists and poets called Ekphrasis.
April 5, 2019 Edward Hirsch
Edward Hirsch is a poet and "MacArthur genius" who heads up the prestigious Guggenheim Foundation and was the editor of The Best American Poetry 2016. In the first part of this interview, he talks about editing that anthology and his book for readers called A Poet's Glossary. He also reads from his book The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems. A 1991 interview with Edward Hirsch is also available in our Audio Archives. The second part of this conversation in available in our audio archives.
March 29, 2019 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.
March 22, 2019 Laura Kasischke
While at the Kansas City Public Library, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Laura Kasischke reads from her 2017 Where Now: New and Selected Poems, including her tongue-in-cheek beauty queen poems. Also an author of novels and short stories, she talks about her writing process and how it varies for her fiction and poetry.
March 15, 2019 Feminist Poets: Past American Voices
This program pays tribute to the past American voices of feminist poets from the last century, who opened doors at publishing houses for the vast numbers of talented women writers today. Listen to excerpts from Pulitzer Prize winners Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) and Carolyn Kizer(1925-2014), as well as MacArthur "genius" fellow Adrienne Rich (1929-2012). We'll also listen to the late Audre Lorde (1934-1992), who was the State Poet Laureate of New York when she died in 1992. To find more programs with these poets, search our Audio Archives.
Kansas City Literary Events