February 24, 2017 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.
February 17, 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.
February 10, 2017 Phyllis Becker
A great promoter of poetry in Kansas City, Phyllis Becker served on the board of The Writers Place and is coordinator of the Riverfront Reading Series. Her own publications include the 2008 book, How I Came to Love Jazz and other Poems, an earlier chapbook, Walking Naked Into Sunday, and her poetry set to music by jazz vocalist Angela Hagenbach on the CD, Poetry of Love. In 2016, Phyllis Becker shared more of her jazz poetry in New Letters magazine, Vol. 83, No. 1.
February 3, 2017 August Wilson: Past American Voice
We remember the late August Wilson in this 2002 interview with the playwright who chronicled African-American life in the 20th century in plays such as Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, and The Piano Lesson. In this interview Wilson, a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, talks about starting out as a playwright and how he creates such memorable characters who strike a chord with so many in his audience.
January 27, 2017 Dan Jaffe
Poet Dan Jaffe, the guest co-editor of a recent issue of New Letters magazine that focuses on jazz, has always combined his poetry and his love of music in performances with modern composers of opera and classical music, as well as jazz. In this program, he reads from Festival and Playing the Word: Jazz Poems, which explores the jazz world, especially the Celestial City, a nickname for Kansas City.
January 20, 2017 Anne-Marie Fyfe
Irish poet and former Chair of the Poetry Society in England, Anne-Marie Fyfe explores parallels in her poetry with the life and work of the renowned William Butler Yeats as part of the "Mapping Yeats Symposium" at the 2015 Kansas City Irish Festival. The creator of the Coffee-House Poetry series at the Troubadour in London, Fyfe reads from her fourth and fifth books, Understudies: New and Selected Poems and the 2015 House of Small Absences.
January 13, 2017 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 C.D. Wright. He also reads from and talks about the shaping of his selected works, Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems 1985-2005, and his newer poetry book Imaginary Logic.
January 6, 2017 Alice Friman
Alice Friman, the 2012 Georgia Author of the Year for her book, Vinculum, discusses that collection and her darkly humorous 2014 book, The View from Saturn, as well as her earlier work, The Book of the Rotten Daughter. Friman talks about the importance of place and family in her writing, and how poetic form helps her reveal the most intimate aspects of her life. Previous programs from a 1997 interview and a 2000 public poetry reading that feature Alice Friman’s earlier works are available in our Audio Archives. Find four new poems by Alice Friman in New Letters magazine, Vol. 83, No. 1.
December 30, 2016 Back to the Writing Well
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. Hear more about the craft of fiction in our program The Writing Well, available in our audio archives.
December 23, 2016 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 16, 2016 The Loudest Voice
A holiday favorite, this highly anthologized short story is read by the late author Grace Paley. "The Loudest Voice" is an amusing tale about a little Jewish girl, chosen to play the lead in her school's Christmas pageant, and her family's reactions. Despite the story's popularity, Grace Paley's 1998 reading of it for New Letters on the Air was the first ever recorded.
Kansas City Literary Events