November 22, 2019 Stewart O'Nan
Though he's now the author of 17 novels and served as editor for The Vietnam Reader of Fiction and Nonfiction on the War, Stewart O'Nan didn't begin his career as a writer. He started out as a half-hearted engineer until advice from his wife led him writing books as varied as the best-selling novel, Snow Angels (now a film) to the non-fiction book co-written with Stephen King called Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season. While onstage at the Kansas City Public Library as UMKC's 2017 Cockefair Chair Writer-in-Residence, O'Nan discusses how he gave up engineering for the writing life and reads from his novel, West of Sunset, in part one of this conversation.
November 29, 2019 Bojan Louis
A member of the Navajo Nation, Bojan Louis is a poet, fiction writer, essayist and author of the 2018 American Book Award-winning poetry collection Currents, published by BkMk press. Louis, who worked for years as an electrician and formerly served as poetry editor for RED INK: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, and Humanities, discusses how his previous career and the culture and environment of the Navajo people have influenced his writing and also talks about the three languages he's brought into his poetry--Dine, English, and Spanish.
November 15, 2019 Meg Wolitzer
New York Times Bestselling author Meg Wolitzer reads from her most recent novel, The Female Persuasion, and discusses its themes of feminism and the tendency to idealize our mentors. Her work has long centered on the experiences of women, with three of her books having been adapted for film, including The Wife. Wolitzer reflects on her career, and her mother--novelist and poet Hilma Wolitzer, in a conversation with KCUR's Anne Kniggendorf.
November 8, 2019 Alan Proctor
Alan Proctor's book, The Sweden File: Memoir of an American Ex-Patriate, was named one of the best memoirs in 2015 by The Kansas City Star. Released in its second edition in 2019 by Open Books Press, the memoir is made up of collected letters and essays from and about his late brother, Bruce Stevens Proctor. He talks about Bruce's life as a Pentagon insider who became an American deserter, and his views on the Vietnam War. In this program comprised of both a studio interview in 2016 with KCUR's CJ Janovy and a 2018 New Letters on the Air public conversation with the Kansas City Actors Theatre at the City Stage Theater in Union Station, Proctor describes the events and emotions he and his family went through during Bruce's journey from America to Sweden and eventually Canada, and discusses the process for shaping this very personal book. Westphalia Press, which published the first edition of the memoir, also published Alan Proctor's debut novel in 2018, Adirondack Summer, 1969.
November 1, 2019 Laura Kasischke
National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Laura Kasischke discusses her journey to writing fiction. Now the author of ten novels, three of which have been made into films, she reads from her Independent Publisher Book Award-winning short story collection, If a Stranger Approaches You. Kasischke also talks some about her friendship with fellow fiction writer Antonya Nelson and reveals a bit about her creative process and approach to writing fiction versus poetry.
October 25, 2019 Randall Freisinger
Randall Freisinger is the author of five collections of poetry, including his 2019 book Windthrow and Salvage. He reads from early work included in his May Swenson Poetry Award-winning Plato's Breath, and talks about the mentorship he's received from two former state poets laureate: the late Bill Kloefkorn of Nebraska and Missouri's William Trowbridge. The professor emeritus of Michigan Tech University shares stories about teaching writing to engineers and scientists, and about co-editing the special baseball issue of New Letters magazine, with the late editor, Jim McKinley.
October 18, 2019 Laura Kasischke
National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Laura Kasischke muses on topics ranging from motherhood to beauty queens, as she reads from several of her books now published under one cover by Copper Canyon, the 2017 book, Where Now: New and Selected Poems. Also an author of novels and short stories, she then sits down onstage at the Kansas City Public Library for a short conversation with host Angela Elam, as a prelude to their upcoming studio conversation, when she reads from her fiction. To find out about her early career, a 2006 program with Laura Kasischke is also available in our audio archives.
October 11, 2019 Xánath Caraza
In the second part of our interview with Xánath Caraza, the multi-award-winning poet reads from her 2016 collection Donde la Luz es Violeta/Where the Light is Violet. While in front of an audience at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, she also shares how water inspires much of her writing, like the prose she reads from her 2018 book Hudson, named for the Hudson River. A 2015 winner of the International Book Award for Poetry for her collection Silabas de Viento/Syllables of Wind, Caraza also reveals more about her creative process and her poetic inspirations.
October 4, 2019 Mia Leonin & 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 International Latino Book Award-winning collection from BkMk Press called Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child.
September 27, 2019 Sergio Troncoso
Sergio Troncoso discusses his journey from the small border town of Ysleta to his education at Harvard and eventually Yale, where he now teaches. His collection Crossing Borders: Personal Essays reveals a bit about his life on the Mexican-American border and how it varies from his current life in New York City, where he works to instill the same sense of hardworking determination in his two sons. Raised Catholic, he also looks at the border between religions, sharing some of the challenges he and his wife, who is Jewish, have faced. Troncoso also reads from his 2011 novel, From This Wicked Patch of Dust, and talks about his 2013 anthology of essays, Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence.
September 20, 2019 Xánath Caraza
Poet Xánath Caraza is a two-time International Latino Book Award-winner in 2018. In part one of this interview on stage at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, she describes her approach to her creative writing, which often begins in Spanish, and talks about her partnership with literary translator, Sandra Kingery. She reads from her award-winning bilingual book, Sin Preambulos/Without Preamble, and shares her poem about Kansas City, where she has lived for two decades. She also talks about her travels, including a pilgrimage to see a jade mask on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, which inspired some of the work in her 2019 collection Balamku. Caraza also shares poetry from her earlier book Ocelocihuatl/Jaguar Woman.
September 13, 2019 Jo McDougall
Named the Poet Laureate of Arkansas in 2018, 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 1987 and 2002 are also available in our Audio Archives.
Kansas City Literary Events
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