September 21, 2018 Sandra Cisneros
The recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Arts Award from President Obama, Latina author Sandra Cisneros discusses her groundbreaking 1984 debut novel, The House on Mango Street, which is now required reading in many schools. The founder of the Macondo Foundation to foster creativity among socially-engaged writers, Cisneros talks about her own growth as a writer of fiction, essays and poetry, and reads from this early work as well as from her more recent novel, Caramelo, and her poetry collection, Loose Woman.
September 14, 2018 Martín Espada
In the second part of this public presentation by Martín Espada for Park University's 2013 Ethnic Voices Poetry Series at the Kansas City Public Library, the former tenant lawyer talks about how he was able to transfer his advocacy from the justice system to poetry, giving voice to those who are otherwise silenced. After a fresh reading of the title poem from Alabanza: New and Selected Poems (that varies quite a bit from his 2005 New Letters on the Air recording), he discusses this post 9/11 poem as well as the elegiac tendencies in his collection The Trouble Ball, which won three poetry awards in 2012. He also shares poems about the human rights struggle of our time--immigration. The first half of this presentation, which features the rest of Martín Espada's poetry reading, can be found in our Audio Archives.
September 7, 2018 Diane Williams
Coming of age in the 1960s, Diane Williams began her creative life in ballet and modern dance, until she fell in love with the literary world. She struggled to be taken seriously as a writer and editor in the male dominated era. Now, the three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize for Fiction is the author of eight books, and the editor of the acclaimed literary journal Noon, in which she has mentored numerous experimental writers. At this reading from her book of short fiction from McSweeney's entitled, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, she discusses her craft and approach to language. A 2008 interview with Diane Williams is also available in our Audio Archives.
August 31, 2018 Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart, the St. Louis born writer and editor of New Letters magazine, has written several books of poetry and essays. Winner of the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence and a National Magazine Award for Editorial Excellence, Stewart talks about his creative process and discusses how his blue collar past has inspired his writing, from his 1988 book Plumbers (reissued in 2017) to his 2018 collection of poetry, Working Class. He also reads from his 2014 essay book, The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values. Earlier interviews with Robert Stewart from 1983 and 2005 are also available in our audio archives.
August 24, 2018 Robin Robertson
While working as a literary editor in London, Robin Robertson found himself losing the language of his native Scotland, so he has incorporated it into his poetry, including his book Swithering, which won the prestigious Forward Poetry Prize for best book. Now selections from that and his other four collections are gathered under one cover in the U.S. in a book called Sailing the Forest. In part two of his 2015 interview with New Letters editor, Robert Stewart, he talks about the influence of his childhood as the son of a Church of Scotland minister in tough Aberdeen on the North Sea, and reads more poetry, including "At Roane Head," winner of another Forward Poetry Prize for Best Single Poem. The first part of this interview is available in our Audio Archives. Read more of this interview in New Letters magazine, Vol. 82, Nos. 3 & 4.
August 17, 2018 Native American Poets Visit the Middle East
This audio anthology features readings by six poets, including a few who are part of the book co-edited by Cherokee writers Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez called The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East. Kim Shuck, Bojan Louis, LeAnne Howe, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, and Allison Hedge Coke read poetry that intertwines stories about the history, culture, and landscape of the Middle East with their experiences. They were recorded at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Los Angeles. We'll also hear the co-editors, along with BkMk Press editor, Ben Furnish, talk about this project supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the web at www.arts.gov. A second program featuring more from the editors of this collection can be found in our Audio Archives.
August 10, 2018 Larry Watson
While at the Woodneath Library Center, novelist Larry Watson reads from his tenth book, As Good As Gone. Though he grew up in North Dakota and taught for years at Marquette University in Wisconsin, Watson has based much of his fiction in Montana and admits there are many similarities between his home state and the settings for his books. He reveals how cowboy movies from the early 1960s as well as his own family history have helped to shape his writing aesthetic. Watson also discusses his writing life and his approach to theme, characters, and inspiration.
August 3, 2018 Dave Smith
Poet Dave Smith grew up in Virginia’s tidewater region along the coast, so it’s no surprise that his many books of poetry and essays are abundant in inspiration from the outdoor life in that area. Smith, who has been described as a poet of place, discusses how landscape and the rituals of hunting figure into his work, and how writing poetry is an act of recovery. He reads from his 2011 poetry book Hawks on Wires and discusses his essays included in New Letters magazine and in his 2006 collection, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry. Earlier programs from 1981 and 1988, as well as another program produced from this interview with Dave Smith, are available in our Audio Archives.
July 27, 2018 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.
July 20, 2018 Philip Lee Williams
In the second half of this interview with Philip Lee Williams, winner of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association, he discusses his most recent works of poetry, The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram and The Color of All Things: 99 Love Poems, winner of the Adrian Bond Award for Poetry at Mercer University Press. He describes his early childhood in upstate South Carolina, wandering the valley once traveled by Bartram that housed a British colonial fort before being flooded in creation of Lake Keowee, and talks about the influence of Bartram's work on others. Williams reads poetry from these books while we play some music he composed for The Flower Seeker. The first half of this interview is available in our archives.
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 Nebraska's Creighton University, she reads from her third collection, Quiet City, honored in the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards. Now living in Iowa City and teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, she looks back at 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.
Kansas City Literary Events