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New Letters on the Air: Episodes

Navajo poet Sherwin Bitsui won the 2010 American Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award for his collection called FLOOD SONG. He reads from the book and also discusses his 2003 poetry collection, SHAPE SHIFT, which explores various kinds of border-crossings. Raised on the Fort Defiance Navajo reservation, ...
In this interview recorded at the Kansas City Public Library, Irish author Anne Enright reads from her nonfiction book, MAKING BABIES: STUMBLING INTO MOTHERHOOD, and talks about how having children helped organize her writing life. Enright discusses her often dark but humorous approach to writing about ...
Luis Alberto Urrea is perhaps best known for his nonfiction.  His memoir, NOBODY'S SON: NOTES FROM AN AMERICAN LIFE, won the 1999 American Book Award and his book THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY: A TRUE STORY, about a controversial border-crossing, was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.  But ...
National Poetry Month concludes with the new Missouri Poet Laureate, William Trowbridge, who was named to the post on Friday, April 13th, 2012. That's the perfect date for the author who portrays the fool archetype, leading his character through humiliations and sufferings with his signature humor in ...
For the past 29 years, Rockhurst University has brought poets from around the country to do readings for the Kansas City public as part of the Midwest Poets Series. This year featured three very different poets who live in Missouri, including the state's first poet laureate, Walter Bargen, who is the ...
In March 2011, there was a convergence of State Poets Laureate in Lawrence, Kansas, where current and past holders of the post from states as far-flung as Alaska and Rhode Island gathered to read and talk about their work.  This program features excerpts from the first night's reading that ...
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is one of the most distinguished appointments for an American poet. From the first consultant in 1937, the poets have represented a wide cross-section of talent and geographies. This program features a little history on the role and some ...
Ushering us from Women's History to National Poetry Month is former U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, KAY RYAN.  She talks with NEW LETTERS magazine editor, Robert Stewart, who gave her a poet's "debriefing" of her experience as United States Poet Laureate from 2008-2010.  Ryan ...
Women's History Month continues with one of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez. The author of more than 20 books of poetry, prose, and drama, Sanchez was named Philadelphia's first poet laureate in December 2011. In this interview, she discusses her 2010 books, a collection ...
In honor of Women's History Month, we present a special anthology that examines how various women writers create art that encourages community and connections across boundaries. Novelist Lisa See shares stories about Chinese women who practiced secret writing in SNOWFLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN; former ...
Women's History Month continues with Debra Brenegan, whose debut novel, SHAME THE DEVIL, explores the fascinating true story of Sara Payson Willis, a novelist, journalist, and feminist who wrote under the pseudonym "Fanny Fern" during the 1800s. She describes Fern as a 19th century Oprah, who boasted ...
For Women's History Month, poet Jeanne Marie Beaumont talks about her passion for collecting and how her work pays tribute to some of her poetic foremothers.  Her three collections of poetry include CURIOUS CONDUCT, PLACEBO EFFECTS, and BURNING OF THE THREE FIRES, all assemblages of everyday ...
Poet, literary critic, and scholar Evie Shockley reads from her two poetry collections, A HALF-RED SEA and THE NEW BLACK, and talks about how poetic form can bring new meaning to a poem's subject matter. She discusses how her work pays homage to her literary mentors, yet challenges common notions about ...
Poet Terrance Hayes reads from his 2010 collection, LIGHTHEAD, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hayes discusses some of the themes in his work, including light, shadow, and race. He also reads from his third book, WIND IN A BOX, and talks ...
Author Heidi Durrow, much like the heroine in her book-club favorite novel THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, grew up in a biracial household.  She talks about the odd dichotomy of being both African-American and Danish, and the impact of her mixed heritage. Durrow also discusses the long road ...
The poet James Richardson has called himself an "accidental aphorist," but his well-crafted works are no accident. He has received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His 2004 book, INTERGLACIAL: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS AND APHORISMS, was a National ...
After recovering from a nearly fatal accident, all Peggy Shumaker wanted to do was read. The poet, and Alaska's State Writer Laureate from 2010-2012, eventually began to write again as well, and while she didn't intend to write a memoir, that's what her collection of vignettes, called JUST BREATHE NORMALLY, ...
The Symphony is a poetry collective comprised of John Murillo, Dwayne Betts, Randall Horton, and Marcus Jackson. They first met at Cave Canem, the black writers' symposium, and discovered they all had a shared love of the late African-American poet Etheridge Knight. The four bonded, kept in touch, and ...
Fiction writer and Vanderbilt University professor Lorraine Lopez was shocked in 2010, when her book of short fiction, HOMICIDE SURVIVORS PICNIC AND OTHER STORIES, became a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Published by a small press, the book was up against the work of Sherman Alexie, Barbara Kingsolver, ...
A SUNDAY IN GOD-YEARS takes its title from the notion that inside the long stretch of geologic time, human history happens in the blink of God's eye as he rolls over during a Sunday nap. Michelle Boisseau traced some of her own family history back to a Virginia plantation for her fourth collection that ...
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