Montana Public Radio

The Write Question

Thursdays 7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

The Write Question is a weekly literary program that features authors from the western United States, including James Lee Burke, Maile Meloy, Thomas McGuane, Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley, Jess Walter, Pam Houston, Barry Lopez, and hundreds of others.

Hosted and produced by Sarah Aronson. Executive producer, Michael Marsolek; studio engineer, Beth Anne Austein. The music in some programs was written and performed by John Floridis.

"This Much Country . . . is a story about starting from scratch, stripping away all but necessity and living by animal instincts to find life’s richness. From the first time Kristin hooks up a dog team to the moment she roars across the finish line of the Iditarod, readers witness the chaos of starting over in the din of barking, lunging dogs and the peaceful resolution of 15 dogs moving in unison as the Kristin comes to her own realizations about what it means to be wildly singular."

Kristin is an energetic interviewee, offering insights on how she landed in Alaska, as well as what eventually called her to leave. In this conversation, she also discusses her hardships, good instincts, and of course, the dogs. 

From mountain streams in the west to rolling prairies in the east, Montana’s habitats and natural resources offer an abundance of culinary possibilities. The mountains provide the necessities for a delightful elk tenderloin with huckleberry demi-glace, while the prairie contributes to rattlesnake cakes with roasted red pepper remoulade. And gardens and farms statewide produce the makings of Aunt Lois O’Toole’s rhubarb strawberry pie. Chef Barrie Boulds and author Jean Petersen present locally sourced epicurean dishes that exude Montanan charm.

Gary Ferguson

Drawing on science, psychology, history, and philosophy, The Eight Master Lessons of Nature will leave readers with feelings of hope, excitement, and joy. Here is what nature has to teach us about mystery and loss, the essential power of diversity, how our animal relatives make us smarter, the fine art of rising again after disruptions, and how the planet’s elders make us better at life. 

In this interview, Gary Ferguson and Dr. Mary M Clare offer a unique and refreshing perspective on how nature might guide us through these tumultuous times. 

Mark Gibbons “tells the truth and tells it straight,” according to author Melissa Stephenson. In this interview, Mark delivers this trademark approach to life while reading from his new collection, Mostly Cloudy. Like his poetry, Mark is irreverent and deeply sentimental. Together, we covered the topics of rock 'n' roll, work, love, and death. Though Mark was just down the road in his Missoula, MT home, we spoke via phone to maintain social distance. 

Shonda Buchanan can tell a story like no other. Her writing pulls at the thread of truth with deep compassion, grace, and humor. In this conversation, she shares what it means to be Black Indian both within intimate family relations as well as in the broader cultural and historical contexts. Her work is prescient and her voice is disarming: “This is our country and we have a right to stay. We have a right to be here and we have a right to fight. . . For me, writing is fighting.”

Wave Books

Can poetry fail us? Can it feel too precious in times of great upheaval? Prageeta Sharma interrogates these questions and more in her collection "Grief Sequence," published after the death of her husband. In this interview, we begin by discussing the relationship between poetry and grief, both in regards to her loss as well as the collective uncertainty of COVID. We also grapple with themes of misunderstanding, witness, and beauty in an effort to make sense of the what it means to be human. Prageeta speaks to us from her shelter-in-place residence in Claremont, CA.
 

Ana Maria Spagna

Ana Maria Spagna joined us via phone from a tiny closet in her remote cabin in Stehekin, WA.  Before her life as a successful writer & professor, Spagna worked trail crew for 15 years. In this interview, she discusses the friction between commitment and longing as well as her relationship with modern conventions like the internet and chainsaw. Spagna holds these contradictions with grace and humor, a quality that extends far beyond the words on the page.  "Uplake" was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.

Milkweed

A hearth is many things: a place for solitude, a source of identity, something we make and share with others, a history of ourselves and our homes. It is the fixed center we return to, and it is just as intrinsically portable. It is, in short, the perfect metaphor for what we seek in these complex and contradictory times—set in flux by climate change, economic emergencies, migration, the refugee crisis, and the dislocating effects of technology.

"Popular Music is both a love letter to music—how it accents, affects, and defines us through varying stages of our lives—and a hilarious and heart-breaking investigation of our relationship to technology, nature, and country. This book is in a class of its own and is simply unforgettable." -- Chicago Review of Books

Award-winning author S.M. Hulse writes to the heart of the new American West. In Eden Mine, collapsed industries, disaffected community members, family loyalties and faith collide in a rich tapestry of storytelling. This interview addresses those tensions as well as ableism, art and what it means to adopt a gender neutral pen name. 

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