Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Poems: "A Childhood Diary" - by Bonnie Buckley Maldonado

1941 - 1942

I formed words
in careful script
in my new leather diary:

Mama's baby died.
We had to leave the ranch.
Army worms ate the garden.

Daddy has to work in the oilfield.
President Roosevelt was
on the radio.
No valentines to give;
there is a war.

Mama and I cleaned
the teacherage,
one room with a milk can
of water for the new teacher.
School starts March 17 and
ends before Christmas
when the roads get bad.
It used to be the Buckley School,
now it is the Oilfield School.

I help Daddy count
ration stamps
for the gasoline he sells.

We listen to chimes
on the radio for the New Year.
They are in New York.

Everyone waits
for the war to end.
Its name is World War II.

* * * * *

Bonnie was born into the ranching lives of her pioneer grandparents and parents in Northern Montana. Married as a teen, she later completed two college degrees as a single mother - working as a waitress, a ranch cook, and chauffeur - before spending thirty years as a college teacher and administrator.

"A Childhood Diary" was published in her 2006 collection, From the Marias River to the North Pole.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jenni Fallein's new poetry collection

Although you can't see it on the front of the book (hear that story during tonight's program), the title of Jenni Fallein's first collection of poems is If Beauty Were a Spy.

Here are some comments about the collection:

"Just a few poems into If Beauty Were a Spy, I was thinking, how is Jenni Fallein doing this? The poems seem to thoroughly engaged in their compassion yet so necessarily detached in their irony, even when they're literally looking inside a mother's heart. I don't think anyone could be taught to write poems like these, the way they're profound, funny, informed, raw, elegant, compassionate, sardonic, and/or spiritual--all at once: The afterlife thing hides like a big dust bunny under the bed. Pedometers taunt, tempt and deceive like lovers. Reality TV meets the bedsores and sponge baths of terminal care for dying mothers. The body stripped of its skin and innards is 'all muscle and bone/exquisite.' The same goes for these poems. They're wonderful."

-- Greg Keeler, poet, professor, and author of Trash Fish: A Life

"Reading Jenni Fallein is like talking to a friend, a friend who is funny and irreverent, with a fondness for puns, and who has also taken as her calling a vocation of care. The hear of this book is about caretaking: of people and of plants, i.e. the garden, acts of hospice and hospitality and humility toward the world both global and immediate. She is not sentimental. She is not afraid of pain. Plain-spoken, sarcastic, but capable of exaltation, she celebrates 'the crazy chance to walk around in a body' at the same time as she is gutsy enough to title a poem 'I Hate Death.'

-- poet Melissa Kwasny, author of Reading Novalis in Montana

"Fallein consistently reaches a very fine pitch in her work. Consider the closing stanza of her title poem, "If Beauty Were a Spy" ... In this fancy, the female spy 'working for the CIA' is likened to pink morning glory at dawn, winding around and above any surfaces 'her fingers' meet. Fallein rises with her conceit:

in her final glory
days before the Equinox
she infiltrates
the bamboo chimes
event he wind

"I am left nearly breathless at her poise and control--a pitch she reaches in many moments in If Beauty Were a Spy."

-- O. Alan Weltzien,  poet, professor, and author of A Father and an Island: Reflections on Loss

Hear Chérie Newman's interview with Jenni Fallein Thursday evening at 6:30 ( or 7:30 ( Or listen by subscribing to The Write Question podcast.

More information about Jenni Fallein and If Beauty Were a Spy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bloodshed at Little Bighorn, by Tim Lehman

History buffs take note: Last spring, The Johns Hopkins University Press published Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations, by Tim Lehman, as part of their Witness to History series. Here's how they describe the book:

"Commonly known as Custer's Last Stand, the Battle of Little Bighorn may be the best recognized violent conflict between the indigenous peoples of North America and the government of the United States. Incorporating the voices of Native Americans, soldiers, scouts, and women, Tim Lehman's concise, compelling narrative will forever change the way we think about this familiar event in American history.

"On June 25, 1876, General George Armstrong Custer led the United States Army's Seventh Cavalry in an attack on a massive encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on the bank of the Little Bighorn River. What was supposed to be a large-scale military operation to force U.S. sovereignty over the tribes instead turned into a quick, brutal rout of the attackers when Custer's troops fell upon the Indians ahead of the main infantry force. By the end of the fight, the Sioux and Cheyenne had killed Custer and 210 of his men. The victory fueled hopes of freedom and encouraged further resistance among the Native Americans. For the U.S. military, the lost battle prompted a series of vicious retaliatory strikes that ultimately forced the Sioux and Cheyenne into submission and the long nightmare of reservation life.

"This briskly paced, vivid account puts the battle's details and characters into a rich historical context. Grounded in the most recent research, attentive to Native American perspectives, and featuring a colorful cast of characters, Bloodshed at Little Bighorn elucidates the key lessons of the conflict and draws out the less visible ones. This may not be the last book you read on Little Bighorn, but it should be the first."

Tim Lehman is a professor of history at Rocky Mountain College and the author of Public Values, Private Lands: Federal Farmland Protection Policy, 1933–1985.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Poems: "Toward Dawn" - James Welch

Today I search for a name.
Not too long, they said,
nor short. A deer crashes
in the wood. A skunk
swaggers to the distant creek.
There is a moment, I think, when the eyes speak
and speak of a world too much.
Such a moment, a life.

* * * *

James Welch (1940 - 2003) was born in Browning, Montana, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe. His publications include five novels, three collections of poetry, and one book of nonfiction. "Toward Dawn" is from Riding the Earthboy 40.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jeremy N. Smith, author of Growing a Garden City

Does the Guinness World Records offer a prize for longest title? Is so, Jeremy N. Smith's new book about the Garden City Harvest project in Missoula, Montana, should have a easy win. Growing a Garden City: How Farmers, First Graders, Counselors, Troubled Teens, Foodies, a Homeless Shelter Chef, Single Mothers, and More Are Transforming Themselves and Their Neighborhoods Through the Intersection of Local Agriculture and Community--and How You Can, Too.

Title prize, or no, Smith's collection of personal stories, interspersed with gorgeous color photographs by Chad Harder and Sepp Jannotta, tells the remarkable, true story of a city learning to feed itself.

In his forward to the book, Bill McKibben writes: "As you read this book, you'll start to see that change has come not just because it's needed, but because we've finally begun to understand that there's something in us that needs to nurture and provide ... Hooray for the good green thumbs of the Garden City. May their example continue to spread far and wide. We've never needed it more badly, or wanted it as much!"

Hear Chérie Newman's interview with Jeremy Smith Thursday evening at 6:30 ( or 7:30 ( Or listen by subscribing to The Write Question podcast.

More information about Jeremy N. Smith and Growing a Garden City.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Poems: "Forgiveness" - Katrina Roberts

How does water do it? Always smoothing back over
after ruffled landings, explosion of drops in its face

wears for mere moments before recomposing itself
when what burns in me burns in me ... longer

than I care to admit. I shelter the grudge, build
a rustic cabin for it in my chest, pound rusty nails

in to anchor a porch where I sit glaring for hours
usually wishing I could simply take a shower

and rejoin my husband for drinks up at the civilized
house. God, what's with me? My children's eyes

search my face for signs of what they've done
wrong and I want to hold them, crying: Nothing,

you've done nothing but everything right.
I can't even remember what kindled our fight.

* * * *
Katrina Roberts, a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is a Paul Garrett Fellow and the Mina Schwabacher Associate Professor of English & the Humanities at Whitman College, where she directs the Visiting Writers Reading Series. "Forgiveness" is from her third collection, Friendly Fire, published in 2008 by Lost Horse Press.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Faith Hickman Brynie, author of BRAIN SENSE

Faith Hickman Brynie has written 25 science and health books for  children, teens, and adults. Her latest book, Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World Around Us, is full of engaging interviews, fascinating stories, and a highly accessible presentation of hard science. Brynie also picks apart a few of our outdated ideas and mistaken assumptions.

When she was still a student, this quote from neuroscientist Richard Restak changed Brynie's life: "The human brain is the only organ in the known universe that seeks to understand itself." (Think about that for a while!)

Find out more about Faith Hickman Brynie.

Tune in to Montana Public Radio Thursday, February 10, at 6:30 ( or 7:30 p.m. ( to hear Faith Hickman Brynie on The Write Question, or listen online from

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The Write Question is funded by Humanities Montana, Montana's Cultural Trust, and by public radio listeners.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's autobiography is a finalist

Hiroshima In The Morning has been named as a finalist for best autobiography of 2010 by the National Book Critics Circle. Other finalists include Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch-22.

Read more about Hiroshima In The Morning and watch video.