Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Karl Marlantes and his nearly 35-year quest to tell his Vietnam story

When Karl Marlantes returned from the Vietnam War as a highly decorated Marine Lieutenant, he encountered a group of college students who called him names like "baby killer" while they waved North Vietnamese flags. He was flabbergasted. And not sure what to do. He wanted to tell those students that the soldiers who were fighting the war were just kids like them, trying to grow up, trying to earn a college education. The only way he knew how to do that was to write. So he did -- for more than 30 years.

In the meantime, he had PTSD and didn't know it. Neither did his wife and children. They just thought he had gone crazy.

There's lots more to know about this persistent man and his novel. Tune in tonight at 6:30 ( or 7:30 ( to hear Karl Marlantes talk about his writing marathon, his time in Vietnam, PTSD, and his current opinion of war.

If you can't tune in or missed the program, you can listen online at the MTPR Web site.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Poems: "Commercial for a Summer Night" - by Tony Hoagland

That one night in the middle of summer
when people move their chairs outside
and put their TVs on the porch
so the dark is full of murmuring blue lights.

We were drinking beer with the sound off,
watching the figures on the screen
the bony blondes, the lean-jawed guys
who decorate the perfume and the cars

the pretty ones
the merchandise is wearing this year.

Alex said, I wish they made a shooting gallery
                using people like that.

Greg said, That woman has a Ph.D. in face.
Then we saw a preview for a movie

about a movie star who is
                        having a movie made about her,
and Boz said, This country is getting stupider every year.

Then Greg said that things were better in the sixties
and Rus said that Harold Bloom said
that Nietzsche and Nostalgia
is the blank check issued to a weak mind,

and Greg said,
                They didn't have checks back then, stupid,
and Susan said It's too bad you guys can't get
Spellcheck for your brains.

Then Greg left and Margaret arrived
and a breeze carried honeysuckle fumes across the yard,
and Alex finished his quart of beer
and Boz leaned back in his chair

and the beautiful people on the TV screen
moved back and forth and back,
looking ery much now like shooting-gallery-ducks

and we sat in quiet pleasure on the shore of night,
as a tide came in and turned and carried us,
folding chairs and all,

far out from the coastline of America

in a perfect commercial for our lives.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Tony Hoagland's poems and criticism have appeared in such publications as Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Agni, Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Indiana Review, American Poetry Review, and Harvard Review. "Commercial for a Summer Night" was published in Hoagland's 2003 collection What Narcissism Means to Me, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Alyson Hagy, author of Ghosts of Wyoming

With the stories in her latest story collection, Ghosts of Wyoming, Alyson Hagy illuminates the complex issues of life in the West with characters so real they could live down the street.

William Kittredge calls Hagy a "first-rate storyteller" and had this to say about Ghosts of Wyoming: "Alyson Hagy knows our lingo, our lands and people, our heartbreaks and glories, and our tragedies and sustaining myths, and how each runs through the others. Read and enjoy. Hope for more."

During this week's program, Hagy reads passages from several of the stories in this collection and talks about how the harsh landscape of southwest Wyoming shapes its inhabitants and her writing. She also talks about her first impression of Wyoming and the state's escalating land-use conflict.

You can hear The Write Question Thursday evening at 6:30 (Yellowstone Public Radio) or at 7:30 (Montana Public Radio).

Or listen online.

Find out more about Alyson Hagy and her new book, Ghosts of Wyoming.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Poems: "Like a Wolf" - by Lance Larsen

You had to admire the shapeless genius of his outfit
upside-down garbage bag over purple shorts.
Just a slit for his bald head, holes punched
through for his arms, and a draw string
he could tighten in case of rain.
I made him my pace car, and tried to stay
no more than five or six strides back.

My purpose: not win or place, just finish.
Like the rest of us, he knew that on race day
suffering must brave leg cramps and wind,
angst and winding climbs, and hope
must first be numbered and pinned to your shorts
in his case, #88. I loved the symmetry
of those eights. Twin infinity sign standing

upright, one chasing the other just as I was chasing
him. At mile eleven, when the sun bled
through red rock hills and I tied my warm-ups
at my waist, and real runners flung 
theirs into after-race oblivion, I learned
wisdom. Mr. Hefty tore off his garbage bag,
like the Hulk shredding another Armani suit.

And tossed it high. An updraft caught it,
till it floated above what we were, an undulating
river of huff and wheeze pouring out
of the canyon. Floated—an effigy he ran under,
as if he had escaped himself. Old man nipples
peering out at a new world, he tipped
back his head as if drinking the sky and he howled.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
Lance Larson is author of three collections of poems, including Backyard Alchemy. His work has appeared in New York Review of Books, TLS, Raritan, Paris Review, Southern Review, Poetry Daily, The Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere. He has received a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He lives in Provo, Utah, and serves as Associate Chair of English at Brigham Young University. "Like a Wolf" was published in New Poets of the American West.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Recording the Long Road to Restoration

The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon, by Charles Wilkinson
576 pages, hardcover: $35.
University of Washington Press, 2010.

Review by Chérie Newman - From the March 07, 2011 issue of High Country News

When the U.S. Congress began terminating American Indian tribes during the 1950s -- ending the special relationship between formerly sovereign tribes and the federal government -- many Indians thought they would be better off without the Bureau of Indian Affairs meddling in their lives. They didn't understand the consequences of "termination" until it was too late. "Tribal land was sold off," writes Charles Wilkinson in The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon, "and individual allotments ... passed from Indian hands. Communities broke up and dispersed. Economic and social conditions worsened." The Siletz people and the members of 108 other terminated tribes lost hunting, fishing, gathering and water rights. The search for employment scattered family groups, further decimating language, social and cultural traditions that had somehow survived the long Indian Wars of the 1800s as well as the government assimilation programs of the early 20th century.

Worst of all, as Wilkinson discovered, people from terminated tribes were no longer considered Indian -- by either whites or Indians. "I felt like I lost my identity," Agnes Pilgrim, a Siletz, told Wilkinson. Termination also affected tribal members far from Oregon. "One woman lost her teaching job at Haskell Indian School in Kansas," Wilkinson writes, "because she was no longer a member of a 'recognized' tribe."

Then, in 1966, Robert Bennett, an Oneida Indian from Wisconsin, became BIA commissioner. Things began to change. In the early 1970s, a small group of Siletz re-formed the tribal government and began the formidable legal process of seeking restoration. Although they were opposed by powerful commercial and sport-fishing organizations and legislators who "worried that other terminated tribes might use (the Siletz) as precedent for their own restoration," the Siletz Tribe was eventually restored. "Restoration proved to be only a beginning," however, as Wilkinson observes. The Siletz had to re-establish their "identity and create a governing structure in a new time" -- all of which required cooperation and diligence.

The People Are Dancing Again presents a meticulously researched history of the Siletz people, who had asked Charles Wilkinson to write their story. It's also the story of every terminated tribe that has had to fight to regain its culture, language, land and place in American society.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Robert Wrigley

This week, The Write Question presents Robert Wrigley, winner of six Pushcart Prizes. Wrigley's new collection is titled, Beautiful Country. His previous books include Lives of the Animals, winner of the Poets' Price; Reign of Snakes, which won the Kingsley Tufts Award; and In the Bank of Beautiful Sins, which was awarded the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award.

Robert Wrigley believes that poetry can influence the world and people’s lives rather than just reside within the confines of academia. He holds that “poetry can have a redemptive function. It can look at the chaos you see and make a kind of sense of the smallest part of it.” His poems are concerned with rural Western landscapes and humankind’s place within the natural world, and he aims to “tell all the truth, but make it sing.

You can hear Chérie Newman's conversation with Robert Wrigley Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. ( and 7:30 (

Find out more about Robert Wrigley and listen online at the MTPR Web site.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buzzy Jackson

This week's program features Buzzy Jackson talking about searching for her ancestors: why she did it, where she started, how a DNA sample helped, and why she decided to go on a Caribbean cruise. Her genealogy adventures are chronicled in her new book, Shaking The Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist.

Jackson used her prodigious research skills to trace her roots back more than 250 years. In the process, she connected to distant relatives and discovered the true meaning of family.

During this program, Jackson talks about her long search for her people (Jackson is the 20th most common American surname) and gives some helpful tips hints to beginning genealogists.

  • Start with yourself: Write down everything you already know and can verify about your family history. Interview siblings and other family members.
  • Interview as many living relatives as possible.
  • Ask to see family mementos such as Bibles, photographs, journals, even quilts.
  • Collect relevant records: birth, death, and marriage certificates; military, employment, census, city directory records.
  • Ask for help from librarians, members of historical organizations, other genealogists.
  • DNA tests and visits to locations where your ancestors lived help you dig deeper.
  • Stay organized: be methodical in your research, write everything down, keep notes about what you've done and what's left to do. Invest in a computer program if that helps.
Tune in to hear Buzzy Jackson on The Write Question Thursday evening, July 7, at 6:30 ( or 7:30 (

Find more information about Buzzy Jackson and listen online.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Poems: "4th of July" - by Keetje Kuipers

4th of July

If I have any romantic notions left,
please let me abandon them here
on the dashboard of your Subaru
beside this container of gas station
potato salad and bottle of sunscreen.
Otherwise, my heart is a sugar packet
waiting to be shaken open by some
other man’s hand. Let there be another town
after this one, a town with an improbable Western
name—Wisdom, Last Chance—where we can get
a room and a six-pack, where the fireworks
end early, say nine o’clock, before it’s really
gotten dark enough to see them because
everyone has to work in the morning.
I’m not asking for love anymore.
I don’t care if I never see a sailboat again.

* * * * * * *

Keeje Kuipers is a native of the Northwest. She earned her BA at Swarthmore College and her MFA at the University of Oregon. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Oregon Literary Arts, and Soapstone, as well as awards from Atlanta Review and Nimrod. In 2007, she was the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident, which provided her with seven months of solitude in Oregon's Rogue River Valley where she composed work that has been published in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, The Southeast Review, and Willow Springs, among others. Kuipers teaches writing at the University of Montana and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She divides her time between San Francisco and Missoula where she lives with her dog, Bishop. "4th of July" first appeared in Willow Springs.