Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hand Raised: The Barns of Montana

Explore the hayloft, stalls, and hardware of a Montana barn and you will learn much about the state’s farm and ranch traditions. Crib barns, with walls of timber stacked like Lincoln logs, show the influence of French-Canadian and Scandinavian immigrants. Gambrel-roofed barns, which shed heavy snowfall and provide roomy haylofts, tell of the long Montana winters that necessitated ample hay storage. Tack rooms, once filled with harnesses and gear, tell of workhorses given shelter in heavy-duty stalls nearby.

Beyond their utilitarian functions, barns are simply beautiful. Some stand proudly, their freshly painted red lines contrasting sharply with the golden wheat in surrounding fields. But some, less fortunate, are falling into disrepair. Marked by rotting timbers and broken windowpanes, these crumbling buildings still have much to teach us. Historic Barns of Montana presents the best, most unique, most significant, and most beautiful of these barns. Photographer Tom Ferris explored barns inside and out across Montana, snapping the hundreds of photographs in the book. Authors and architectural historians Chere Jiusto and Christine Brown help readers understand the significance of what they are looking at and tell the stories of individual barns.

Hand Raised: The Barns of Montana recognizes these buildings as both useful and beautiful, encourages their preservation, and honors the ranch and farm families that built them.

Find out more about the book, the authors, and the photographer, and listen to the program, on the radio or online.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Poems: "The City's Oldest Known Survivor of the Great War" -- by James Doyle

marches in uniform down the traffic stripe
at the center of the street, counts time
to the unseen web that has rearranged
the air around him, his left hand
stiff as a leather strap along his side,
the other saluting right through the decades
as if they weren't there, as if everyone under ninety
were pervasive fog the morning would dispel
in its own good time, as if the high school band
all flapping thighs and cuffs behind him
were as ghostly as the tumbleweed on every road
dead-ended in the present, all the ancient infantry
shoulder right, through a skein of bone, presenting arms
across the drift, nothing but empty graves now
to round off another century,
the sweet honey of the old cadence, the streets
going by at attention, the banners glistening with dew,
the wives and children blowing kisses.

*     *     *     *     *

James Doyle is the author of five poetry collections, including Einstein Considers a Sanddune (2004), which won the 2003 Steel Toe Books Poetry Prize. His latest book is Bending Under the Yellow Police Tapes (2007). He lives in Fort Collins, CO.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Poems: "Counting Towards Sleep" -- by Nance Van Winckel

From my four corners the grey cranes appear
   and, as if wingless, march off like old
   soldiers, their rifle-beaks bobbing up the walls
   high into the blue shadows of sleep.

I add up the simple sadnesses of their leaving.
   Beneath each of us the earth's deep fires
   breathe in, then burn brighter with every sudden
   rift, ever little addition fo gritty fuel.

And now I sink down upon it all: the fallen birds,
   our warm pallet of earth. And soon the stream
    lies down through me. Rattling and spewing, it sends
   rocks tumbling. Wild lilies break loose, travel.

There is too much everywhere
   not to observe.
Far into morning, sheep
   on every finger--Dorsetts
   and Corriedales--my hand
   is a meadow.

*     *     *     *     *

Nance Van Winckel has published five books of poetry, including After a Spell (1998), which received the Washington State Governor's Award for Poetry, and her most recent work, No Starling (2007). She has also published three short story collections.

Van Winckel has received two National Endowments for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize and The Midland Authors Award. She has served as the Poet in Residence at the University of Montana and the University of North DAkota. She currently teaches in the MFA in writing programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Spokane, WA.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Poems: "In Perpetual Spring" -- by Amy Gerstler

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies
and trip over the roots
of a sweet gum tree,
in search of medieval
plants whose leaves,
when they drop off
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal
human desire for peace
with every other species
wells up in you. The lion
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,
queen of the weeds, revives
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt
there is a leaf to cure it.

* * * * *

Amy Gerstler has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the best poets in the nation." She has published multiple books of poetry and her collection Dearest Creature (2009) was named a New York Times notable book of the year. The above poem is found in her collection Bitter Angel (1990). 

Gerstler lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars program and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barry Lopez

Why do we need storytellers? is this week's question. And who is better qualified to answer that particular question than Barry Lopez?

For 40 years Lopez has traveled the world, seeking out storytellers in nearly 70 countries and writing about his experiences for publications such as National Geographic, Outside, The Georgia Review, and The Paris Review, and publishing award-winning books such as Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men. His most recent book is Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a reader's dictionary of regional landscape terms, which he edited with Debra Gwartney.

During this week's program, Lopez talks about the roles and responsibilities of storytellers, and the "spiritual interior" of words. He also has some advice for readers.

Find out more about Barry Lopez and listen to the program, on the radio or online.