Radio Readers Book Club

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  HPPR Radio Readers Book Club is an on-air, on-line community of readers exploring themes of common interest to those who live and work on the High Plains. 

 

The 2017 Spring Read's theme is Water and Replenishment.  You'll find the thoughts and ideas about books from Radio Readers through a series of BookBytes posted below.  Of you'd like to contribute a BookByte yourself, simply contact Kathleen Holt at kholt@hppr.org for more information.

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Objects from the Borderlands

Aug 31, 2016
SUSAN HARGAGE PAGE, North Carolina / iah.unc.edu

In 2007 I began making yearly trips/pilgrimages to walk the border and photograph objects left behind by undocumented migrants crossing the U.S–Mexico border between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. My work takes an ever-evolving imagined space and concretizes it as a collection of specific objects, first as they are found and photographed in the landscape, then as they are re-photographed and archived, and, finally, as they are united in exhibitions.

Faith, Family and Endurance in the Face of Danger

Aug 29, 2016
SUSAN HARBAGE PAGE

In 2013 there were over 3 million Central American immigrants living in the U.S. Each year hundreds of immigrants die while attempting to cross the southern U.S. border. From 2014 to July, 31 2015 alone, 72,968 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico.  “Each year the Obama administration has seen more deportations than any preceding president”[1].

Their Stories Are Ours

Aug 24, 2016
Unknown

If you like watching Andy Griffith reruns, you might enjoy living in a small town in the listening area of High Plains Public Radio. Those of us who call these little burgs home enjoy a quality of life that is generally slow-paced, friendly, and satisfying on many levels. Life wasn’t always so idyllic.

Library of Congress

The Great Plains is its own eco-niche with distinctive plants, mammals, birds, weather, and history that constantly evolve. Its human population is as dynamic as these other unique factors. Those of us whose families have lived here for generations understand the world Willa Cather describes in My Antonia. Our families lived her stories. When we read them, we wonder how we got where we are today.

Jonathan Baker

I’m Jonathan Baker, a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk about Willa Cather’s My Antonia.

I have an addiction. I take photos constantly with my phone. Sometimes in West Texas, during a particularly epic sunset, I’ll instinctively start driving west, away from town, out where there are no buildings. Where the good views are.

Later, when I go back and look at my images, I often find I have no nostalgia for the day I snapped the photo of a particular sky. Because I was looking at my phone the whole time.

Who Cares about What Happens in Nebraska? We Do.

Aug 17, 2016
Kansas Memory, Kansas Historical Society

To write about life on the plains might not seem like much of a risk today, but, at the turn of the last century, Willa Cather knew what she was up against when she made immigrant farmers – people she knew as a child growing up in Nebraska—her central characters.

Kansas Memory, Kansas Historical Society

HPPR listeners thinking about the theme of this year’s book club--Borders and Becoming--need to keep in mind that borders change to meet the needs of those who live within them. Over the last two and a half centuries, the parameters of the United States changed repeatedly. A modern day description of the contiguous states would include Folksinger Woody Guthrie’s first stanza of “This Land Is Your Land.”

Lyrical Postcards in Willa Cather’s My Antonia

Aug 12, 2016

The essence of poetry is song, or lyrical feeling. How well Willa Cather understood the lyrical beauty of the Great Plains. She delights readers of My Antonia with poetic passages, like Jim Burden’s first look at Nebraska: “There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.”

We Are All Immigrants

Aug 10, 2016
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

When I learned that our Radio Readers Fall Read would be themed “Stories: Borders and Becoming,” I began to think about what that might mean, exactly. We all have family stories of our beginnings and becoming in this country.  Whether we’re descendants of German  immigrants, Irish immigrants, Mexican immigrants, Asian immigrants, we all “just came here” at one time or another.  We have that story of becoming in common.

Why Read My Antonia?

Aug 8, 2016
ndsu.edu

HPPR listeners thinking about the theme of this year’s book club--Borders and Becoming--need to keep in mind that borders change to meet the needs of those who live within them. Over the last two and a half centuries, the parameters of the United States changed repeatedly. A modern day description of the contiguous states would include Folksinger Woody Guthrie’s first stanza of “This Land Is Your Land.”

Crossing Borders

Aug 5, 2016
Paul Phillips

Few of us have experienced the immigration process, but for we who have traveled, the border crossing experience is traumatic, going from the comfortable to the unknown. 

Radio Readers 2016 Fall Read

Aug 5, 2016

Join us for the HPPR Radio Readers Fall Read Stories: Borders and Becoming.  The books include Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Sonya Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey, and Dave Egger’s What is the What.  To let us know what you’re thinking about our diverse ethnic culture here on the High Plains, join the discussion on the HPPR Radio Readers  Facebook page or listen to the BookByte Features aired Monday, Wednesday and Friday  during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Ancient Seas to Borders

Aug 3, 2016
J.W. Buell (1889)

High Plains Public Radio will soon begin its Fall Radio Readers Book Club.  The theme this time is Borders and Becoming.  Here’s a brief appreciation of the unique land mass found in books which embrace our “wide-openness.”

Book Selections - Stories: Borders & Becoming

Aug 1, 2016

Plenty of memes and essays tell Facebookers, tweeters, and readers to live in the moment. In general, it’s good advice for a satisfying and contented life. However, learning about and understanding the stories of a certain place and people who lived and are living in that geographic locale add depth to our existence.

Deb Oyler

The Radio Readers Book Club Spring Read concluded with a live two hour event on Sunday, May 1, 2016.  The panel discussed Kent Haruf's Plainsong, S.C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon, and Gail Caldwell's A Strong West Wind.  

The panel was:  Jane Holwerda from Dodge City, Kansas; Alex Hunt, Jonathan Baker, and Michael Grauer from Canyon, Texas; former Kansas Poet Laureate Denise Low, and Lynne Hewes from Cimarron, Kansas.  

Philipp Meyer: Getting to know the man

May 2, 2016
quotesgram.com

Philipp Meyer recently spoke at West TExas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.  Cindee Talley had the opportunity to talk with him on the phone, and get to know the man a little bit better.

The 2016 Spring Read Comes to an End

Apr 24, 2016
Kathleen Holt

Hello, Radio Readers!

You know, when friends at HPPR talked about developing a book series based on a novel about eastern Colorado, a social  history of the Comanche, and a memoir about growing up in the ‘60’s and 70’s in Amarillo, I was , well, intrigued…But, wow! Now that we’re about to conclude our series – A High Plains Sense of Place—I just don’t want it to end…

Author Philipp Meyer on Pioneer Myths

Apr 21, 2016
Library of Congress

The following is a transcript of the conversation between Dr. Alex Hunt and Philipp Meyer:

AH – For Radio Readers Book Club, I’m Alex Hunt, Professor of English at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.  Today, I’m speaking with novelist Phillip Meyer.  Your most recent novel, The Son, has been called a Texas epic.  What moved you to write a novel so engaged with Texas history and identity?

Talking with Philipp Meyer

Apr 20, 2016
Alex Hunt

AH – For Radio Readers Book Club, I’m Alex Hunt, Professor of English at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.  Today, I’m speaking with novelist Philipp Meyer. In The Son, an important part of the novel occurs on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle and clearly draws on some legendary types – the cattleman Charles Goodnight and the Comanche leader Quanah Parker. Can you talk about your decision to write about this place and these figures?

The Beats: Many have Kansas roots

Apr 10, 2016
George Laughead, Jr.

I grew up in Dodge City. My father grew up here and my grandfather was on the first city commission, so I have deep roots.  Part of living in southwest Kansas was that we had dozens of buses and trains going to all sorts of places back when I was a kid.  Thus we had a paperback bookstore very early and it had a lot of books.

In that bookstore, I found a book called The Beats edited by Seymour Krim. It had come out in 1960.  In 1963, I stole a copy of it. Because I was 13, the owner wouldn’t sell me one. 

Caldwell's story is my story

Apr 7, 2016
Cindee Talley

I’m a Radio Reader from Canyon, Texas. This spring the HPPR Radio Reader’s Book Club is exploring the theme – a sense of place.  In Gail Caldwell’s A Strong West Wind, every page took me home. 

Caldwell and I share a birth year and many thoughts.  Beginning with the prologue, I felt as though I was reading my own story. Caldwell was growing up in Amarillo at the same time I grew up in Muleshoe, but her experiences reflect my own as a product of the Texas plains. Her words bring back my own wonder and angst while growing up in an era of conservatism, patriotism, and faith rapidly evolving into a world of unrest, feminism, and new freedoms. 

Caldwell’s memory of her grandmother’s house, as she words it, a “rambling old white house” with its rooms “bearing whispers of the past,” took me back to my grandfather’s farm and the little stucco house that formed a cocoon of love around a very large family. I relived through her words, a time of weekends spend hanging around the local drive-in burger joint and rulers measuring hemlines in school. As she recalls cars pulling aside to stop for her father’s funeral procession, I remembered a lone farmer in the middle of his fresh plowed field standing respectfully beside his tractor, hat in hand, as we made the trip from Dimmitt to Muleshoe behind the hearse that bore my brother’s body.  Home is depicted in every chapter.  Wide open spaces of flat land and strength sapping wind that bent trees and people to its will.

Native Americans Speak of Vietnam

Apr 5, 2016
Colorado Public Radio

I’m a former Kansas poet laureate and fifth generation Kansan. I am proud of my Lenape (Delaware) heritage. Vietnam was a tragic time for the large number of Indigenous Americans and their families. They followed traditions of protecting their beloved land and families. Some had ceremonies for returning warriors. Geary Hobson, Linda Grover, Karenne Wood, and Jim Northrup express the Vietnam experience in poetry:

 

Central Highlands, Viet Nam, 1968 by Geary Hobson—Cherokee, Quapaw, and Chickasaw

1

An eagle glides above the plain

The 60s, Conservatives, and Vietnam

Apr 3, 2016
Kathleen Holt

Some have compared what seems to be a political and social revolution pitting conservatives and progressives today to a parallel, although profoundly different period of change outlined in the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club’s 2016 Spring Read’s book A Strong West Wind by author Gail Caldwell who grew up in the Texas Panhandle in the 1950s and 60s.  

Is there a High Plains Sense of Place?

Mar 31, 2016
Cindee Talley

Hello, Radio Readers! You know, when HPPR wanted to explore a High Plains sense of place, I was a little skeptical. That our terrain and lives are different from, say the East and West coasts, seems fairly obvious, but are the High Plains all that different from the Midwest? The Southwest? I wondered what ideas about life on the High Plains a novel about eastern Colorado, a social  history of the Comanche, and a memoir about growing up in the ‘60’s and 70’s in Amarillo and Austin could share.

Amarillo and Strong West Winds

Mar 29, 2016
DeGolyer Library SMU

I’m curator of art and western heritage at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas.  I’ve been asked to comment on this month’s High Plains Public Radio’s Radio Reader A Strong West Wind by Gayle Caldwell.  I’ve lived out here for going on 29 years.   I grew up in Kansas and the title appealed to me initially because of the reference to wind.  I’m out west of Canyon, a little bit north and west of Canyon.  Canyon sits about 18 miles south of Amarillo.

Texas makes you tough

Mar 27, 2016
Cindee Talley

I’ve been thinking a lot about the influence of “place” on who we become and whether or not that influence ever wanes.  

In A Strong West Wind, an account of a Texas high plains girlhood, Gail Caldwell writes, “How do we become who we are? The question belongs not just to genes or geography or the idea of destiny, but to the entire symphony of culture and its magisterial march—to Proust’s madeleines and Citizen Kane’s “Rosebud” and anyone’s dreams of being someplace, anyplace, else. I was a girl whose father had taken such pride in her all her life, even when it was masked as rage, that he had lit a fire in me that would stay warm forever. I was the daughter of a woman who, on a farm in east Texas in the 1920s, had crept away from her five younger siblings so that she could sit on a hillside and read—a mother whose subterranean wish, long unrevealed, was that I might become who she could not. Each of us has these cloisters where the old discarded drams are stored, innocuous as toys in the attic. The real beauty of the question—how do we become who we are?—is that by the time we are old enough to ask it, to understand its infinite breadth, it is too late to do much about it. That is not the sorrow of hindsight, but its music: That is what grants us a bearable past.” 

Ridin' the Plains

Mar 24, 2016

In A Strong West Wind, an account of a Texas high plains girlhood, author Gail Caldwell evokes a sense of place through many descriptive passages, often involving her father. She writes, for example, “When I was a girl of nine or ten, my dad would take me along on autumn dawns to go quail and dove hunting, out to the far reaches of the Caprock, past towns named Muleshoe and Dimmitt to prairies so remote and unrelenting that even the phone lines seemed to disappear as we drove into morning light.

Cindee Talley

I’m a High Plains Public Radio Book Club reader from Northwest Kansas. It’s time to think about our third novel of this season, A Strong West Wind by native West Texan Gail Caldwell. The question that comes to mind is how does this memoir enhance our understanding of place? As one would expect, it’s different from Plainsong and Summer of the Comanche Moon. Based on reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble, it’s a book readers either love or hate. With such strong responses in mind, it’s important to focus on insights this author’s memories offer this unique book club’s membership.

Jonathan Baker

I’m a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk a little about this month’s Radio Readers Book Club Read, A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell. Gail’s story is a familiar one to me. In fact, my story mirrors hers in many ways. Both Gail and I grew up feeling isolated on the High Plains, and escaped into books. We both left the Panhandle for Austin, where we both rebelled, discovered politics, and sowed our wild oats.

Last Buffalo Hunt

Mar 17, 2016
en.wikipedia.org

Hello, Radio Readers! We’re reading and discussing a High Plains sense of place with Sam Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, a social history, as Gwynne writes, of “the rise and fall of the Comanche. “ After thirty-some years, the Comanche capitulated to the US, surrendering horses and weapons in exchange for life on a reservation. There, Gwynne writes, “everything that defined Comanche existence” was exchanged for “crude squalor….hunger and desperation and dependency” – benefits promised to the Comanche turned out to be insufficient, paltry, and shoddy. Gwynne suggests that those who adopted and adapted to white ways did so to survive, even as they tried to preserve their culture, however vestigially.

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