HPPR Arts, Culture & History

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Arts:
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Valentine Memories

7 hours ago
alittleclaireification.com

It’s hard to ignore Valentine promotions. Big box stores dedicate aisles to red and pink candies, stuffed animals, balloons, tableware, and other items most of us don’t need. Flower shops depend on profits generated by lovers sending bouquets to their sweethearts. Card stores tempt us to send our partners expensive cards declaring true love. It’s the February assault on our winter-dulled senses, and we’re all gullible—me included. I love getting posies from my husband.

Despite my adult vulnerability to this over-promoted holiday, kids really know how to celebrate it best. They spend considerable time using construction paper, crayons, and glue to craft personal mailboxes for their friends to fill with corny cards signed in childish scrawl, which are then folded, and tucked into thin envelopes that would never make it through the U.S. mail.

Kathleen Holt

I’m Cindee Talley.  Today, I’d like you to meet two of my Radio Reader Book Club Friends.. Kathi Holt and teacher, Lynn Hewes.  They’re sitting around the table at the historic Cimarron Hotel, talking about our current read… Plainsong.    

Their chat is a perfect example of the paying attention.. whether it be to our children, or our surroundings.  These two lovely women are so engrossed in their conversation, they had no idea they had captured the sound of a semi going by.  Kathleen starts the conversation:

Kathleen Holt:  Is there a place in our lives these days for parents and adolescents or adults and adolescents to discuss literature – to explore how we might look at this differently or similarly?

Do the people of Plainsong represent us?

Feb 9, 2016
Karen Madorin

I’ve been thinking about the people of Haruf’s fictional community of Holt, Colorado.

Is it just me, or is this an ugly place with some ugly people?

Look, for the first half of the novel, give or take a few pages, teenagers seem to have a lot of recreational yet rough sex, fathers prowl bars, a woman is harassed by a coworker, mothers abandon their children, teenagers bully each other and brawl with their teachers. Not a pretty picture.

Kathleen Holt

I'm Eric McHenry, Kansas Poet Laureate.

Today, I'd like to explore the work of another great Kansas poet- William Stafford.  He spent his career years in Oregon where he was the Poet Laureate, but he continued to write about life and "place" on the plains of Kansas.

  Home Is the Place that Holds You

Somebody once asked the poet William Stafford why he kept writing about western Kansas, where he’d grown up, even after decades of living in Oregon. What was wrong with Oregon? “Oregon’s all right,” Stafford said, “except the mountains and the trees get in the way of the scenery.”

For Stafford, the ideal landscape was mostly skyscape. He liked an unobstructed view, prospects limited only by the distant curving away of the earth. The purpose of land isn’t to be seen; it’s to be felt with your soles. His poem “One Home” begins with the line “Mine was a Midwest home — you can keep your world,” and ends with “Wherever we looked the land would hold us up.”

pinterest.com

After receiving scores of Presidents Day sale flyers in my mailbox and e-mail, I’m flashing back to childhood celebrations of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays. Keep in mind we didn’t combine birthdays fifty years ago. We turned February into one long party. We celebrated Lincoln on February 12 and then Washington on the 22nd. When you added in a Valentine party, February was a festive month for elementary students in the late fifties and early sixties.

Kathleen Holt

Tom Averill and Tom Prasch: a discussion inspired by Kent Haruff's Plainsong.

Tom Averill:  Yeah, I’m particularly interested in Plainsong as a branch of small town literature that I study, whether it is in eastern Kansas or on the High Plains – small town literature and probably small town film, sort of have a certain number of things in common.

Tom Prasch: Yes.

Stephen Locke / http://tempestgallery.com

Green Landscapes has rated Kansas in the top seven places in the world to view a sunset. Kansas was the only place in the U.S. selected. Stephen Locke takes some of the most breathtaking sunset photos in the state.

Note: HPPR has permission from the artist to publish these photos.

Sense of Place from the Radio Reader's Forum Leader

Feb 2, 2016
Karen Madorin

I’m Rebecca Koehn, Forum Leader for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.  I’ll be hosting discussions about the current read in the 2016 Spring Read – A Sense of Place.  We’ll be discussing Kent Haruf’s Plainsong in an on-line forum that you can join by following the simple instructions available at hppr-radio-readers-dot-org.

RedOrbit.com

When you think of dinosaurs you probably don’t think of the jitterbug. But a new study claims that the ancient creatures were, in fact, known to cut a rug. According to redorbit.com, dinosaurs danced to impress potential mates and as a way of scaring off enemies.

Plainsong is a GOOD book

Jan 31, 2016
Kathleen Holt

I hope you are enjoying our discussion of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. I am, by profession, a teacher of English, but with a few publications in print, I like to think of myself as a creative writer. I enjoy studying novels and poetry for craftsmanship.

So.  When I read a book, especially a GOOD book, one that really touches me, resonates with me, as Plainsong does, deeply, I like to learn something about the author’s writing process, the way that he or she sets about to write.  In an interview for The Wall Street Journal, Haruf  noted that he would first read a passage from a favorite author – Chekhov, Faulkner, or Hemingway—so as to remind himself  “what a sentence can be.”  While Haruf’s admiration of these earlier modernist writers is worthy of further exploration, what’s more important to us is to appreciate what it tells us to expect about his style – it’s spare—relatively free of detail and description;  unadorned—plain, common words; yet, indirect, asking us to infer meaning.

Let's talk about the High Plains sense of place

Jan 29, 2016
Kathleen Holt

This is my first on-air, on-line book club, and I’m looking forward to exploring Kent Haruf’s Plainsong with you.  I currently serve as Division Chair of Humanities and English professor at Dodge City Community College where I teach, but the book club is my meeting you as a fellow reader.   

Admittedly, I am somewhat of a newbie to the High Plains having lived her for just over a decade, but in that time, I’ve driven to numerous small community for  Kansas Humanities sponsored book discussions or to vacation in a favorite small Colorado town very much like Haruf’s Holt. Traveling has given me a deep appreciation for the vastness of the High Plains as wel as its beauty – the muted palette, the skies – cloudy or clear--the panorama and for its temperamental weather.  More importantly, I’ve learned to ask, not “how many miles is that,” but “how many hours is that.”

fivethirtyeight.com / American Museum of Natural History, Ken Carpenter

The Museum of Natural History in New York revealed its latest exhibit this month, reports fivethirtyeight.com. The exhibit features the gargantuan skeleton of a plant-eating sauropod. Many paleontologists think this is the largest dinosaur ever discovered. The dinosaur doesn’t even have a proper scientific name yet. It’s being called Titanosaur in the meantime. The skeleton is 122 feet long and 19 feet high, so big that its head pokes out into the museum’s elevator bay.

Karen Madorin

By nature, Plains people share what they have with neighbors. It is how we survive and thrive. This opportunity for readers and lovers of ideas to explore and discuss our common landscape and the stories it generates is a gift. Each of us brings original perceptions to our common experience. Those differences can strengthen or weaken bonds necessary to make life good in a hard land. This group offers a venue for us to learn who we are because we value life on the Great Plains.

tedeschitrucksband.com

Tim Lefebvre - bassist for the 12-piece blues, rock, and soul band Tedeschi Trucks Band - chats with HPPR's Ryan Gottlieb about the band's brand new album Let Me Get By.  Tim also shares his experience working with David Bowie on his final album Blackstar, sitting in with the Saturday Night Live house band, and more!

Bettman / Corbis

Dinosaurs have become an everyday part of the American imagination. From Jurassic World to The Good Dinosaur, we encounter these ancient behemoths perhaps more than we even realize. But how did this obsession come about? It happened largely thanks to the efforts of one man: Barnum Brown. Brown was born in frontier Kansas in 1873. Named after the great showman P.T. Barnum, Brown would grow up to become a master promoter in his own right.

Karen Madorin

 In 1542, Father Juan Padilla wrote “the sky is so vast and unchanging that it resembles a great blue bowl turned upside down on the landscape.”  He was one of the chroniclers of the ill-fated expedition led Francisco Vasquez Coronado across the High Plains.

Coronado’s trek, along with the others led by fellow conquistadores during the Spanish exploration of the New World was never meant to just gain knowledge of the endless prairie.  The days they spent on the trackless grassland were a means to an end; the sacking of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola and the forced conversion of the natives they encountered.  Coronado came to the New World determined to spread Catholicism, impose the Spanish regal system on all they met and most important, take all the gold they could find.  They set about to abolish tribal systems in place since the Neolithic, to give those peoples no choice but to be assimilated, dominated or die.

Plainsong

Jan 20, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf is the first selection for the 2016 Spring Read.    

“In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf's beautifully executed . . . descriptions of rural existence where weather and landscape are integral to tone and mood, serving as backdrop to every scene. This is a compelling story of grief, bereavement, loneliness and anger, but also of kindness, benevolence, love and the making of a strange new family. In depicting the stalwart courage of decent, troubled people going on with their lives, Haruf's quietly eloquent account illumines the possibilities of grace.”  (From Publishers Weekly, Peter Matson, 1999)

getplants4less.com

The staff of the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Central Texas introduced me to the Growing Wild Butterfly Gardening Program, and gave me an opportunity to observe some of their beautiful butterfly habitats.  This week we’ll take a look at some butterfly gardening basics provided by the Texas parks and Wildlife Department and the Urban Fish and Wildlife Program.

Here's a list of recommended plants:  black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, curly parsley, Indian blanket, mealy blue sage, purple cone flower, dill, lemon mint and scarlet sage.

Empire of the Summer Moon

Jan 19, 2016

  Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne is the second book for the 2016 Spring Read.  

“The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often referred to as ‘lords of the Plains,’ were the single most powerful military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican and U.S. governments. This engrossing chronicle traces the rise of the Comanche people from their roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century.” (From: Jay Freeman, Booklist. Amazon)

www.examiner.com

By a generation, I missed wearing flour sack clothing. After drying dishes with Grandma’s treasured dishtowels that originated as such containers, I was relieved the Depression was over so I didn’t have to dress in something that started as a bag. However, over decades as I’ve listened to stories of those who did, I realize I missed making memories that people still talk about 70 to 80 years after the fact.

Filipa Rodrigues / KUT news

A very old craft is taking on some contemporary qualities, reports Texas Standard. It’s called modern quilting, and it’s inspired by modern art. Traditional quilts have followed a column and row format. But new, modern quilters are changing that pattern up.

A Strong West Wind

Jan 18, 2016

A Strong West Wind: A Memoir  by Gail Caldwell is the third book in the 2016 Spring Read.  

“In this exquisitely rendered memoir set on the high plains of Texas, Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell transforms into art what it is like to come of age in a particular time and place. A Strong West Wind begins in the 1950s in the wilds of the Texas Panhandle–a place of both boredom and beauty, its flat horizons broken only by oil derricks, grain elevators, and church steeples. Its story belongs to a girl who grew up surrounded by dust storms and cattle ranches and summer lightning, who took refuge from the vastness of the land and the ever-present wind by retreating into books. A memoir of culture and history–of fathers and daughters, of two world wars, the passionate rebellions of the sixties -- the book is also about the mythology of place and evolution of a sensibility: about how literature can shape and even anticipate a life” (From Amazon)

Spring Read 2016 Booklist

Jan 17, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.

Matthew Staver / New York Times

The New York Times reported this week on a hidden treasure in southeast Colorado—what the Times called “a dinosaur lover’s dream.” Picketwire Canyon is located on the Comanche National Grassland south of La Junta.

Darren Braun / Texas Monthly

This month Texas Monthly published a brief feature on the Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s headdress. The most well-known of the Comanche, Quanah’s name is still spoken with reverence in West Texas. He died in 1911, but the headdress he wore is now in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, in Canyon, Texas.

The headdress is “a magnificent assemblage of 62 golden eagle feathers, each trimmed at the top with red turkey or rooster hackles and horsehair.”

telegraph.co.uk / Alamy

From Kansas Agland:

Editor's note: This story published Aug. 15, 2010.

DIGHTON - One can see for miles across the flat High Plains. There are few houses. Few people. And with small towns dotting the landscape, there are few streetlights obstructing the view of a starry night.

Star of the Republic Museum via Portal to Texas History

In light of the standoff in Oregon, KUT has published a reminder that Texas has seen its own share of standoffs. In fact, the state’s most famous battle spawned yet another siege of its own 70 years later. In 1908 a Daughter of the Texas Republic barricaded herself in a decrepit building that had once served as the Alamo’s convent.

A Bright Spot in Waco

Jan 13, 2016
woodway-texas.com

 A trip to central Texas included an opportunity to explore the Carleen Bright Arboretum near Waco.  Established in the summer of 1999, this multi-purpose public space invites residents and tourists alike to explore the various gardens, classrooms, and community buildings.   HPPR listeners are invited to come along for a quick tour!

Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org

Fans of High Plains history might be interested in a major new biography of George Armstrong Custer, entitled Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of New America. Author T.J. Stiles takes a different approach with his book. He tells Custer’s story up to—but not including—the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

cubakansas.com

I’ve grown up hearing America called the melting pot of the world. If you spend time traveling Kansas, then you understand the Sunflower State is the biggest bubble in that boiling mess. In a few hours’ time, travelers can visit Lebanon, Denmark, Norway, and Cuba. During that journey, drivers can drop south to Glasco, named for Glasgow, Scotland. Kansas is a state of many cultures, evidenced not only by town names but also by buildings designed to honor old-country customs.

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