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What The Hellbender Salamander!

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we take a dive into the streams and rivers of the Ozarks in Arkansas and Missouri to learn the saga of North America’s largest amphibian, the hellbender salamander.

Our guide is author, activist, professor and eco-poet Mark Spitzer, whose avant-garde epic poem, GLURK! A Hellbender Odyssey, serves as the basis for our journey.

“The plight of this amphibian — an evolutionary phenomenon — has as much to say about humans and our relationship with the natural world as it does about Cryptobranchus alleganiensis itself," Spitzer, the author of more than 20 books, exclaims.

Spitzer’s book on the hellbender was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The book’s publisher is Anaphora Press.

Spitzer (1965-2023) was an associate creative writing professor at the University of Central Arkansas. You can learn about some of his advocacy and love for the Alligator Gar in this previous episode of Arts & Letters.

Mark Spitzer
Credit Mark Spitzer
Mark Spitzer talks at a reading next to his hand-crafted Glurk musical instrument.

This program was made possible through generous funding by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We’d also like to thank musicians Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery of R. Ring, Joey Kneiser and Kelly Smith, Gallows Bound, Amyjo Savannah, Open Fields, Randall Shrieve, Kinderfunken, John Burnette amd the Uh Huhs for their glurk-tastic contributions to this show. 

Joey Kneiser and Kelly Smith

Listen to the song, "The Good Ones," performed by Joey Kneiser and Kelly Smith.

Listen to the song, "Steam," performed by R. Ring.

Listen to a song by Open Fields, "Old Folks," recorded at KUAR.

The Uh Huhs
Listen to Uh Huhs member Zac Hale perform an acoustic version of "Long Distance" at KUAR.

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