Arts & Letters

Arts & Letters is a program celebrating contemporary arts, humanities, and social sciences, with an emphasis on authentic Southern voices. Hosted by J. Bradley Minnick of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the full episode archive is available at artsandlettersradio.org

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Take a deep dive into the infamous dive bar, the Hotel Vernon.

On this episode, we interview poet Lea Graham about her book, “From The Hotel Vernon” where she tells tales from her time from behind the bar and tales from the bar’s vibrant and storied past.

Radio Eldorado

May 23, 2021

Take a deep dive into the 1969 fire at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant with author Tyrone Jaeger and his novel Radio Eldorado, published by Braddock Avenue Books

In the novel, Alvin Wund, a recent widower and security guard at the plant, is called in to help fight the fire. Amongst the flames, alarms and contamination, he sees the blue ghost of his wife, Esther.

A blue light flashed...

Meet math-loving fourth grader, Danny Bowman Marsh, and join us for an unforgettable story to remind us all that we do not choose our parents. 

Note: This episode contains depictions of parental neglect.

On this episode, author Amy Parker joins us to discuss her short story collection, Beasts & Children, published by Mariner Books, and we take a journey into her short story, "The Balcony."

UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture

Discover Sue Cowan Williams, an early Civil Rights advocate in Arkansas, who sued the Little Rock School District for equal pay in 1942. With Thurgood Marshall at her side, she paved the way for social justice work in Arkansas.

On this episode, we take a deep dive into early Civil Rights by examining the life and social justice advocacy of Sue Cowan Williams and foundational work of the NAACP in Arkansas and beyond.

A discussion of the roots of Ozark rural resistance to federalist authority.

Join us as we interview historian J. Blake Perkins about the history of populist defiance in Arkansas.

UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture

A retrospective of Governor Orval Faubus.

On this episode, we interview Civil Rights historian John Kirk and explore his archived tapes of an interview with Gov. Orval Faubus recorded in 1992.

From 1955 to 1967, Faubus served as the Democratic Governor of Arkansas.  He is most known for leading Arkansas's refusal to comply with the Supreme Court's 1954 decision regarding desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education.

Michael Hibblen

Celebrate a life in public radio

Long-time host of UA Little Rock Public Radio's program, Arts Scene, Ann Nicholson (1932-2020) created over 1000 episodes of her program during her 35 year career.

On this episode, we offer a rare interview with our colleague Ann where she recounts personal memories and stories from her past. With her long-time producer William Wagner by her side, we discussed her background and how she came to radio.

In Costume

Dec 6, 2020

Meet American short-story writer and novelist, Jeffrey Condran. Jane Austen reenactors, a surprise celebrity appearance, and Ava, who always looks just right, in costume... 

On this episode, J. Bradley Minnick interviews author Jeffrey Condran about his short story "In Costume" from his collection, Claire, Wading Into the Danube By Night

During the annual fundraiser for the Jane Austen Society in Bath, we meet main character, Ava, a hopeful actress and one of the reenactors dressed in period costume.

Iterations

Nov 8, 2020

Experience the interconnectivity of music and social and political spoken word in four movements for narrator, French horn, oboe, and piano.

On this episode, J. Bradley Minnick interviews poet and artist Terry Wright about this performance piece he titles “Iterations.”

This project includes Wright’s poetry and visual art, as well as music composed by Daniel De Togni and performed by Lorraine Duso Kitts and Kazuo Murakami on piano. 

Preview award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier’s latest release, The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, Brockmeier shares three stories from his latest project published by Penguin Random House. 

A certain Russian philosopher maintained that people are not born with their souls but must labor to create them. Anyone who fails to do so, he insisted, will dissolve upon dying into nonexistance. 

Imagine a noble cruise ship with a rogue charlatan as its new captain with followers "most fowl" and a conspiracy theorist speaking from the bowels of the ship...

Join us as we interview author and journalist Dave Eggers about his satirical allegory, The Captain and the Glory.

 

Discover American author John Edward Williams, who wrote Stoner, critically described as the "perfect novel."

Yet, both Williams and this book remain largely obscure to American readers. On this episode, we interview renowned literary biographer Charles J. Shields. 

    

Can a blind astronomer, who claims to use the longest telescope in the world, accurately predict an eclipse?  Does it take a madman to truly "see" reality? What is the nature of tasty dumplings?

On this episode, we speak with author Adam Ehrlich Sachs who explores these questions in his satiric novel The Organs of Sense

Map the territory of trauma and survival with poet H. K. Hummel.

On this episode, we speak with Hummel about her 2020 collection Lessons in Breathing Underwater, published by Sundress Publications. Faced with her own battle for survival after childbirth, these poems attempt to understand personal catastrophe by sharing memories of her own recovery in parallel with historical and mythological women who have faced insurmountable challenges.

"Everything Goes Deeper Than You Expect"

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we celebrate the music from Season Six.

Hosted by producer Mary Ellen Kubit, this episode shares favorite and memorable music from the various episodes this year. 

As many of you know, music is at the heart of much of our storytelling, and we typically feature singers, songwriters and musicians from Arkansas and across the Mid-South. 

This episode airs Friday, August 28 at 7:00pm cdt, and Sunday, August 30 at 9:00pm cdt.

 

C. Schutt

Does the garden die with the gardener?

Join us as J. Bradley Minnick and his guest, award-winning author Christine Schutt, explore the answer to this question through Schutt's short story, "The Duchess of Albany."

The story deals with loss, isolation, meddling adult children, issues of aging, and the desire to preserve what others have left behind.

Reflections on home, family, and the spiritual essence of place…

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we'll be talking with writer Jennifer Case about her memoir Sawbill: A Search for Place, published by University of New Mexico Press. 

Writing Geeks

Apr 20, 2020

Geek out with the A&L team as we interview Stephanie Vanderslice, self-proclaimed writing geek--blogger, scholar, teacher, and mom ...

Escape with us to the shopping mall, as Matthew Newton and the Arts & Letters team craft a nostalgic love letter to the malls of America, with special focus on the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we'll be talking with writer Matthew Newton about his Bloomsbury Object Lessons' book Shopping Mall, which chronicles its history, its relationship to us and our collective communities and our personal relationships to it.

A Brief Pause

Mar 23, 2020
Elixir Press

Meet American prize-winning short story author: Amina Gautier.

Today on Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with award-winning writer Amina Gautier.  Her third short story collection, The Loss of All Lost Things, published by Elixir Press is about reconstituting lives after imaginable and unimaginable losses. In this episode, we'll be examining her story "A Brief Pause." 

The Loss of All Lost Things won the Elixir Press Award in Fiction and the 2018 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. 

Life Was Golden

Mar 19, 2020
M. E. Kubit

A Guided Tour of the Historic Cane Hill Museum

Walk with us as we explore the Historic Cane Hill Museum.

This show is our second in a series of two episodes. The first episode, "Still On Cane Hill," explored the musical project "Cane Hill" written by folk duo Kelly and Donna Mulhullan of Still On The Hill.

Settle in on your front porch rocking chairs and listen to musical tales of Doc Bean, Cousin Annie's Apple Pie, the Trail of Tears, and JD Wilbur's Pottery—all from the historic Northwest Arkansas town, Cane Hill.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with musicians Kelly and Donna Mulhollan of the musical group Still On The Hill about their musical project Cane Hill -- a historical town with its Main Street, college, fountain on the square, and town doctor. 

The Life of Legendary Story Chaser, Tim Samaras.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with participant journalist Brantley Hargrove about his book The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras.

Tsutsui family photos

Unearth the reasons why so many of us love Godzilla, with Professor Tsutsui as our guide.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with William Tsutsui, former President of Hendrix College and a self-admitted aficionado of "all-things Godzilla." 

Tsutsui's book Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. published by Saint Martin's Griffin, recovers Godzilla from b-movie status and celebrates the King of the Monsters.

Imagine what James Baldwin might say if he were alive today.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with writer Vincent Tolliver about his one-man play, James Baldwin: Striking a Match to America, An Address at Columbia University, which has been performed in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The play imagines James Baldwin alive today talking to the American people about writing, race, and reparations. 

 

An excerpt from the play:

The Tradition

Dec 8, 2019
Copper Canyon Press

Explore American Poetry.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with poet Jericho Brown about his national book award finalist poetry collection The Tradition, published by Copper Canyon Press.

This collection focuses on multiple mythic traditions and confronts injury, loss, and love.

“Dark”

I am sick of your sadness,

Jericho Brown, your blackness,

Your books. Sick of you

Laying me down

... I’m sick

Michael Weintrob

On this fun-filled episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with musicians Rob Schwimmer and Mark Stewart of Polygraph Lounge about various ways of thinking about and rethinking conceptions of music. 

Based on two shows Schwimmer and Stewart created for Carnegie Hall Presents, we feature music and discussions about the exploration of sound. 

The Colony

Oct 19, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Immerse yourself in the haunting experiences of patients institutionalized in a Southern state-run facility that sterilized patients without their consent until the mid-twentieth century.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with poet Molly McCully Brown about her poetry collection The Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, published by Persea Books, which imagines the voices of patients and staff of the Colony.

Whatever it is--

home or hospital,

graveyard or asylum,

government facility or great

Image Courtesy of Tyson Foods

Explore the life and nonfiction of Donald Harington, known as "the Chaucer of the Ozarks" for his artistic and literary portrayal of the traditions and culture of the tri-state region of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with editor Brian Walter about the collected non-fiction of novelist Donald Harington.

Photo from cover of Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll

Explore the Music of This Rock & Roll Pioneer

In Part II, Arts & Letters continues speaking with biographer Arlene Corsano about the music and career of Arkansan songwriter and singer Rose Marie McCoy and Corsano's book Thought We Were Writing The Blues But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll.

Catch up and listen to Part I before this episode!

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