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

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Discover one of America's most prolific songwriters.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we speak with biographer Arlene Corsano about the life and music of Arkansan songwriter and singer Rose Marie McCoy. 

Through personal stories and rare interview recordings with McCoy, Corsona tells the in-depth and behind-the-scenes story of a complicated singer and songwriter who broke barrier after barrier as a black woman in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s in the music business. 

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

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

Our Executive Producer and Host J. Bradley Minnick is busy in the studio recording for Season Six, but he'll break away for a few minutes for a behind the scenes discussion about how music is selected and placed in various episodes.           

Photo courtesy of Eugene Lawson

The True Tale of "Arkansas Gun Girl," Helen Spence

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we continue our discussion with Denise Parkinson about the mysterious and infamous life of 1930s "outlaw" Helen Ruth Spence.

Parkinson's book, Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta is a true-life tale about a depression-era tragedy.

The True Tale of "Arkansas Gun Girl," Helen Spence

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with writer Denise White Parkinson. Her book is titled Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta and is published by The History Press.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with hospice educator and pastor Dr. Kathleen J. Rusnak about what the dying learn about living at the end of life and how this knowledge is their gift to us in the midst of life.

Her book Because You've Never Died Before, published by Brick Wall 2, offers a framework for giving meaning to the experiences of those who are dying as well as an opportunity to gain from the wisdom and insight of the dying for your own life now.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we speak with writer Joe Meno.  Published by Akashic Books, his novel,  Marvel and a Wonder, is set in the summer of 1995.

Jim Falls, a grandfather and Korean War veteran, sets out alone to raise his grandson Quentin. 

Marvel and a Wonder is firmly ensconced in place and reveals the wonderment of possibility, which is looming just beyond the next hill. And then the next. . . 

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler about his many books informed by theories on desire, life's chance meetings and conscious decisions that inform sometimes unconscious occurrences in the world.

A life in letters, the varied novels, the wildly inventive short stories, the radical pedagogy, please join us for a retrospective on his work thus far--Robert Olen Butler in his own words.

SAGE Publications

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with Dr. Avinash Thombre, a communication professor in the Department of Applied Communication, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Ramesh N. Rao, professor of communications at Columbus State University in Georgia.

Their book Intercultural Communication The Indian Context, published by Sage Publications, introduces us to the challenges of, and opportunities for, communicating across a myriad verbal and non-verbal differences in India. 

On this special episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring a The River Whispers Her Name: A Christmas Tale, penned and performed by Jay Grelen, based on the book by the same name.

Four-year-old Rebekah Freeman wanders away from her house, her mother, father and brother, Four Door, in search of an elusive Christmas package.

The River Whispers Her Name chronicles Rebekah's misadventures beginning on the eve of Christmas Eve in the marshes of Alabama.  

Fierce Solitude

Nov 4, 2018
Center for Arkansas History and Culture, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring biographer Ben Johnson. His biography,  Fierce Solitude,  published by the University of Arkansas Press, remembers to tumultuous life of Arkansas  Pulitzer Prize winning poet, John Gould Fletcher.

Though not widely know today, Fletcher was very influential in mid-twentieth centery literary circles--one of the shock troops for free-verse imagist lyric; a fervent Agrarian and a paradox--a man filled with contradictions that have baffled scholars and deepened his obscurity.   

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring writer Phillippe Diederich. His novel for young adults Playing For The Devil's Fire is a portrait of friendship, corruption, and playing for keeps in the small town of Izayoc, Mexico--a pueblo in a tiny valley, only a few hours west of Mexico City, where the state of Mexico meets the states of Michoacan and Guerrerro.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring writer Adam Ehrlich Sachs, whose book Inherited Disorders: Stories, Parables & Problems is a series of one hundred and seventeen fictional pieces.

The book chronicles the sometimes competitive and often dyspeptic relationships between fathers and sons--the imprint each leaves upon each--the idea of outrunning each other's shadow.

Ig Press

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring writer Steve Yarbrough, who talks about his relationship with Larry McMurtry's seminal novel The Last Picture Show-- a work of literature that left a powerful impression on Yarbrough when he was growing up in the Mississippi Delta.

The Ig Publishing Bookmarked series is a collection of personal narratives about books that have profoundly influenced a renowned writer’s life.   

E. Cappell

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with Dr. Ezra Cappell, Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of English at the College of Charleston about the letters his grandfather sent to his family & his fiancé, Isa, from Fort Breendonk prison camp in Brussels. 

"Letters from Breendonk"  helps to complete the picture— filling in the fissures and gaps in the story of the thousands of Jewish victims of Fort Breendonk.

Atelier26 Books

Listen to the Episode

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be featuring a short story entitled "Preferred Signals, 1985" from Arkansas writer Woody Skinner's short story collection: A Thousand Distant Radios, published by Atelier 26 Books.