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Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Students in Kansas City and across the country stage a school walkout, 19 years after a mass shooting at Columbine High School.

Katie Moore/The Topeka Capital-Journal

Annette Billings says poetry isn’t about precious kittens and pretty flowers. Rather, she says, the form often calls for much harder, more controversial subject matter.

“Sometimes I feel compelled to write about a murder,” she says, “or a woman who’s living in a domestic violence environment.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How do university students ensure their priorities have a voice in state government?

Students in Kansas and Missouri have concerns that go beyond their next exams and life after graduation. They point to soaring tuition rates, concealed weapons on campus, sexual harassment and assault, and state support for higher education. To communicate their concerns, student lobbyists work the hallways in both state Capitols. Today, we met the students who do this important work.

H.C. Palmer

H.C. Palmer had graduated from medical school but hadn't yet finished his residency when the Army drafted him in the mid-1960s.

President Lyndon Johnson's administration took 1,500 men from medical training programs across the country and sent them to Vietnam as surgeons.

By August 1965, Palmer found himself in a war zone as part of the First Infantry Division. All these years later, he says he’ll never completely find his way out — nor will others who’ve been similarly exposed to the “many horrific things that happen in war,” he told me in a recent interview.

Channy Chhi Laux

Channy Chhi Laux is an American. She earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska and a master’s from the University of Santa Clara in California. Laux’s son is an Eagle Scout, and her daughter has nearly finished a doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Her list of American-sounding accomplishments is long, including working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for 30 years and starting a specialty foods company called Apsara.

Segment 1: South Kansas City is changing.

A revamped Red Bridge Shopping Center, a new Cerner campus, Wonderscope Children's Museum moving in ... the southern part of the metro is changing. What exactly is South Kansas City and what's going on there?

Segment 2, beginning at 24:45: A novelist on writing cross-cultural romances.

Segment 1: How do you learn how to read?

Reading is an important life skill that starts at an early age. But how do kids actually learn how to do it? There is research, of course, but implementing the findings is more complicated that you might think.

 

Jon Demlar

Francis Sommer had planned a vacation to Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain to visit an Army buddy. The friendship arose from a particularly fraught 2006 deployment to Afghanistan, and the two looked forward to reconnecting in a peaceful, beautiful place.

But it was Robert Sommer, Francis’ father, who spent the day with the friend.

Francis was killed in 2011.

courtesy: Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart has nurtured a lot of up-and-coming writers over the decades he's spent as an editor at New Letters magazine and as a writing instructor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

In December, Stewart released a new book of his own poetry. He called it "Working Class" in recognition of his roots as well as the blue-collar ethos he brings to writing.  

Paul Andrews / HTTP://PAULANDREWSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM/

Candice Millard is a Leawood resident and bestselling author who has written books about dramatic, vulnerable moments in the lives of historical figures like James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Find out how she discovered her niche writing about the lesser-known incidents in the lives of monumental individuals.

Guest:

Aaron Brown

Brian Daldorph, who teaches English at the University of Kansas, published his sixth book of poetry late last year. “Ice Age/Edad de Hielo” is both a celebration of his late father’s life and a glimpse into losing a parent to Alzheimer’s, which Daldorph did in 2012.

John Singer Sargent / Public Domain

Segment 1: A great and dreadful tableau of Great War horrors.

georgesaundersbooks.com

A recent high-profile deportation case in Lawrence has spurred local discussions about immigration law. Today, attorney Jonathan Willmoth explains why many immigrants to America overstay their visas, and what options those individuals have.

Peggy Clark / Washburn University

Nell Johnson Doerr’s husband rolled her up in a carpet so she’d survive Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence. Lying alongside the limestone foundation of her house, she hears her husband’s murder but is powerless to help him.

Kansas writer Thomas Fox Averill’s entirely fictitious book, “Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr,” is rooted in the abolitionist movement, but the character of Nell begins to live and breathe while trapped in the carpet.Readers familiar with Averill’s work might recall that the protagonists of his novel “rode,” found a baby in a raided house near her dead parents. Nell Johnson Doerr is that baby.

Lorie Shaull / Flickr -- CC

In the mid-1800s, a young woman and her husband moved to the Kansas Territory to help runaway slaves. The husband died during Quantrill's raid, leaving her alone. Hear Nell Johnson Doerr's story, as told through diary entries, letters and various documents found in the rafters of a Lawrence barn. But just one thing: this is a work of fiction. A chat with the author of this new novel.

Phillip Taylor / Flickr -- CC

A Kansas Citian just returned from his first trip back to Puerto Rico since it was devastated by two hurricanes. We hear how recovery is going from his on-the-ground perspective.

Then: when you think of Antarctica, you may picture a vast land covered with snow. But did you know that plants used to grow there? A scientist is back from an Arctic expedition with plant fossils that she collected — fossils that may tell us something about how life withstands climate change.

Shawn CMH / Wikimedia Commons

At the turn of the 20th century, two sisters who were determined to provide medical care to Kansas City's underserved kids founded what became a local institution. Today, we learn about the women behind Children's Mercy Hospital. Then, jazz vocalist Deborah Brown reflects on her Kansas City roots and a music career that's led her around the world.

Meg Kumin

Over the past several months, Kansas novelist Laura Moriarty has found herself in a firestorm.

Her fifth novel, "American Heart," is scheduled to be released on January 30. But readers who received advance copies, and those who only read a synopsis, have already expressed fury over the fictional world this white, non-Muslim writer imagined; her status as a white non-Muslim was one point of contention.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It took Sandra Allen a few years but when she finally read the 60-page autobiographical manuscript her paranoid schizophrenic uncle Bob sent her, she found a lens into his creative, curious and sometimes discombobulating mind. Today, Allen reflects on what her uncle's life reveals about mental health in America.

Clément Bucco-Lechat / Wikimedia Commons

For a town of barely more than 3,400 residents, Norwich, Vermont, produces a lot of Olympians. Today, sports reporter Karen Crouse tells us about the town's mindset and lifestyle that, since 1984, has put an athlete on every U.S. Winter Olympic team except one (and sent two athletes to the summer games for good measure).

Andrey Shkvarchuk / Flickr - CC

"There are a lot of dangers during the winter, especially when we're hitting temperatures around zero," says veterinarian Wayne Hunthausen. Today, the pet behavior expert answers our burning questions about cold weather pet safety and how to avoid dangers like antifreeze, frostbite and melting salt. Then, we learn about "gaslighting," particularly as it relates to politics and the current #MeToo movement.

Public domain / United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

It may not seem like a health issue at first but Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States (and first person of Indian descent to hold the post), is very concerned about what he calls a 'loneliness epidemic.' Today, we dig into why he thinks tackling it is one of the most important things society can do.

Bibliofiles: Romance

Jan 2, 2018
Stewart Butterfield / Flickr-CC

Love is hard to define — so how do you analyze a whole literary genre with rules built around the concept? Today, KCUR's 'Bibliofiles' explain the themes, constructs and plot devices behind the romance genre. They also recommend their favorite books featuring romantic elements and wade through controversy stirred up by a condescending article on romance novels featured in the New York Times.

Guests:

Danie Alexander / KCUR 89.3

Have a little last minute shopping to do for the young bookworms on your list? With a visit to your local bookstore, and these recommendations from the Johnson County Librarians, you'll be all set. Today, the librarians give us their reading pics for tots to teens and all the kids in-between. 

Guests: 

  • Debbie McCleod, retired librarian.
  • Elena McVicar, youth collections librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, youth services supervisor.

Books:

Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

Given the importance of the American presidency, it's no surprise photos of the commander-in-chief tend to become iconic. Today, veteran White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh explains what makes the White House photographer role so influential, and why he thinks Pres. Trump is missing an opportunity with his chief image-maker. Then, we hear from two leaders in the Missouri Statehouse, Democrat Rep.

Associated Booking Corporation

A great song makes us feel happy, sad, or any of the emotions in between, and it endures. Today, Wall Street Journal contributor, author and music historian Marc Myers shares the stories behind some of the last century's most iconic tunes. Learn the elements of successful hit songs by Tammy Wynette, the Allman Brothers, Steely Dan and others.

Arlington National Cemetery / Flickr - CC

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, a gay couple living in Texas, strove to keep a low profile and their sexual orientation private. However, as the movement for marriage equality expanded, they finally agreed to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit that would overturn their state's ban on same-sex marriage. Author David Collins recounts their journey in Accidental Activists.

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

Courtesy Elizabeth Schultz

Few people in their 80s are inclined, or able, to feed time and energy into a second career. Elizabeth Schultz is such an anomaly.

As an English professor at the University of Kansas, Schultz was an acclaimed scholar on Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” However, just before her retirement in 2001, she felt a pull toward a more creative use of language.

Lane Pearman / Flickr - CC

Kansas doesn't usually rank high as an outdoor destination state. But, while there are no grand canyons, snowcapped peaks, or white sand beaches, it does have a subtle character all its own. Today, we meet two sisters-in-law who made a mission of visiting every state park in Kansas. They say outdoorsy-types might be giving the Sunflower State the short shrift. Then, only about 1 percent of Americans currently serve in the armed forces. While some see this as evidence of progress, others think it's a problem.

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