Every other Wednesday tune into 100.1 KTHX for Wednesday Picks, where Christine highlights the books that are entertaining us here at Sundance Books and Music. She features a mix of new, old, famous, forgotten, intriguing and otherwise enlightening titles.
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A look back at the cultural and political force of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, in celebration of her hundredth birthday
Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the great American literary icons of the twentieth century, a protege of Langston Hughes and mentor to a generation of poets, including Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Elizabeth Alexander.
Her poetry took inspiration from the complex portraits of black American life she observed growing up on Chicago's Southside--a world of kitchenette apartments and vibrant streets. From the desk in her bedroom, as a child she filled countless notebooks with poetry, encouraged by the likes of Hughes and affirmed by Richard Wright, who called her work "raw and real."
Welcome to the land of wildfire, hypothermia, desiccation, and rattlers. The stark and inhospitable high-elevation landscape of Nevada's Great Basin Desert may not be an obvious (or easy) place to settle down, but for self-professed desert rat Michael Branch, it's home. Of course, living in such an unforgiving landscape gives one many things to rant about. Fortunately for us, Branch--humorist, environmentalist, and author of Raising Wild--is a prodigious ranter. From bees hiving in the walls of his house to owls trying to eat his daughters' cat--not to mention his eccentric neighbors--adventure, humor, and irreverence abound on Branch's small slice of the world, which he lovingly calls Ranting Hill.
Taking its title from an affecting speech given by renowned author Barry Lopez, Because It Is So Beautiful is a response to desperate questions surrounding the protection and preservation of America's wildlands. Lopez asserted that wilderness activists will never achieve the success they seek until they can testify before legislators that a certain river or mountain must be saved--not because of its economic importance or its recreational, historical, or scientific value, but because it is so beautiful. The words resonated with young mountaineer-musician-mathematician Robert Leonard Reid, who was struggling to understand his relationship to the world, to find his vision as a writer. What he learned on that long-ago evening is that to save a wilderness--or indeed even to live one's life--you must reach deep into your heart and find what is there, then speak it plainly and without shame. This belief is knit throughout the nineteen pieces in the collection, which include essays from Reid's previous books Arctic Circle, Mountains of the Great Blue Dream, and America, New Mexico, three essays that appear here in print for the first time, as well as revised and expanded versions of essays that appeared in Touchstone, The Progressive, and elsewhere.