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An Interview with Joe Wilkins

From: KUFM - Montana Public Radio
Series: The Write Question
Length: 29:00

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During this program, memoirist and poet Joe Wilkins talks about growing up in the Big Dry country of eastern Montana and reads from his memoir 'The Mountain and the Fathers,' as well as two poems from his new collection, 'Notes From The Journey Westward.'

Fathers-mountains_small The Mountain and the Fathers  explores the life of boys and men in the unforgiving, harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in a drought afflicted area called the Big Dry, a land that chews up old and young alike. Joe Wilkins was born into this world, raised by a young mother and elderly grandfather following the untimely death of his father. That early loss stretches out across the Big Dry, and Wilkins uses his own story and those of the young boys and men growing up around him to examine the violence, confusion, and rural poverty found in this distinctly American landscape..

Ultimately, these lives put forth a new examination of myth and manhood in the American west and cast a journalistic eye on how young men seek to transcend their surroundings in the search for a better life. Rather than dwell on grief or ruin, Wilkins’ memoir posits that it is our stories that sustain us, and The Mountain and The Fathers ,  much like the work of Norman MacClean or Jim Harrison, heralds the arrival of an instant literary classic.

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The Mountain and the Fathers was a 2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book. Joe Wilkins is also the author of two collections of poems, Notes from the Journey Westward , winner of the 17th Annual White Pine Press Prize in Poetry, and Killing the Murnion Dogs , a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award. A 2010 National Magazine Award finalist and PEN Center USA Award finalist, he is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award of Blue Mountain Center, which goes to “a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice.”

He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in western Oregon’s Yamhill Valley, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.

Piece Description

The Mountain and the Fathers  explores the life of boys and men in the unforgiving, harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in a drought afflicted area called the Big Dry, a land that chews up old and young alike. Joe Wilkins was born into this world, raised by a young mother and elderly grandfather following the untimely death of his father. That early loss stretches out across the Big Dry, and Wilkins uses his own story and those of the young boys and men growing up around him to examine the violence, confusion, and rural poverty found in this distinctly American landscape..

Ultimately, these lives put forth a new examination of myth and manhood in the American west and cast a journalistic eye on how young men seek to transcend their surroundings in the search for a better life. Rather than dwell on grief or ruin, Wilkins’ memoir posits that it is our stories that sustain us, and The Mountain and The Fathers ,  much like the work of Norman MacClean or Jim Harrison, heralds the arrival of an instant literary classic.

The Write Question blog

The Write Question on Facebook

The Write Question podcast

The Mountain and the Fathers was a 2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book. Joe Wilkins is also the author of two collections of poems, Notes from the Journey Westward , winner of the 17th Annual White Pine Press Prize in Poetry, and Killing the Murnion Dogs , a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award. A 2010 National Magazine Award finalist and PEN Center USA Award finalist, he is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award of Blue Mountain Center, which goes to “a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice.”

He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in western Oregon’s Yamhill Valley, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.

Timing and Cues

music bed between 15:50 and 16:25