Past Interviews

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Charlotte Reemts Talks About Conservation and the Ponderosa Pine

On tonight’s West Texas Talk, we revisit our 2017 conversation with Charlotte Reemts, a research and monitoring ecologist with the Nature Conservancy in Texas. She talks to us about the conservancy’s role in Texas, its collaboration with the Texas A&M Forest Service on “Operation Ponderosa”, and what makes the Davis Mountains so unique.

Part of what makes the region’s vegetation so unique, Reemts says, is that it’s considered a sky island, which is “a mountain regañe surrounded by desert. So the Davis mountains are surrounded by Chihuahuan desert. And what makes them so different is they got a lot of rainfall,” explains Reemts.

This means you get a lot of plants of animals that can survive in the higher, cooler areas of the mountains, like the Ponderosa Pine. The tree, Reemts says has been through hardships in the last several years due to wildfire and drought.

In this interview, Reemts explains the Ponderosa’s important role in the region and how the Nature Conservancy and the state are working to bring back this stately tree.


Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Lannan Resident, Chinelo Okparanta

On tonight’s West Texas Talk, a conversation with Lannan writer-in-residence Chinelo Okparanta.

Okparanta Under the Udala Trees (2015) and Happiness, Like Water (2013). One of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012, she was a finalist for the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and was short-listed for the 2013 Caine Prize in African Writing.

Her work was nominated for the 2016 NAACP Image Awards in Fiction as well as for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Fiction – Okparanta’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, among others.

Friday, Jan 26, 2018:
Lannan Resident Ladan Osman

On this episode of “West Texas Talk,” Elise Pepple sits down with Lannan Resident Ladan Osman to talk about familial influence and heritage in her writing.

Osman is currently working on Exiles of Eden, a book of poetry, essays and photos that will be published by Coffee House Press in 2019. The work will explore different forms of exile rooted in the story of Adam and Eve. In this interview, Osman explains how studying isolation in this biblical story deepens understanding of the plight of refugees, immigrants, and exiles.

Ladan Osman was born in Somalia. She earned a BA at Otterbein College and an MFA at the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers. Her chapbook, Ordinary Heaven, appears in Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014). Her full-length collection The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) won the Sillerman First Book Prize. Her work has appeared in Apogee, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Transition Magazine, and Waxwing. 

Thursday, Jan 25, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Andrew Shapter Revisits the Porvenir Massacre in Documentary and Feature-Length Film

This January marks the hundredth anniversary of the Porvenir Massacre of 1918, a dark event in West Texas history. This event was one of the many clashes that took place on the border between men of Mexican-descent and Texas Rangers during the Mexican Revolution. Fifteen men were killed outside of their village in Porvenir Texas. The site was abandoned and burned down shortly after the executions. Some Texas Rangers were fired, but never indicted for murder.

Filmmaker Andrew Shapter is producing  a documentary and feature-length film about this historical event. In this conversation, Shapter discusses the importance of this history and what it means today. “It was a decade of 1910 to 1920 that has sort of not been explored in cinema before,” he explains.

More information about this work can be found here.

A Centennial Remembrance of Texas State Representative José T. Canales & the 1918 Porvenir Massacre will take place from 1-3 pm  on Sunday, January 28th at the Texas State Capitol Extension Auditorium in Austin. The program will consist of specialists in their fields sharing information about this event of the past and upcoming future memorials, including the unveiling of a Texas State Historical marker in Presidio County in 2018.

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Director David Brown Discusses Documentary “Agave is Life”

David Brown is an archeologist, anthropologist, and co-directed the 2014 documentary “Agave is Life” with partner Meredith Dreiss. In this program, Brown and Nguyen discuss the importance of agave to cultures of Mexico and the American Southwest.

This documentary was one of the inspirations for the first ever Agave Festival, which was held in Marfa in June of 2017.

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Lannan Resident Emily Raboteau

On this episode of West Texas Talk, Elise sits down with author and Lannan Fellow Emily Raboteau. Raboteau is the author of a novel, The Professor’s Daughter (Henry Holt) and a work of creative nonfiction, Searching for Zion (Grove/Atlantic), named a best book of 2013 by The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award, grand prize winner of the New York Book Festival, and winner of a 2014 American Book Award.

Raboteau’s fiction and essays have been widely published and anthologized in Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, The Guardian, Guernica, VQR, The Believer, Salon,  and elsewhere.  Honors include a Pushcart Prize, The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.  An avid world traveler, Raboteau resides in New York City and teaches creative writing in Harlem at City College, once known as “the poor man’s Harvard.”

Friday, Jan 19, 2018:
Lannan Resident Nick Flynn

On this edition of West Texas Talk, a conversation with writer, poet, playwright, and current Lannan writer-in-residence, Nick Flynn.

Flynn is the recipient of multiple writing awards, including the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir and PEN/Joyce Osterwell Award for Poetry.

Some of Flynn’s works include Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Some Ether, The Reenactments, and Blind Huber.

In this conversation Flynn talks about the inspirations of his work, and reads selections of new poetry he’s been working on.


Thursday, Jan 18, 2018:
Rebroadcast: Midland County’s Library Director John Trischitti on Literacy

Midland County’s Library Director John Trischitti, better known as Mr. T, has put Midland on the map as one of the state’s top libraries. In 2014, he won Texas Librarian of the year, and one of his passions is literacy. In March 2017, Trischitti gave a Ted Talk at Abilene Christian University about the larger implications of illiteracy. Nguyen and John discuss the correlation between illiteracy and lower income, poor health, and greater inequality.

Midland Need to Read summarizes estimates on the literacy gap in Midland County based on reports from Texas literacy organizations:

Friday, Jan 12, 2018:
Marfa Contemporary: Grand Opening/Grand Closing

On this episode of West Texas Talk we take a look at the final days for Marfa Contemporary. The art nonprofit – an extension of Oklahoma Contemporary – is closing after nearly 5 years in West Texas.

Continue reading

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018:
Sonja Klein’s “Ambushed by America”

Caroline Halter speaks to author Sonja Klein about her newest book, Ambushed by America – a collection of essays on life, love, and travel.

Sonja Rose Klein is a fifth generation Texan, a native Houstonian, and graduate of The University of Texas. She has taught school, worked at NASA as an editor and after retiring as a property tax consultant, she moved to the Nueces Canyon 18 years ago where she gardens, reads avidly, writes and raises a few sheep as well as hosting short term rentals on four of the homes on her isolated ranch. She divides her time between her ranch in Real County and her casita in Alpine, Texas.