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Word S9.4 – Country music in the West and poetry reverberate the sounds of spring

It’s National Poetry Month and contests celebrating such abound.

Our guests include an ambassador of the Arizona State Poetry Society.

We also include a surprising teaching moment with an award-winning investigative reporter/novelist who has a new piece of historical fiction about country music in the West.

How about Arizona’s winner of Poetry Out Loud — the national poetry recitation contest?


Guest list

The Arizona State Poetry Society dived in last month to launch a youth poetry writing contest.

Christy White is outreach coordinator for the organization, but her day job involves human resources in the Valley.

The contest ends April 30.

A new work of historical fiction entitled “The Farewell Tour” by New York-based writer Stephanie Clifford often reads like memoir. It centers on a country music singer named Lillian Waters who hits the road for one last tour, making a stop at a former famous watering hole in Phoenix. Of course a wealth of female singers in that genre may come to mind, like Patsy Cline, June Carter Cash, Tanya Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and The Judds.

But Clifford, who is an award-winning journalist, says the novel isn’t based on any of them.   

According to her webography, “As a New York Times reporter for almost a decade, she covered law and business. She now writes long-form investigations about criminal justice and business for the Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, The Atlantic, Wired, Elle, Marie Claire, Bloomberg Businessweek, and other publications. Her accolades include the Loeb Award in investigative reporting; the Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence from the News Leaders Association; the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in explanatory reporting; the Deadline Club Award in Magazine Profiles; and others. Her magazine articles are frequently adapted for film, TV and streaming, including for Netflix, Lifetime and other media companies.”

Our final guest and the Arizona winner of Poetry Out Loud is Biruni Hariadi, who is a Valley high school student.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program in which high school students across the country compete. It’s a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies. In this state, the University of Arizona Poetry Center is the agency of record.

Hariadi will advance to the national competition rounds in Washington, D.C., which happen in May.

Thanks to everyone who became a KJZZ sustaining member during last month’s “March Knocks Flash Fund Drive.”

If you missed your opportunity, no worries. You can make a gift of support online.

Portions of Word have been nominated for Edward R. Murrow and Public Media Journalists Association awards.

Thanks for listening and feel free to email us with suggestions about future episodes and comments about this one.

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.