New Letters on the Air

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Listening to New Letters on the Air is like eavesdropping on intimate conversations with favorite writers who reveal secrets about their creative methods, read a few favorite passages, and inspire the listener's imagination.

NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is a weekly half-hour show that has been entertaining and informing audiences about contemporary writers and literature since 1977. Each week, the program focuses on a writer of poetry, fiction or essays, either in an intimate interview or in a public reading before an audience. Post-produced with narrative and music, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR gives insight into the creative writing process and the universal stories that writers tell.

Each show is self-contained and undated, except for the occasional holiday or theme related program. 30- and 60-second produced promos are provided weekly on the PRSS promo satellite feeds and on Content Depot. Written promos are posted weekly on the DACS along with the timings and cues. Other distribution methods are available.

Though educational, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is not pedantic, and the conversation is often filled with laughter as authors discuss and read from their books. Our archive programs contain many Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, along with recipients of other major literary awards. Recent guests include poets Sherman Alexie, Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, and Alicia Ostriker; dramatists August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner; essayists Meghan Daum, Susan Orlean, and David Sedaris; fiction writers Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, and Ha Jin. The program also features less-familiar but remarkable writers whose work and contributions are equally engaging.

"Most people have a creative streak, whether they're interested in writing or not," says Angela Elam, host of NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR. "I hope by exploring the writer's process and hearing work that captures the essence of our lives, the program will inspire listeners to do something creative in their own way."


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5 Pieces

NOTE: ALL EPISODES CAN STAND ALONE; NO OBLIGATION TO RUN THE ENTIRE SERIES. This five-episode series of one-hour programs features 17 of the men and women who have served as United States Poet Laureates over the past four decades, from the late Howard Nemerov (1963-64) to Donald Hall (beginning 2006). These conversations and readings of poetry vary from humorous to heavy, but are always thought-provoking, and are perfect for National Poetry Month in April, though they can be used anytime.


Caption: Sherwin Bitsui
Sherwin Bitsui reads from FLOOD SONG, his poetry collection that won the 2010 American Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award. Raised in a border t...

Bought by WJCU

  • Added: May 24, 2012
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Luis Alberto Urrea
Known for his book THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction, and his American Book Award-winning memoir, NOBODY'S SON, Luis Al...

Bought by WJCU

  • Added: May 10, 2012
  • Length: 29:01
  • Purchases: 1
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In this special anthology, we explore how women writers foster community across boundaries. Novelist Lisa See shares stories about Chinese women wr...

Bought by WRKF and WJCU

  • Added: Mar 21, 2012
  • Length: 29:01
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Poet Jeanne Marie Beaumont's books include CURIOUS CONDUCT and PLACEBO EFFECTS, and her collection, BURNING OF THE THREE FIRES. She assembles ever...

Bought by WJCU

  • Added: Mar 09, 2012
  • Length: 29:01
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Lorraine Lopez
Fiction writer Lorraine Lopez was a 2010 finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, with her collection HOMICIDE SURVIVORS PICNIC AND OTHER STORIES. She...

  • Added: Jan 12, 2012
  • Length: 29:00
Caption: Michelle Boisseau
Poet Michelle Boisseau talks about her collection A SUNDAY IN GOD-YEARS, which examines borders between black and white, free and slave, living and...

  • Added: Jan 02, 2012
  • Length: 29:00
Caption: Robert Bly
Esteemed poet and translator, Robert Bly, is joined by sitarist David Whetstone in this public reading for the Midwest Poets Series. Bly reads a ...

Bought by KFAI Minneapolis

  • Added: Dec 28, 2011
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Sapphire
Poet and fiction writer Sapphire, best-known for her novel PUSH, which became the award-winning film PRECIOUS, reads from her 2011 novel, THE KID, ...

Bought by WCSU-FM

  • Added: Nov 16, 2011
  • Length: 29:01
  • Purchases: 1
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Episode 5 features former poet laureates Anthony Hecht, Maxine Kumin, Reed Whittemore, and newly appointed laureate Donald Hall.

Bought by WCPN, WFHB, North Country Public Radio, Yellowstone Public Radio, KRUA and more

  • Added: Jul 27, 2006
  • Length: 01:04:05
  • Purchases: 8
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Episode 4 features Howard Nemerov, Billy Collins and William Stafford. Optional 5-minute drop-in also available.

Bought by WCPN, WCAI / WNAN Cape & Islands, Mass., WFHB, KWIT, North Country Public Radio and more

  • Added: Apr 04, 2006
  • Length: 01:04:04
  • Purchases: 12