Chris Maccini

Born in El Paso, Texas, Luis J. Rodriguez grew up in Watts and East Los Angeles. A gang member and drug user at the age of twelve, by the time he turned eighteen, Rodríguez had lost twenty-five of his friends to gang violence, drug overdoses, shootings, and suicide. He’s the author of two award-winning autobiographical accounts of his experiences with gang violence and addiction, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing and Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. 

Rodriguez is also the author of several other books of poetry and prose, including most recently, From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, journeys and imaginings from a native Xicanx writer.

Spokane Public Library

Artists are often inspired by their surroundings. Some are lucky enough to work in places that feed their imaginations. Others, though, struggle to find ample space to create their art.

Spokane's public libraries and schools are developing a new building with studios they'll offer for artists to work.


In part four of four Chris Maccini shares reflections from Tod Marshall and those who have been impacted by his service as Poet Laureate. 

Marshall reflects in written form, in his article in The Inlander

This program first aired in February, 2018.

In part two of four Chris Maccini shares reflections from Tod Marshall and those who have been impacted by his service as Poet Laureate. 

Tod Marshall reflects in written form, in his article in The Inlander

This program first aired in February, 2018

Get Lit! is Spokane's annual literary festival, hosted by Eastern Washington University. The festival will be held online April 12th-18th and nearly all events can be viewed for free from the comfort of your own home. The full festival schedule is at

In this special Get Lit! preview, we'll hear an interview with festival organizers Kate Peterson and Claire Walla, plus readings from some 2021 festival authors.

Melissa Heale

Kate Lebo is the author of the cookbook, Pie School and the poetry chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She's also the coeditor with Samuel Ligon of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze as well as cohost of the popular Pie & Whiskey events at Spokane's Get Lit! festival and elsewhere. 

Kate Lebo’s new book is The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (With Recipes). She’ll be hosting a multi-bookstore virtual release extravaganza with Auntie's, Third Place Books, Village Books, and Browser's books on Monday April 5th, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Tracy K. Smith's poetry collection, Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and from 2017 to 2019, she served as Poet Laureate of the United States. She has also published a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her newest collection of poetry is Wade in the Water, published in 2018. Public Radio listeners may also recognize her voice as the host of The Slowdown, a radio program and podcast which invited listeners to see the world in a different way, through poetry. 

Smith is a professor at Princeton University and on Wednesday, March 10th, she'll be hosting a virtual event with Spokane Community College’s Hagan Center for the Humanities speakers series “Diversity Dialogues, Conversations About Race and Equity."

Melanie Dunea

Kevin Young is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker. From 2016-2020 he served as the director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently, the poetry collection Brown and the nonfiction book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts & Fake News. He is also the editor of the anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song.

Young was a featured in the Spokane Community College’s Hagan Center for the Humanities  "Diversity Dialogues: Conversations About Race and Equity."

Blue Flower Arts

Claudia Rankine, a poet, essayist and professor at Yale University. Her 2014 book Citizen: An American Lyric which explores the relentless, personal effects of microaggressions and everyday racism was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. In her latest book, Just Us:An American Conversation, Rankine sets out to have uncomfortable conversations with white people about race and how (or whether) they perceive their own whiteness. 

 Using funds from her 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, Rankine founded the The Racial Imaginary Institute, an interdisciplinary center for writers, artists, and scholars to examine artists' whiteness and race as social constructs. She was the 20201 year’s guest for Gonzaga University’s 4th Annual Race & Racism Lecture.

When Gonzaga University professor Tod Marshall began helping to plan the university's 4th Annual Race and Racism Lecture, he decided to do something different. The former state poet laureate wanted to include as many people as possible after a summer of racial justice protests and a contentious election. So he reached out to local teachers to engage high school students in advance of Wednesday's lecture.

Kathryn Smith a poet and mixed media artist based in Spokane, WA. She is the author of the poetry collection Book of Exodus and the chapbook Chosen Companions of the Goblin. Her newest collection Self-Portrait with Cephalopod, won Copper Nickel’s 2019 Jake Adam York Prize, and will be released by Milkweed Editions on February 9th, 2021

Daudi Abe is a Seattle-based professor, writer, and historian who has taught and written about culture, race, gender, education, communication, hip-hop, and sports for over 20 years. His latest book is Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle. Abe is one of this year’s speakers at the Hagan Center for the Humanities at Spokane Community College for their series: Diversity Dialogues: Conversations About Race and Equity.

Marlon James is the author of four novels including A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and most recently Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. The novel is the first in a planned epic fantasy trilogy set in an ancient, mythical Africa. A profile in the New Yorker called it a novel that “counters the dominant impression of the genre it inhabits. Instead of kings with swords and flaxen-haired princesses, the novel contains pitch-skinned witches haloed in bees, and vampires that turn your blood into blue lightning, and demons that come screeching across rooftops in the dark.”

 James is the first of this year’s Hagan Center Speakers Series presented by Community Colleges of Spokane. The topic this year is "Diversity Dialogues: Conversations About Race and Equity.” Marlon James will be hosting a live virtual event on Wednesday, January 20th at 5 p.m. Spokane Public Radio is the Speaker Series’ media partner.

Penguin Random House

A. Kendra Greene is a writer and artist who has worked at the Chicago History museum, the University of Iowa museum and the Dallas Museum of art, where was a writer in residence. She holds an MFA in nonfiction and a graduate certificate in book arts from the University of Iowa, and she lives in Dallas where she is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas. 

Greene’s latest book is The Museum of Whales You’ll Never See, a collection of essays and drawings recounting her excursions to some of the most unusual museums in Iceland including the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which boasts a collection of penises from every mammal known to exist in the country and the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft.

Greene is the first of this year’s Visiting Writers at Eastern Washington University. She’ll be hosting a virtual event, open to the public on Friday, November 13th at 7:30 p.m.

The State of Washington has sponsored an official poet laureate since 2007, but for the current poet laureate, Claudia Castro Luna, the past year has been unlike any other in state history. 

Rajah Bose

Jess Walter's new novel, The Cold Millions is set in Spokane during the labor disputes of the early 20th century. Hailed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as "A Scorsese-esque period piece, populated by cops, drunks, variety girls, temperance ladies, job sharks, Pinkertons, and Wobblies” The novel follows two adventure seeking brothers, the wealthy enemies who threaten them, and the women who reveal to them an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

Jess Walter lives in his hometown, Spokane, and he joined SPR's Chris Maccini to talk about the new novel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all types of businesses, but perhaps none more significantly than live music venues, which have remained closed throughout Washington since March 15th. A new statewide effort is looking to help those businesses pay their bills.

Vanessa Veselka. She is the author of the novel Zazen, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction. Her new novel is The Great Offshore Grounds, a sweeping story of a family drama tackling social status, death, love, femininity, American greed and mythology, the current state of the US healthcare system, sky-high rents, and the struggle to get by.


It’s not often that a short story, written by a local author and first published in a local anthology gets optioned by a Hollywood production company to be made into a feature film. But that’s just what’s happened to Spokane author Leyna Krow.


As coronavirus restrictions continue, more and more organizations are getting used to moving events online. This Friday, July 31st, Terrain, the nonprofit arts organization in Spokane, is hosting a virtual gallery show titled, “Express Yourself.” The live event is the culmination of a month-long project to showcase the work of artists of color in the Inland Northwest.


A new mural is being painted this summer on the 100 North block alley between Howard and Wall streets in downtown Spokane. Jiemei Lin is a Pullman, Washington-based artist and graphic designer, originally from China. Her new mural consists of two panels, each showing a child diving into a swimming pool. One scene takes place at night and the other during a bright summer day. The design is meant to celebrate global connections.

Last fall, we brought you the story of Feast World Kitchen, a new Spokane restaurant featuring a rotating menu from immigrant and refugee chefs. As part of our occasional series, Refugee Stories, we followed up to see how Feast is faring amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Twenty-four year-old Carter Hudson is a musician and songwriter known during non-COVID times for his weekly performances at The Drinkery, a bar located in Spokane’s historic Garland District. His submission to this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest is an intimately shot video featuring Hudson alone in his bedroom, surrounded by guitars. The lyrics to the song, titled “I Can’t Hear You Anymore,” are personal.

Last week, we brought you the story of Coeur d’Alene musician Jackson Roltgen and his submission to this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest. This week, Spokane Public Radio’s Chris Maccini talks with another young musician, this time from Spokane, who also submitted a video for the national contest.

Watch Carter Hudson's full YouTube video submission here.

Each year since 2014, NPR has invited musicians from around the country to submit video performances of original songs for its Tiny Desk Contest. It’s an offshoot of the popular Tiny Desk Concert video series in which well known and obscure musicians perform at Bob Boilen’s desk at NPR headquarters. 

Quinn Russell Brown



Small businesses across the country have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as have artists and musicians. A virtual event this Saturday [today] is bringing the two together with big name musical acts supporting communities across the country, including here in the Inland Northwest.

Spokane Poetry Slam

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many events to move online, and the Spokane Poetry Slam is no exception. They’ve been hosting their monthly event online since March. But this Thursday, in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in Spokane and around the world, they’re hosting a special open mic, virtually of course.

Katie Patterson Larson

It’s graduation time for Spokane area schools. But with in person events such as graduation ceremonies and prom cancelled, the community is finding new ways to celebrate this year.

Brooke Matson is a poet and book artist in Spokane, Washington, where she is the executive director of Spark Central, a non-profit dedicated to igniting creativity, innovation, and imagination. Eight years of teaching and mentoring at-risk youth deepened her study of physical science and the psychological effects of violence and loss. 

Matson's second collection of poetry, In Accelerated Silence, was selected by Mark Doty as winner of the Jake Adam York Prize and has just been published by Milkweed Editions. 

photo by Grace June (2019)

Erin Pringle is the author of a novel, Hezada! I Miss You (forthcoming Awst Press, 2020) and two short story collections, The Whole World at Once (West Virginia University Press/Vandalia Press 2017) and The Floating Order (Two Ravens Press, 2009). She has written three chapbooks: "How The Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble" (The Head and The Hand Press, Philadelphia/2015); "The Lightning Tree" (Underground Voices, 2015); and "The Wandering House" (Awst Press, Austin/2016).