Montanan You Should Know: Lauren Korn

Host of MTPR's "The Write Question"

Lauren Korn

THE BEST PART ABOUT HOSTING THE WRITE QUESTION IS: that I get to do something I know (read, have conversations with authors about their work, utilize my connections in the publishing industry) in conjunction with something I know very little about (radio—I’m still so new to it, and I have a lot to learn!). In that sense, it’s the best kind of job to have. There are equal levels of comfort and discomfort when I get in front of the mic every week.

MY FAVORITE KIND OF BOOK TO READ IS: one that skirts genre in interesting ways. I received my M.A. in poetry, and I began studying writing seriously as an undergrad by writing non-fiction; but I find that the books and the writing that I’m drawn to most are those that refuse categorization— whether that’s refusing to be called poetry and prose, or whether it’s what we know to be “creative” writing and “academic” or “scholarly” work bucking those constraints.

I FEEL MONTANA IS DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER STATE BECAUSE: it holds as large of a place in the imagination as it does physical space. Montana is made up of vast landscapes, both mountainous and prairie, and the way that writers have written about Montana, and the way that Montana sits in the imagination(s) of the rest of the world, rivals that beauty and that vastness.

THE BEST MONTANA-CENTRIC BOOKS I'VE EVER READ ARE: Oof. “Best” and “ever” are such intimidating words! Here’s a partial list: Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling; Winter by Rick Bass; Another Attempt at Rescue by M.L. Smoker; The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo (Hugo, this book, and Montana are inextricable in my mind); Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt; The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth; Badluck Way by Bryce Andrews… I also really love my copy of Roadside History of Montana by Don Spritzer. (I will have a different answer to this prompt every day of the week, I think.)

THE THING ABOUT BEING ON THE RADIO THAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T EXPECT IS: I’m not sure what most people expect, but for me, I was surprised at how my voice became so easily disembodied, so separate from my ideas about myself—my literal voice, my personality, and the way that I conduct or articulate myself. I’ve had to put aside many facets of my ego in order to begin to feel comfortable in this role, and that comfort is still slow-growing.

OTHER THAN BOOKS, MY FAVORITE THING TO READ IS: horoscopes. Admittedly, my adherence to what was once a daily routine of seeking out advice from the cosmos has waned, but I do love a well-crafted and clever horoscope. Co—Star, an app that has gotten very popular in the last two years, is probably my favorite, but I can be seduced by horoscopes found in daily newspapers and glossy magazines, too.

WHEN I'VE FINALLY HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH READING AND I NEED TO DO SOMETHING ELSE TO RELAX I’LL: work with my hands. I don’t know that I’ve ever “had it up to here with reading,” but I’ve been taking wheel-throwing lessons from Missoula-based ceramicist Courtney Murphy, and it’s been an immense joy to take a break from screens and the long work week, to get my hands muddy with clay.

THE BIGGEST REASON WHY EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SHOULD LISTEN TO THE WRITE QUESTION IS: that it’s an extension of the enthusiasm that Missoula, and Montana broadly, has for literature. I think it was Humanities Montana’s Kim Anderson that once said Montana “punches above its weight,” and The Write Question is, and aims to be, a part of that literary force.

THE ONE BOOK THAT EVERYONE IN THE WEST SHOULD READ IS: Perma Red, by Debra Magpie Earling. I’d also make the case that any book that challenges perceptions of “the West” should be read. Books like C Pam Zhang’s How Much Of These Hills Is Gold will continue to be essential to a contemporary understanding of this region and a necessary “re-writing” of its history.

OTHER THAN THE WRITTEN WORD, MY FAVORITE ART FORM IS: typography and type-setting. I love a beautiful book cover, definitely, but I admire anything that uses type in pleasing and innovative ways.

NO ONE WOULD SUSPECT THAT I: am not technically a native Montanan. My fraternal twin sister, Alicia, and I were born three months early, when our mom was air-lifted to Salt Lake City, Utah, so that she could deliver us safely. My birth certificate may not read “Montana,” but I’m a Montanan, through and through.

The Write Question

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