Arts & Culture

• Check out our list of New Hampshire museums, galleries, performance venues & independent bookstores, sorted by region.

• You can also find art exhibits, book readings, live music and more on our Public Events Calendar.

Kate Ter Haar via Flickr CC /

In 2014, Southeast Asian was the new "it" cuisine. Then it was southern Mediterranean, then Peruvian... Now simple, "back to the land" cooking is decidedly on-trend. So why aren't locavores swarming around Native American cuisine? Today on the show, the challenges of branding America's truly native food.

Then, in some of its darkest hours, America has turned to superhero comics for an escape - so have the nation's citizens. We speak to the editor of an anthology exploring the relationship between writers and the heroes who inspired them.  

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Donald Hall is now 87 and no longer writing poetry, a pursuit he calls "a young man's game" which takes "too much testosterone." But Hall, former Poet Laureate of both New Hampshire and the United States, long ago cemented his place in literary history. In this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, Virginia and Sara traveled to Hall's home in Wilmot, NH, to speak to him - getting lost along the way, and, ultimately, finding themselves right at home.

Sheila Sund via Flickr CC /

These days just about every coffee shop, bookstore, and restaurant touts offers free wi-fi to its customers - but at what cost? Today, we'll find out the hidden dangers of public wi-fi.

Later, the road to become a professional wine sommelier is tough – it’s filled with endless taste-tests, and requires an expansive understanding of geography, and an incredibly sensitive palate. But how exactly does one become a water sommelier? We'll meet America's only one and talk about his restaurant, which features a 44-page water menu.

In his new book, Dead Presidents, NHPR's Brady Carlson unearths the offbeat and wacky ways we've memorialized our Commanders-in-Chief, from a laxative drink called Garfield tea to a game called Hooverball.

  This program was originally broadcast on 2/25/16.

Karin Dalziel via Flickr CC /

Identifying potential terrorists is crucial to thwarting future attacks. The challenge is discerning real threats from bravado. Today on the show, how do security analysts survey thoughts?

Then, we’ll learn about two young men who embarked on a bold crime spree, stealing thousands of dollars worth of gold and weapons right in front of their victims…the hitch? It all went down in a video game.

Chris Ball via Flickr CC /

Last year, President Obama toured a federal prison in Oklahoma - an unprecedented move for a sitting president and a clear sign of the administration's focus on criminal justice reform. Among its proposed reforms is a call to "ban the box" – which would move or remove questions about a job applicant's criminal history. Today, should the box also be banned from college applications?

Then, hip hop has been key to the runaway success of Hamilton...suddenly people are rapping about American history. Now, an educator and lyricist is applying that formula to the classroom. 

Bookish: A Celebration of Books

Jun 27, 2016

We're trying something a little different today on the show. In nine short chapters, we present the life cycle of a book -- the cliff notes version. You'll hear tales, tips and anecdotes on all sorts of odd parts of the process - from pitching a publisher to crafting the perfect blurb, and everywhere in between.

So whether you're an aspiring writer, an avid reader, a constant procrastinator, or an audiobooks aficionado - there's a little something for everybody.  

How To Pitch A Book Agent

Jun 27, 2016
Photo: Jessica Lund/National Library of Sweden / via flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps you’ve had the idea for a novel or memoir floating around in your head for years. Maybe your first draft is already finished! Now, it’s time for the most intimidating part - pitching your idea to an agent or publisher. In anticipation of our book show, we asked listeners to submit their 150-word book pitches and in turn, we sent them to Michelle Brower, a literary agent with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

In Conversation With Richard Russo

Jun 24, 2016
Camille Gévaudan via Wikimedia Commonc CC

Today, a conversation with Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman as Donald "Sully" Sullivan -  a quick-witted under-achiever eking out a living in a decaying factory town.

6.23.16: How We Can Be More Nordic & Citizen Khan

Jun 23, 2016
Valerio Fuoglio via Flickr CC /

Bernie Sanders’ proposals for free education and healthcare were flatly rejected by those who said "we are not Denmark". A new book argues that the policies and protections in Nordic countries don't work because of shared benevolence, but because they benefit everyone's selfish interests. Today, a Finnish expat gives the US a pep talk.

Then, Zarif Khan migrated to America in the early 20th century and became prosperous and beloved in his Wyoming town...though the law prevented his citizenship.

In Conversation With Russell Banks

Jun 20, 2016

Russell Banks is one of contemporary fiction's most acclaimed writers. With six short story collection and more than a dozen novels to his credit, Banks has portrayed the hard scrabble lives of people hemmed in by class, race and geography. 

Virginia sat down with Russell Banks in front of a live audience at the Shapiro Library and Learning Commons at Southern New Hampshire University. The event commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the SNHU's Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Non-Fiction program. 

Charles Wheelan on What Money Is and Why It Matters

Jun 17, 2016
alisonbowden14 / Flickr/CC

In his new book, economist Charles Wheelan untangles our complex monetary and banking systems, and why they've veered toward disaster at multiple points throughout our history.  Wheelan also highlights the role individuals, as well a financial institutions, have played in spurring economic prosperity and adversity.

Writers On A New England Stage: Patti Smith

Jun 14, 2016
(C) Hear and There Photography, CC BY 4.0 /

On today's show, it's Writers on a New England Stage with Patti Smith, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. A poet, musician, and photographer, Smith is often called “the godmother of punk”. She co-wrote the radio hit "Because the Night" with Bruce Springsteen, but soon afterward she stepped off stage to move to Detroit and raise her family. It was with the publication of Just Kids in 2010 that she transformed from downtown cult figure to National Book Award-winning writer. 

American Dueling Grounds, Chuck Klosterman, & SpaceX

Jun 10, 2016
Nat Welch /

Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University via Flickr CC /

In July, nutrition fact labels  will see their first major overhaul in twenty years. Among the changes, a jumbo version of the calorie number - three times bigger than the rest of the listed information. Today, if we focus too much on calories, do we miss the bigger problem?

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Michael Garcia Novak / Flickr/CC

Even with all the angst about mid-life crises, and birthday cards calling you over the hill, the author says the middle years are most often about renewal. Today we're talking with former NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty on what she discovered about middle age in America.

Richard Russo is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool - both were adapted into films starring Paul Newman. He returns to the fictional working class town of North Bath for his most recent novel, Everybody's Fool.

Richard Russo photo by Elena Seibert

This event is Thursday, May 26th at 7:00pm at the Capital Center for the Arts. Check back for the radio version which will air at a later date on Word of Mouth. 

Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Empire Falls, but many people know him best as author of Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a movie with Paul Newman playing Donald "Sully" Sullivan, who spends much of his time in a dive bar in the fading factory town of North Bath, NY.

Writers on a New England Stage: Joe Hill

May 25, 2016
David J. Murray,

Joe Hill is the author of several short story collections, the Locke & Key comic book series, and best-selling novels The Heart-Shaped Box, NOS4A2, and Horns. He joined Virginia Prescott for a conversation for Writers on a New England Stage in Portsmouth on May 16, 2016.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

It’s not such a surprise anymore to see towns set up pianos on downtown sidewalks with the hope of getting people to stop and play and chat with each other. More than 50 cities around the world do it and in Littleton, New Hampshire, pianos have been on the streets for the past five years.

This spring, Nashua is setting up its own project with two painted pianos on Main Street. But is anyone playing?

Janet Chaney from Hollis is. There’s not much of a crowd here on the corner of Main Street and Pearl, so she tries to draw people closer to the bench.

emerysteele via Flickr CC /

The ad agency for Royal Caribbean chose a lively, catchy tune for a series of commercials for the cruise line, but it didn’t exactly match the wholesome, fun loving image they were trying to promote. On today’s show we’ll explore how the power of sound can make or break an experience.

Then, we’ll speak with the Israeli musician known as Kutiman, about crafting an album made entirely of unrelated sound samples from YouTube videos.

Scott Anderson via Flickr CC /

“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, people love dogs - but few pay attention to the most common variety - village dogs. We're speaking with two experts who have spent their lives traveling around the world and studying the truest essence of dog. 

We Want Your Pitches

May 5, 2016
Fredrik Rubensson via Flickr CC /

We've been working on an idea of an episode all about how books get made - from the first kernel of an idea, to selling the idea to an agent or publisher, to self-publishing to who writes those blurbs on the back of the final copy.

Kartik Anand via Flickr CC /

Homegrown terrorism, gun violence, Zika - there's plenty of real stuff to get freaked out about. So can America be 100% safe?  No, says a security expert slash mom, and your kids know it's not. But that's ok. Today, a former homeland security big wig refuses to be ruled by paranoia and offers tips on how to prepare your family for the unknown without becoming a prepper.

Plus, the true story of humble scholars-turned-smugglers to save rare books and manuscripts from sure destruction by Al Qaeda.

Word of Mouth Presents: The Song of the Day

May 3, 2016
Jacob Meltzer via Flickr CC /

Looking for something new to listen to today? Check out our Song of the Day, a new music feature designed to help you broaden your music horizons.

The Song of the Day features unique video or live stream performance content of emerging and established artists produced by a public media station.

Bookmark this page and check it daily to discover something new, hear what's trending, and find what just might become your next favorite earworm.

JDHRosewater via Flickr CC /

It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

Guy Sie via Flickr CC /

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years.  But now vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. Today, the history and science behind a mostly unregulated market.

Plus, can a dress shirt be racist?  An online retailer has come up with an algorithm they say ensures a near-perfect fit... But part of that data set includes ethnicity, prompting questions about the connection between ethnicity and biology.

4.18.16: Small Bombs & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 18, 2016
Todd Van Hoosear via Flickr CC /

In the age of global terrorism, some attacks get more attention than others. We got blanket coverage of coordinated bombs in Brussels, but little on explosions in Turkey just nine days before or the devastating suicide bomb in Iraq a week later. Today, the far-reaching effects of "small" bombs - those exploding in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities with alarming regularity that often go ignored.

Then, a writer reflects on her friendship with Robert Dunn, a character seemingly from another age, known as Portsmouth's Penny Poet.

Sandra via Flickr CC /

When we were growing up, eggs were eggs - packed by the dozen in cardboard cartons, consumers weren't all that picky about what they were taking home.  Walk into a grocery store today... And the choices are overwhelming. Today we decode grocery store egg labels.

Plus, a look at an app designed to split restaurant bills by inequality of wages based on gender and race.