501 Life Magazine | UCA writing professor to present radio program
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UCA writing professor to present radio program

Tune in to 89.1 FM at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, for KUAR’s radio program Arts & Letters, featuring University of Central Arkansas writing professor Mark Spitzer.

This 29-minute episode “What the Hellbender Salamander!” produced for NPR-member station KUAR highlights Spitzer’s newest literary eco-effort, Glurk! A Hellbender Odyssey, about North America’s largest amphibian: the hellbender salamander.

The book, published by Anaphora Literary Press, explores and celebrates the endangered creature, which can be found in Ozark streams and rivers in Northern Arkansas and parts of southern Missouri.  

Spitzer writes: “The plight of this amphibian — an evolutionary phenomenon — has as much to say about humans and our relationship with the natural world as it does about Cryptobranchus alleganiensis itself!"

The book was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is an avant-garde epic poem — part scientific narrative, part bender biology, part neologism-filled lyric, part ecological mosaic — and in it we even hear from a misunderstood salamander, tagged B-14. The radio show takes the listener on an environmental journey, not only describing the hellbender salamander and its nomenclature but also discussing its habitat, its numerous predators and extensive preservation efforts across the country.

Original music is provided by R. Ring’s Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery, Joey Kneiser with Kelly Smith, Gallows Bound,  AmyJo Savannah, Open Fields, Randall Shreve, Kinderfunken, John Burnette, and Spitzer himself — who plays the electric hellbender, a whacky musical instrument designed out of a Fender Stratocaster, drainage tubing and uncooked lasagna noodles.

Spitzer is the author of 25 books, including fish books, novels, memoirs, translations and collections of poetry. According to Spitzer, “the Ozark hellbender is a rare and fascinating species right here in Arkansas, a barometer of water quality that is currently in need of urgent attention. The gospel of GLURK! is intended to spread awareness and entertain an audience that values its natural heritage.”

GLURK! A Hellbender Odyssey is available at the UCA Bookstore, Amazon and online retailers.