Jacki Lyden

Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a substitute host on NPR. As a journalist who has been with NPR since 1979, Lyden regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories.

In the last five years, Lyden has reported from diverse locations including Paris, New York, the backstreets of Baghdad, the byways around rural Kentucky and spent time among former prostitutes in Nashville.

Most recently, Lyden focused her reporting on the underground, literally. In partnership with National Geographic, she and photographer Stephen Alvarez explored the catacombs and underground of the City of Light. The report of the expedition aired on Weekend Edition Sunday and was the cover story of the February 2011 National Geographic magazine.

Lyden's book, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, recounts her own experience growing up under the spell of a colorful mother suffering from manic depression. The memoir has been published in 11 foreign editions and is considered a memoir classic by The New York Times. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba has been in process as a film, based upon a script by the A-list writer, Karen Croner. She is working on a sequel to the book which will be about memory and what one can really hold on to in a tumultuous life.

Along with Scott Simon, current host of Weekend Edition Saturday, and producer Jonathan Baer, Lyden helped to pioneer NPR's Chicago bureau in 1979. Ten years later, Lyden became NPR's London correspondent and reported on the IRA in Northern Ireland.

In the summer of 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Lyden went to Amman, Jordan, where she covered the Gulf War often traveling to and reporting from Baghdad and many other Middle Eastern cites. Her work supported NPR's 1991 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Gulf War coverage. Additionally, Lyden has reported from countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Iran. In 1995, she did a groundbreaking series for NPR on Iran on the emerging civil society and dissent, called "Iran at the Crossroads."

At home in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001, Lyden was NPR's first reporter on the air from New York that day. She shared in NPR's George Foster Peabody Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Lyden later covered the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Lyden and producer Davar Ardalan received the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio and Television for best foreign documentary for "Loss and Its Aftermath." The film was about bereavement among Palestinians and Jews in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

That same year Lyden hosted the "National Story Project" on Weekend All Things Considered with internationally-acclaimed novelist Paul Auster. The book that emerged from the show, I Thought My Father Was God, became a national bestseller.

Over the years, Lyden's articles have been publications such as Granta, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a popular speaker, especially on mental health.

A graduate of Valparaiso University, Lyden was given an honorary Ph.D. from the school in 2010. She participated in Valparaiso's program of study at Cambridge University and was a 1991-92 Benton Fellow in Middle East studies at the University of Chicago.

The Seams
4:14 am
Sat October 11, 2014

'Schiaparelli': The Shocking, Shadowed Life Of A Fashion Icon

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 12:20 pm

Elsa Schiaparelli, known as the Queen of Fashion, was the supreme innovator of dress design in the first half of the 20th century. Based in Paris, she seemed to know what women wanted before anyone else, says author Meryle Secrest. But Secrest's new Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography begins with the designer's emotionally starved, lonely childhood in a vast palazzo in Rome.

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The Seams
1:30 am
Thu September 4, 2014

For 'Women In Clothes,' It's Not What You Wear, It's Why You Wear It

Artist Miranda July contributed a series of photos in which strangers try on one another's favorite outfits.
Michael Schmelling Courtesy of Blue Rider Press

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 3:36 pm

It can be hard to talk about clothes in an intelligent way. Fashion critic Kennedy Fraser once wrote in The New Yorker that the act of donning a garment can seem almost furtive or trivial, something beneath debate or intellectual content. The editors of Women in Clothes would agree that it's a challenge. The book collects essays, conversations, pictures and testimonials from more than 600 women talking about how clothes shape or reflect them as human beings.

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The Seams
3:31 am
Sat June 28, 2014

A Modern Twist On Mexican Tradition Hits The Runway

(Left) Mayan artisans from the Yucatan region hand-embroidered an armadillo onto this linen dress from Carla Fernández's Mayalands collection. (Right) This Fernandez dress is a traditional rebozo shape which honors the square root design of ancient patterns.
Ramiro Chaves/Courtesy Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 4:36 pm

In a small shed in Tenancingo, Mexico, partly open to the sky, about a half-dozen men stand behind huge wooden looms. They pedal side-by-side, their churning feet making a beautiful harmony as they craft handmade rebozos.

Rebozos, long rectangular shawls that came into style in Mexico in the 16th century, and the huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse or dress of pre-Columbian origin, are the main elements of Mexican traditional dress.

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The Seams
1:07 am
Thu May 8, 2014

The Art Of A Lost American Couturier, On Display At The Met

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 2:32 pm

Thursday in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art officially reopens its fashion galleries after a $40 million, two-year renovation.

Named for Vogue magazine's editor, the Anna Wintour Costume Center features an inaugural exhibit of the work of Charles James, a flamboyant designer considered America's first couturier. This caps days of glamorous events at the Met, including the Costume Institute's benefit gala, presided over by Wintour — with Hollywood stars.

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Pop Culture
3:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

'Baby Jane' Holzer's Flight From High Society To Warhol Superstar

Socialite and actress Baby Jane Holzer, seen here in 1966, was one of artist Andy Warhol's first superstars.
Harry Benson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 10:21 am

In the mid-1960s, society was changing; shaking off old ideas and trying on new ones for size. There were changes on the political front, like the civil rights movement and the looming war in Vietnam, as well as on the cultural front, with new celebrities popping up on TV every night.

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Opinion
10:14 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Violence Abroad Threatens Students, As Do Guns At U.S. Schools

This handout provided by the Santa Monica Police Department shows ammunition, magazines and guns believed to have been dropped by a suspected gunman during a mass shooting at Santa Monica College in June 2013.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:06 am

Last year, there were more than two-dozen shootings on or near college campuses in the United States. This past Tuesday, that number went up, with the fatal shooting of a student at Purdue University. Then Friday, a fatal shooting at South Carolina State University. It will, of course, tick up again.

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Remembrances
3:04 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Poems As 'Stepping Stones': Remembering Seamus Heaney

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 4:18 pm

The poet Seamus Heaney died Friday. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and has been described as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats." Heaney was 74 years old. Host Jacki Lyden spoke to Heaney in 2008, and has this remembrance.

Books
2:52 pm
Sun August 25, 2013

'Heart' Of Iranian Identity Reimagined For A New Generation

In "The Nightmare of Siavosh," the young exiled Iranian prince dreams of his impending demise. Upon waking, he tells his wife, Farigis, about his fears regarding the tragic events to come.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 5:14 am

A thousand years ago, a Persian poet named Abolqasem Ferdowsi of Tous obtained a royal commission to put the ancient legends and myths of Iran into a book of verse.

He called this epic Shahnameh, or "Epic of the Persian Kings." It took him more than three decades and comprises 60,000 couplets — twice the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined.

Author Azar Nafisi, who wrote the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says the importance of this foundational myth epic to Iranians can't really be overstated.

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Arts & Life
3:10 pm
Sat August 10, 2013

Audio As Art At New York Exhibit

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF ARPEGGIO)

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Arpeggios ricochet through three speakers and envelop us. We're on the modernist Bauhaus staircase at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, listening to techno-inspired electronica. This piece is part of a new exhibit, "Soundings: A Contemporary Score," that opens today.

BARBARA LONDON: I wanted work that pushed limits, pushed boundaries.

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History
3:10 pm
Sat August 10, 2013

Florida's Highwaymen Painted Idealized Landscapes In Jim Crow South

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In the winter of 2012, I came across a story on a drive through central coastal Florida in the town of Fort Pierce. Route 1 is now dominated by strip malls and fading condos, but the Florida of the 1950s and '60s was a candy-colored Eisenhower, Kennedy space-age dream of flaming red Poinciana trees and untamed beaches.

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Arts & Life
4:29 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Bespoke Suits And Perfect Cravats At 'Dandy' Exhibit

Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2012. Ike Ude, photographer. In his Sartorial Anarchy self-portraits, New York-based Nigerian-born artist Ike Ude creates composite images of the dandy across geography and chronology. Ude photographs himself in disparate ensembles, pairing, for example, a copy of an 18th-century Macaroni wig with other carefully selected vintage garments and reproductions.
Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery Ike Ude

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 8:43 am

When you hear the word dandy, what do you think of?

Maybe the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and compares the colonists to foppish, effeminate idiots: the dandies.

But a summer exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, closing Aug. 18, aims to reclaim the term. It explores dandyism through the ages, linking to the cutting edge of men's fashion and style. The name of the show is "Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Men of Fashion" — which does still leave you wondering what you might see.

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Commentary
1:18 pm
Sun October 28, 2012

Around The River Bend, A Flood Of History

The Ho-Chunk Indians still consider the river to be sacred, and it's easy to feel that calm, floating along the Bark.
Liam O'Leary

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 5:41 pm

The Bark River is my backyard, childhood river. And yet, in a lifetime of travel, I'd never explored it.

I knew it carved the land from the Ice Age to settlement times, from the Black Hawk War of 1832 (in which young Abraham Lincoln appears) to the era of grist mills. But the Bark also flows past impressive Indian mounds. It nurtured poets, naturalists and farmers.

When former Marquette University professor Milton Bates published his Bark River Chronicles through the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I jumped at the chance to learn about the river with him.

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Fine Art
2:40 pm
Sat September 22, 2012

The Landscape Art Legacy Of Florida's Highwaymen

Alfred Hair, Harold Newton, Al Black, James Gibson and Mary Ann Carroll were all part of the original Highwaymen.
Photos by Gary Monroe

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 2:54 pm

If you traveled by way of Florida's Route 1 in the '60s and '70s, you might have encountered young African-American landscape artists selling oil paintings of an idealized, candy-colored, Kennedy-era Florida. They painted palms, beaches, poinciana trees and sleepy inlets on drywall canvases — and they came to be known as the Highwaymen. The group made thousands of pictures, until the market was saturated, tastes changed, and the whole genre dwindled.

Roadside Innovation

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Southword
1:15 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Meet Al Black: Florida's Prison Painter

Al Black is one of Florida's 26 officially recognized "Highwaymen" — a loosely affiliated group of artists who began painting in the 1960s, some of whom are still at it today.
Courtesy of Gary Monroe

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 8:25 pm

In the 1960s, Al Black could be found cruising up and down Route 1 in his blue-and-white Ford Galaxy — with a trunk full of wet landscape paintings.

At the time, he was a salesman who could snatch your breath away and sell it back to you. As artist Mary Ann Carroll puts it, he could "sell a jacket to a mosquito in summer."

"A salesman is a con-man," Black readily admits himself today. He's a storyteller. And does he have stories to tell.

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Arts & Life
10:24 am
Wed July 4, 2012

The Highwaymen: Segregation And Speed-Painting In The Sunshine State

Courtesy of Gary Monroe

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 2:03 pm

In the 1960s and '70s, if you were in a doctor's office, or a funeral home, or a motel in Florida, chances are a landscape painting hung on the wall. Palms arching over the water, or moonlight on an inlet. Tens of thousands of paintings like this were created by a group of self-taught African-American artists, concentrated in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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Arts & Life
3:08 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Art, Race And Murder: The Origins Of Florida's 'Highwaymen'

The top painting, by A.E. Backus, suggests his influence on The Highwaymen, including his pupil Alfred Hair. Hair painted the landscape below.
Courtesy of the A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 11:59 am

The story of The Highwaymen is one of biracial friendships and lingering racism, of painting and a murder — culminating in a contemporary clash over an artistic legacy.

Only loosely allied, they are credited with churning out some 200,000 landscape paintings in the area of Fort Pierce, Fla., since the 1960s. The strategy behind their enterprise: Paint a lot, and paint fast. Often, the oil paintings were sold before they had even dried. And a teenager named Alfred Hair was the mastermind behind the whole operation.

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Arts & Life
2:03 pm
Sun June 17, 2012

Chanticleer: A Botanical Distraction From Daily Life

Chanticleer is a historical estate and garden in Wayne, Pa., part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia.
Courtesy of the Lyden family

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 1:19 pm

Ever wanted to just disappear into a secret garden of earthly delights, of twists and turns of evocative ruin, exuberant tropics, the Zen of a Japanese teahouse?

Consider Chanticleer, in Wayne, Pa. It's part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia. In fact, right across the street from the garden is the former home of Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, the heiress portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story.

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Arts & Life
4:10 am
Sat February 25, 2012

Athena's Library, The Quirky Pillar Of Providence

Chilean artist Magaly Ponce looks out from the mezzanine at the Oscar Wilde party at the Providence Athenaeum.
NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:02 am

With a bit of reverence, librarians carefully wind an antique library clock near the circulation desk in a temple of learning called the Providence Athenaeum.

This is one of the oldest libraries in the United States, a 19th-century library with the soul of a 21st-century rave party. In fact, the Rhode Island institution has been called a national model for civic engagement.

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Around the Nation
4:16 am
Sat December 31, 2011

Iraqi Refugees Struggle For Peace In America

Hesham Abdul Ghani and his wife, Oras Touma, came to Michigan to escape religious persecution.
Jacki Lyden NPR

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 8:17 pm

The Iraq War may be officially over, but for thousands of Iraqis who fled to America during the conflict, there's no going home. Many left successful careers to settle in Detroit, where finding their future is a challenge.

The U.N. estimates several million Iraqis are now refugees — either inside Iraq or outside the country. Almost 60,000 of them have come to the Detroit metro area since 2006, drawn by the large Arab community that's been there for years.

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Opinion
3:47 pm
Fri December 30, 2011

The Simple Joys Of An Old-Fashioned Datebook

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 8:05 am

What if you could hold on to time in your hands? You can, you know. You can crack open, on this New Year's Eve, the unsullied, unhurried, un-trammeled pages of an old-fashioned datebook — the kind that still arranges seven days into a week; the kind you write in with a pen and which never, ever, beeps at you to remind you of a meeting or errand.

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