Arts and culture

Notre Dame Professor Pounds Out The Poems

Apr 25, 2012

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from Sondra Byrnes, an associate professor of law and business. She says she's only been writing poetry for a year, but has written almost 1,700 poems. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

Sculptor Gerson Frank On Love And Art

Apr 25, 2012

The 89-year-old sculptor recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to view two of his pieces in a collection for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. But the trip gave him the chance to fulfill another dream: marrying his partner of more than 30 years. Frank speaks with host Michel Martin about his art and his marriage.

In Sequel To 'Drive,' Sallis Delivers A Thrill Ride

Apr 25, 2012

James Sallis says he had no intention of writing a sequel to Drive, his 2005 neo-noir thriller that, with the help of dreamy lead Ryan Gosling, later became one of the moodiest films of 2011. But after telling his agent as much over the phone one day, Sallis couldn't shake the vision of "a woman leaning against a wall, bleeding out," an image that eventually became the opening scene of Driven.

Celebrating Poem In Your Pocket Day

Apr 25, 2012

National Poetry Month may be coming to an end, but poetry lovers still have one big day to look forward to this April. This Thursday is Poem in Your Pocket Day. The idea is to tuck a favorite poem into your back pocket to share with family, friends and co-workers. Poetry lovers across the country have come up with clever ways to celebrate.

At Baggby's Gourmet Sandwiches in Charlottesville, Virginia, customers will find something different in their bag lunches. Owner Jon LaPanta explains.

I've never been much good at mornings. For most of my life, I prided myself on being a night owl, the type of gal who could always handle one more thing after midnight — another phone call, a few more pages of a novel, a last turn on the dance floor. For years, I even showered at night. And if, in the morning, I couldn't produce a civil word before my first sip of coffee, well, that was a small price to pay.

April showers bring May flowers, and in this case they bring us a selection from the garden for NPR's Backseat Book Club. Each month we ask young people to read a book along with us, and for this month, our pick is Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.

Our May book takes us on the most action-packed adventure yet for NPR's Backseat Book Club. In the Newbery Honor-winning Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, we meet 14-year-old Manjiro, a Japanese boy who works on a fishing boat. Manjiro looks out across the sea and wonders what lies there. "Barbarians live there," he's told.

Is the "culinary paparazzi" out of control? That's the message of a parody video by musical comedians The Key of Awesome.

Poker Player's Poem Offers A Winning Hand

Apr 24, 2012

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet from poet and poker player Joel Dias-Porter. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

As a little girl, Anna Quindlen wasn't afraid of a whole lot. She frequently got into trouble and occasionally shot off her mouth. But as she grew older, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer became what she calls a "girl imitation."

When you hear the words "Russian novel," you probably picture something as big and heavy as an anvil. Yet ever since the fall of communism, we've seen the ascent of Russian novelists who are shorter-winded and jauntier.

Press-Play Poetry: 'Failing And Flying'

Apr 24, 2012

Some poetry is meant to be heard as well as read. Press-Play Poetry is an occasional series that celebrates the power of the voice to bring lines on a page to life.

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Before mommy blogs and the now ubiquitous parenting columns about the life-work balance, there was "Life in the Thirties," Anna Quindlen's must-read New York Times column weighing in on everything from baby gear and baby sitters to flannel nightgowns and abortion. When Quindlen left newspaper journalism (and her Pulitzer Prize-winning "Public and Private" op-ed column, which succeeded "Life in the Thirties") to become a full-time novelist in 1995, many of her readers felt as if a close friend had suddenly stopped calling.

For a certain set of readers, one need only say the word "pigeon" to set off a frenzied outburst of delight. Pigeon is the star of a series of best-selling children's books, including The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog! and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! He's not much more than a stick figure with two circles for eyes, but he can still get huffy and display all the melodrama of a 4-year-old.

Hip Hop Author Freestyles In Haiku

Apr 23, 2012

As part of Tell Me More's series for National Poetry Month, host Michel Martin shares a poetic tweet, in the form of a haiku, from Scott Heath. He's a professor of African-American literature and black pop culture. Listeners are invited to tweet original poems of 140 characters or less to #TMMPoetry.

Jack Black: On Music, Mayhem And Murder

Apr 23, 2012

Actor Jack Black is best known for his comedic performances in films like Nacho Libre and School of Rock. In his latest film, Bernie, Black goes to a darker place: He plays a serious small-town funeral director who uncharacteristically murders his live-in companion, a wealthy widow played by Shirley MacLaine.

Sunday night's Mad Men took 20 minutes or so to reveal its structure. We watched Peggy Olson fight with her boyfriend, flame out at the Heinz presentation, take herself to the movies, smoke a joint with a stranger, hook up with him (after a fashion) in the dark, return to the office, hear the sad story of Michael Ginsburg, and then meet up with her boyfriend again. Only a mysterious, frantic phone call from Don suggested that there were pieces missing.

Manuel Munoz's first novel is What You See in the Dark.

Think Julianne Moore's take on Sarah Palin, or Meryl Streep's depiction of Margaret Thatcher.

Actors in biopics have a major leg up on writers when it comes to developing character. Even casual viewers can judge the performance a success if it mimics what we remember of the public persona.

With a helicopter buzzing overhead, the videotape of Rodney King's encounter with police is so famous, you could say he was beaten into American history: The image of him writhing in pain as several Los Angeles police officers repeatedly beat, kicked and tasered him is, by now, world-famous — and synonymous with abuse of power.

Children's books seem simple, but good ones are deceptively complicated to write and illustrate.

"Traditionally illustrated books are books where the text makes sense on its own. It doesn't necessarily need words," writer Martin Salisbury tells NPR's Renee Montagne, whereas with picture books, neither the text nor the images stand separately — they need each other.

India: A Country In The Midst Of Change

Apr 22, 2012

Akash Kapur is the son of an Indian father and an American mother. In 2003, after working professionally in New York City for more than a decade, he decided to return to India. As he writes in his book, India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India, he arrived in a place he hardly recognized.

Summer is coming, and with it comes big summer movies, stuffed full of computer-created aliens, monsters and giant explosions. Not all filmmakers want to use CGI, however, and many of them gathered to celebrate the craft of "practical effects" at a recent convention called Monsterpalooza in Burbank, Calif.

Sara Karloff is the daughter of one of the most famous movie monsters of all time: Boris Karloff. She says she never saw her father's Frankenstein makeup in person. "I'm awfully glad I didn't see him in those makeups," she says. "I would have probably been a damaged child."

Our Roaring 20s: 'The Defining Decade'

Apr 22, 2012

It's almost that time of year again, when a new crop of 20-something college graduates prepares to take those first steps into the working world.

In her new book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now, University of Virginia clinical psychologist Meg Jay argues that those first years of adulthood are the most important time in a young person's life.

Jay recently joined NPR's Rachel Martin to discuss why the 20s are such a crucial age for both college grads and non-college grads.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows it must seem like she's "arrived," as NPR's Rachel Martin says during their discussion on Sunday's Weekend Edition. She's well-known from Seinfeld, of course, but she's also been on Saturday Night Live, and for five seasons held down her own CBS sitcom, The New Adventures Of Old Christine. Her new HBO comedy, Veep, in which she plays the vice president to an unseen and unknown president, premieres Sunday night.

As an Afghan-American woman, Saima Wahab straddles two worlds — disparate places that have been brought together over the past decade by war.

Wahab has literally mediated those two worlds. As a Pashto translator and cultural adviser for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, she often found herself standing between American soldiers and Afghan civilians.

In her new memoir, In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate, Wahab writes about leaving Afghanistan as a young girl, growing up in the United States and later returning to her birth country.

More and more, audiences are getting to know Jason Segel. After featured roles in Judd Apatow projects like Freaks and Geeks and Knocked Up, Segel has gone on to star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets -- both of which he wrote — and he also plays a lead on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

But even as Segel is an increasingly leading man, his characters don't exactly fit the leading-man mold. They're more beta than alpha males — tall but unassuming, likeable and understanding.

On-Air Challenge: You'll be given classic advertising slogans and catch phrases in which the letters of the last word are scrambled. First, unscramble the word. Then name the product or company that is the advertiser. For example, given "Get a piece of the cork," the answer would be "Get a piece of the rock," which is a slogan of the Prudential Insurance Company.

Pop Culture's 40-Year Itch

Apr 21, 2012



And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. And we're going to talk about music, movies and culture now, and in particular, about something known as the 40-year rule. Adam Gopnik is with us now from New York. He's written about it for the latest issue of The New Yorker. Hello, Adam.

ADAM GOPNIK: Hey, Guy. How are you?

RAZ: I'm good. Let's explain this with a pop quiz, Adam. You know the answers. so don't give it away because this is for the listeners.

GOPNIK: All right.

Jorja Leap has spent time in crisis zones from Bosnia to New Orleans. As an international expert in crisis intervention, she never expected to end up doing most of her work in her own backyard.

Ten years ago, Leap returned to her hometown of Los Angeles to work with some of the toughest gangs around. A UCLA alumna with a Ph.D. in psychological anthropology, Leap works with outreach and intervention programs spanning Los Angeles' most gang-saturated territories.