INTERVIEWS

ABOUET: Drawing on the Universal in Africa

marguerite-abouet-circleWRR: Tell me about moving from Ivory Coast to France at a very young age (seven?) — and how this experience, coupled with living in France from thereon, might have influenced the course of your life and your writing of Aya (if at all).

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ABOUET: Drawing on the Universal in Africa (French version)

marguerite-abouet-circleWRR: Parlez-moi de votre déménagement de la Côte d’Ivoire vers la France a un tres jeune âge (sept ans?) et comment cette expérience ainsi que la vie en France, ont influencé votre livre Aya. (si tel est le cas)

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ABULHAB: Arabic from Left to Right with Type Designer, Saad Abulhab

Hamra Night font It’s impossible to separate the Arabic language from its beautiful script, a script used by 200 million people; from which calligraphers have created a sublime and sacred art form in the Islamic holy book, the Koran.  How, then, does a person take a language that has traditionally been written by hand and turn it into an easily readable type font — one that maintains the beauty of the written form — and can be set and read in the Western style from left to right as well as from right to left?

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ALDRICH: Life in the Big House: Alexandra Aldrich

stander-bighouse-6 (1)My curiosity to see the place was piqued by a 2010 New York Times article, which described the colorful cast inhabiting the 450-acre property and the challenges of preserving it with no remaining family fortune. I live a short drive from Rokeby and had passed by any number of times. But I’d never gone beyond the sagging line of mailboxes at its farm road entrance, where I once let off a pungent young man who needed a ride from the Rhinecliff train station.  

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ASHLEY: A Voice Answering a Voice — Renée Ashley

Renee Ashley “Watch out for abstractions!” warned California-born poetess Renée Ashley, with a pitch of urgency only one or two tones below that exclaimed in a nearly missed automobile accident. Many years ago, I remember scribbling these words down during Fairleigh Dickinson’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA program, where Ashley taught (and still teaches). There’s something about Renée Ashley that inspires vigorous note taking.

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ASSONITIS: Alessio Assonitis on The Medici Archive Project

Medici coat of armsThe widespread assumption is that the historian seeks one specific document that will radically rewrite the past, and that the rest of the material is just useless dross to be brushed aside. Archival research is not a search for undetonated historiographic bombs, it is a meaningful journey. - Alessio Assonitis. Director of the Medici Archive Project

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BALL: Kathryn Ball – Fire Watcher on Buck Rock Lookout

bashman-ball-5-KBatBRKathyBallpersonalphotoIn the male-dominated world of firefighting, the U.S. Forest Service depends on Kathryn Ball as a warning system for the ever-present danger of forest fires. For 12 fire lookout seasons, each lasting five to six months, Ball and her dog Annabelle have lived in isolation in the 14-foot square living quarters known as Buck Rock Lookout at an elevation of 8,500 feet in the Sequoia National Forest.  

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BANKS: From Tragedy to Triumph: New York Times Bestselling Author L.A. Banks

lesliebanks-cirlces L.A. Banks's  career was born out of tragedy. Years ago, her six-month-old daughter was severely burned, she was going through a divorce, she lost her job when she took time off to be with her daughter, and she was broke. Yet somehow, in the midst of all the grief, she turned to writing – creating page after page of entertainment that kept her girlfriends so entranced they submitted the complete manuscript to publishers without telling her.

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BASHMAN: Janice Gable Bashman on Writing and Collaboration

banks-undead-1 (1)Of course, it’s also important that you implicitly trust your writing partner to write the best material possible and complete it on time. My co-author, New York Timesbest-selling author Jonathan Maberry, and I each wrote individual chapters and reviewed and edited each others’ work. Other chapters were a collaborative effort. And, for any collaboration, it’s important that both partners are equally invested in the end result.  

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BATESON: Composing a Further Life with Cultural Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson

Composing a Further Life book cover For writer and cultural anthropologist, Mary Catherine Bateson, longevity is cause for hope and celebration. In her latest book Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, a sequel to her earlier bestseller, Composing a Life, Bateson emphasizes that all lives have a deep creative component to them; and that as we grow older, we have the opportunity to fully engage our creative and compassionate selves in the world. Bateson calls the emergence of the new stage of life, ages 50 to 75, Adulthood II.

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BELBRUNO: Ed Belbruno – The Colors of the Universe: Microwaves and Art

stocke-colorsoftheuniverse-2 (1)In early 2007, I interviewed Belbruno about his book, Fly Me to the Moon, in which he describes how one of his paintings provided the solution he was seeking to fly a Japanese space ship to the moon without using fuel.The opening lines of visionary William Blake’s poem, "Auguries of Innocence," come to mind when mathematician and artist Ed Belbruno describes his latest paintings of surprisingly beautiful microwaves.  

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BELLI: Giaconda Belli: The Page is My Home

nagy-giaconda-circleFor Nicaraguan poet, journalist, novelist and activist Gioconda Belli, writing is a form of activism. From her first collection of boundary-breaking poetry to her 2008 memoir chronicling a young mother’s devotion and dangerous participation in the 1970's Nicaragua's Sandinista movement, Belli's writing exposes personal and political truths.  

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BISHOP: Our Ancestors Who Art in Heaven with Jacqueline Bishop

jacqulinebishopI would like readers to classify the book in the ways that you have written about it in your question as a boundary- and genre-bending work though, truth be told, I did not conceive of it as such when I was putting the book together. What happened was that I had written a collection of short-short stories and sent it in to Peepal Tree Press for consideration of publication.  

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BITA: Lili Bita Talks About Her New Memoir, Sister of Darkness

stocke-lili-bita-sister-of-darkness-circle Lili “Angelika” Bita is well known for her one-woman plays such as The Greek Woman Through the Ages and Freedom or Death, which have been performed on numerous stages on three continents. A multi-faceted and highly talented artist, pianist, performance artist, actor, poet and writer, Bita says, “Passion enlivens all that I do.”

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BOSKOFF: How Nancy Boskoff became Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council

glantz-saltlake-circleI met Nancy Boskoff when I was in law school in Washington, DC. She was a refreshing change from the intensity of the legal profession. Nancy balanced her love of  the arts with a love of reading which dates back to winning the local spelling bee in junior high school. She's been the Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council since 1987. Her sister, Susan Boskoff, is the Executive Director of the Nevada Arts Council.  

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CLARKE: Bruno Clarke’s Intersecting, Interconnecting World

Dr. Bruce “Bruno” Clarke - interconnected world How did a musician who saw Jimi Hendrix blow “the rooftop off” an empty club in Washington, DC, find similar resonance in the field of "second order cybernetics?" For Dr. Bruce “Bruno” Clarke, professor of literature and science at Texas Tech University, Woodstock performer and survivor, (his band, Sha-na-na was the penultimate act before Jimi Hendrix closed the Festival), it’s all connected, but not in ways we might expect.

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COURTNEY-CLARKE: Photojournalist Margaret Courtney-Clarke on Finding Africa

Morocco 1993 - Courtney-Clarke Courtney-Clarke collaborated with poet Maya Angelou on a series of books designed to introduce children to cultures around the world and received four prestigious awards for that endeavor. Several films have been made about Courtney-Clarke and her photography, and her work has inspired other films on African fashion, fabric designs, porcelain designs, and more. Her photographs have been exhibited on five continents and have been acquired by galleries, museums, and private collectors. by Janice Gable Bashman

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COYULA: An Interview with Cuban Filmmaker Miguel Coyula

Coyula Our conversation focused on being an independent filmmaker on the cusp of change as the United States and Cuba restore diplomatic and economic relations. WWR: I know you lived in New York when you had your Guggenheim. What was it like coming back to Cuba?

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DALAI LAMA: Buddhism for the 21st Century

weinstein-dalilama-circlepngTo the sound of thundering applause, His Holiness walked on stage, bowed three times and then prostrated himself before the image of the Buddha emblazoned on a 50 foot tall tapestry, known as a thangka. Taking off his sandals, he nestled cross legged in a radiantly orange chair to begin his teachings on "Buddhism in the 21st Century."  

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DANTICAT: Create Dangerously – A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat

Danticat On a September day in 2009, Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat sat before her computer in her Miami home holding her nine-month-old daughter, Leila, when she heard the phone ring.  After the caller advised her to put her baby down, Danticat learned that she had been selected for the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a five-hundred-thousand-dollar no-strings-attached grant awarded to to “enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.”

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DE BOTTON: The Art of Connection with Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton To enter into conversation with Alain de Botton is to stroll into a garden of fertile yet impeccably organized thought. You might feel relaxed walking through rows of elegant flowers and past soothing fountains. But soon you turn corners and climb cobbled stairs with heightened senses and increasing curiosity. “Beauty is something to be found, rather than passively encountered,” de Botton suggests in The Art of Travel.

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DOVER: Singer-songwriter, Poet and Trail Cook Connie Dover

bashman-trailcook-1The Boston Globe has described Connie Dover as “the finest folk ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez.” Her voice has been heard on numerous film and Emmy award-winning television soundtracks. She produced original and traditional music for the PBS show Bad Blood – A True History of the Kansas Missouri Border Conflict and won an Emmy Award for musical composition and arrangement for her work on that production.  

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DREW: Gardens of Water, L.A. Style

Gardens of Water Last month, my bookseller friend Melony invited me to join an intimate Random House soiree in Los Angeles hosted by Random House sales representative, Wade Lucas. First-time author, Alan Drew, had just published a novel about Turkish Kurds and the events of the 1999 earthquake near Istanbul, and Lucas wanted Southern California booksellers to meet him.

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EARLE: Sylvia Earle on An Extraordinary Hope Spot

Cabo Pulmo Marine Park Over the past 50 years, humans have put an enormous amount of pressure on coral reef environments by altering their waters and tearing up their foundations. From dynamite fishing to global warming, we are rapidly sending the world’s reefs into oblivion. The latest reports state that as much as 27 percent of monitored reef formations have been lost and as much as 32 percent are at risk of being lost within the next 32 years.

Earth Observatory, NASA, 2015

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ESPOSITO: The Forgotten Children of Abraham

schimmel-esposito-mosque-circle “It is compulsory both in the West and the East to move beyond stereotypes and demonization, to educate the next generation to be global citizens who have a healthy respect for other cultures and religions.” - John L. Esposito

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FRANCO – For All Minds Desiring Ownership – Don Franco

tchallah-donfranco-1-circle Have you ever met a modern-day revolutionary? Well, Don Franco the author of The FAMDO Way:  A Commentary and Solution to the African-American Crisis is a social entrepreneur with a business plan and a manifesto.  

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FULBRIGHT: Harriet Mayor Fulbright- World Peace through Education

stocke-fulbright-circleNow, in her mid-seventies, Mrs. Fulbright has embarked on an ambitious agenda that would exhaust most people half her age. Through education and outreach, her organization is enlarging the mission of her late husband, Senator J. William Fulbright, who was instrumental in encouraging U.S. participation in the United Nations and was the creator of one of the world’s most successful scholarship programs, the Fulbright Scholarships.  

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GAIMAN: Neil on Growing up Gaiman

ogline-gaiman-growing-2Gaiman shared his boyhood frustration of books by authors (even his beloved Ray Bradbury!) who just didn’t seem to be speaking with authenticity when they were writing in the voice of a child. It was as if many adults forgot how to be a kid... or that they were ever a kid to begin with for that matter. Neil thought it was important to channel that inner sense of wonder, that childlike sense of awe, when writing for children with Coraline or The Graveyard Book.  

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GIOIA: Dana Gioia: An Acknowledged Legislator of the Word

Dana Gioia “More light!” Yes, Dana informed me, those were indeed the last words Goethe spoke before dying in his chair in Weimar. “Of course,” he added, a sly twinkle in his green eyes, “in his German dialect he might simply have been saying, ‘It hurts!’”

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GLANTZ: Joseph Glantz on the Sparks of Philadelphia’s Creativity

stocke-glantzlight-3-circleHis book Philadelphia Originals, which examines the unique styles and traditions of Philadelphia was published by Schiffer Books in August, 2009. It includes over 200 images, mostly paintings, by Philadelphia artists. A companion book, Philadelphia Before You Were Born, which examines the art and artists of the Philadelphia Press newspaper (during the last period when newspapers used artists, instead of photographers, for the paper's illustrations) will be discussed in a subsequent WRR post.  

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GOLDBERG: A Conversation with Natalie Goldberg about Memoir and All Things Zen

natalie-goldberg-circle I scan the mostly middle-aged men and women around me-some on chairs and others cross-legged on an old stage, set by wood and lit candles-and can't help but wonder if they're feeling what I am: both diminished and impressed by the breadth and depth of Mary's skill. She's learned her lessons well as both a writer and protege of Goldberg's, who stands behind her beaming like a proud mother.  

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GUPTA: Sunetra Gupta – The Elements of Style

nagy-sunetra-1It is easy to imagine novelist and scientist Sunetra Gupta behind a microscope. Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford University, the biologist, fiction and non-fiction writer examines ideas, characters, and diseases such as influenza, with a careful, interior focus.  

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HALIFAX: Joan Halifax, Roshi – Letting Go, Letting in Light

Being with Dying "My field is dying," says Joan Halifax Roshi, with a smile. "How we die and how we live can't be separated because factors and policies surrounding death affect the well-being of us all."  

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HALL: Thinking with Muscle and Tongue: The Poetry of Donald Hall

Donald Hall “Outspoken,” said several of the headlines announcing that Donald Hall of Wilmot, New Hampshire, is, by order of the Librarian of Congress, the new Poet Laureate of the United States. “Donald Hall is one of America’s most distinctive and respected literary figures. For more than fifty years, he has written beautiful poetry on a wide variety of subjects that are often distinctly American and conveyed with passion,” said the citation.  

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HAWKE: Producer Ryan Hawke on Seymour Bernstein

Seymour Bernstein Ryan Hawke wears many hats: mother of two, committee member to arts’ associations and public service organizations, board member with The Alex Fund, which provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged Romanian children, Vice President of Under the Influence Films, wife of actor, Ethan Hawke, and cherished family friend.

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HONEY – Dr. Margaret Honey on the Muslim Heritage in Our World

NY Hall of Science 1001 Inventions logo At some point in their education, students of western history will learn a term that describes a period of time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance (5th- 12th centuries CE) when the so-called “light of civilization” dimmed and stagnated: The Dark Ages. What the term Dark Ages doesn’t take into account is that much of the world was, in fact, experiencing a golden age of scholarship and literature.

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IYER: Pico Iyer – Global Writer, Heart & Soul

brenner-heartandsoul-1 (1)Video Night in Kathmandu changed my expectations of travel writers forever. That was in 1985 when foreign travel became accessible to the masses and the search for exotic cultures was on the rise. For many of us with an incurable wanderlust and a curiosity of the world, Iyer was a breath of fresh air.  

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JOHNSTON: How Lynn Johnston Became One of the World’s Most Read Comic Strip Artists

For Better or For Worse comic strip characters Who could have imagined that drawing comics on the ceiling above an obstetrician’s examining tables would lead to the creation of one of the world’s most successful comic strips? Certainly not Lynn Johnston.

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KEPHART: Beth Kephart, Author of Flow

Flow book cover I was first introduced to Beth Kephart's writings though her book, flow, an autobiography about Philadelphia's Schuylkill River. Here's what noted author Buzz Bissinger said of flow: "Beth Kephart's flow is just a sumptuous book-haunting, poetic, lit up with gems of beauty and history. We engorge ourselves on materialism. The legacy of our generation will be our consumerism. But flow and its exquisite evocation of the Schuylkill River reminds us that nature still trumps everything.

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KHWAJA: A Conversation with Pakistani Poet and Translator Waqas Khwaja

waqas-poet-1 (1)Waqas Khwaja and I met at The Asia Society during the PEN World Voices Festival after he had finished leading a panel featuring Modern Poetry of Pakistan, a far-reaching collaboration and translation project including Pakistan’s seven languages (Baluchi, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi), forty-four poets and fifteen translators, for which Khwaja also served as translation editor.  

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KINZER: Resetting the Future with Journalist Stephen Kinzer

brenner-regimechange-1 (1)In today's fifteen-second, sound-bite news cycle, it's refreshing to meet Stephen Kinzer, whose thoughtful and thought-provoking journalism elevates him to the same class as his great predecessors. Like Murrow, Shirer and Bourke-White before him, Kinzer is a storyteller who brings humanity and solutions in his reporting.  

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KÜPÇÜ: How to Weave a Culture with Murat Küpçü

stocke-weavingculture-circle A few years ago on a rainy March afternoon, I sat with a group of travelers in a carpet shop on a street of carpet shops in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Our guide Nesko had brought us to meet her friend Hasan Semerci, a former professor of English turned carpet dealer. Hasan seemed at once a part of the bazaar, with its boys carrying trays of tea in tulip-shaped glasses to and from shops, but also separate; a man who could talk politics while unfurling a rare Turkomen carpet. by Joy Stocke

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MAJOR: Judith Major – A Landscape Critic in the Gilded Age

Landscape Critic in The Gilded Age by Judith Major

Have you ever wondered who creates and preserves the green spaces we treasure when our brains become filled with too much technology and we long to grab our dog or friend or lover and don walking/running/hiking shoes or mount our bikes and head out to our local parks to clear our heads?  Do we stop to think that someone––or a team of someones––has designed the space we are now enjoying, and has manipulated the land to create pathways, ponds, hills, meadows, and woods specifically for our pleasure?

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MAURO: Primates, Boars, and a Conversation with Author Nancy Mauro

stocke-monkey-2 (1)

Imagine a young, unhappily married couple on the verge of separation. They leave New York City to spend their summer in a small town somewhere upstate. Set-up sound familiar? But that’s precisely where Nancy Mauro’s darkly humorous debut novel, New World Monkeys, takes a bumpy, nightmarish road less traveled.

 

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MOSS: Robert Moss on How Dreams Can Save Your Soul

nagy-moss-circle Since world-renowned dream teacher Robert Moss coined the term Active Dreaming in 1994, researchers continue to study and debate the connection between dreams and our “active” waking lives and brains, most notably in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.

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OGLINE: Author & Illustrator Tim Ogline on Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin by Tim E. Ogline From the rebellious instincts of a runaway apprentice to the discipline and drive of a self-made printer, best-selling author, diplomat and scientist, there’s doesn’t seem much Ben Franklin (1706-1790) couldn’t do. Franklin’s innovations saved lives through fire prevention (lightning rods), improved vision (bifocals), illuminated crowded streets (street lights), spread knowledge (the first full-service library), and even helped library patrons reach coveted volumes on the top shelf (extension arms). As a boy, Franklin invented swim fins; and today, holds a place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

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OLSEN: Greg Olsen – Scientist, Entrepreneur, and Space Traveler

stocke-nagy-gregolsen-circleConvicted of juvenile delinquency for stealing hubcaps, Olsen failed trigonometry in high school. But, in 1957, he also watched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, orbit the Earth and the experience left its mark.  

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PAMUK: Orhan Pamuk – The Melancholy Life

stocke-pamuk-1 (1)A few days before I was scheduled to leave, I received an e-mail from Pamuk asking for my phone number. The next day I received a phone call. The voice on the other end was friendly. Pamuk spoke English as fast as a native speaker, his accent inflected with the rhythm of an upper class Turkish background.  

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PAPP: Lisa Papp on The Town that Fooled the British

bashman-town-4-Lisa-in-my-meadow-Sept2010Lisa Papp has illustrated numerous children’s books including, Eve Bunting’s My Mom’s Wedding, Kristin Earhart's Patch, Steven Layne and Deborah Layne’s P Is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet (co-illustrated with Robert Papp), Jane E. Gerver's Penny, and Robert L. May's Rudolph to the Rescue and Rudolph Shines Again. She is the author of The Town that Fooled the British: A War of 1812 Story which was illustrated by her husband, Robert Papp (who is also a children’s book illustrator and cover artist for Cook’s Illustrated magazine). by Janice Gable Bashman

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PEREZ – Dick Perez: Sports Artist for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Phillies

glantz-perez-circleBorn in 1940 in Puerto Rico, Dick Perez aspired to become a professional baseball player. He realized by age 16 that his talents lay in another passion - drawing. After relocating to Philadelphia from New York in 1958, he attended the Philadelphia College of Art, where he studied European landscape romanticism, classical realism, and expressionism - the same styles American artists had used to portray baseball players on tobacco cards and magazine covers at the turn of the 20th century. Perez's baseball art reflects the influences of such masters as John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquin Sorolla, and Diego Velazquez.

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PERKINS: Curator Nicholas Perkins on Why Medieval Romances Aren’t Just about Romance

mcconnel-medival-2With the massive popularity of series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, it's clear that as wondrous and strange as the world of fantasy is, we have no problems imagining ourselves in it. Perhaps, the escapist in us all yearns for a world where unlikely heroes pursue noble quests, wizards lead charmed lives, dragons curl up in dens around piles of gold, and damsels find themselves in distress.

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PETTERSON: Per Petterson – Language Within Silence

stocke-per-petterson

“If you consider it,” says Petterson. “What you say has less importance in your life compared to what you think. The words you say are also outnumbered by your thoughts.” In Petterson’s hands, words become spare, gorgeous prose, casting a spell over the reader, luring us into the forest, into silence, until we hear the clear voices of his characters.

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SAGAN and VOLK: Dorion Sagan and Tyler Volk on Death and Sex

stocke-sagan-2 Okay, I have to admit it. When I heard science writer and evolutionary theorist Dorion Sagan read the opening from Sex, his contribution to a double header co-written with biologist Tyler Volk, titledDeath and Sex (2009, Chelsea Green Publishing), I was convinced that Sagan received the easier assignment.

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SHAFAK: Elif Shafak, A Writer on the Edge of Her Culture:

Elif ShafakAuthor, Elif Shafak, may be new to many American readers, but with her two most recent novels written in English — The Bastard of Istanbul and The Saint of Incipient Insanities — rather than in her native Turkish, this is about to change.  In addition to her books, the thirty-four year old author writes articles for Turkish, European, and American newspapers, teaches classes at the University of Arizona in Near Eastern Studies half the year, and works with women’s networks and speaks out for the reconciliation of Armenian-Turkish organizations.

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SHLAIN: Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain on Connectedness and the Ripple Effect

timeline - circled “Do something radical and true,” voices from around the world echo in a three-minute, crowd-sourced film curated by director Tiffany Shlain. In Declaration of Interdependence, a tapestry of different languages forges a universal tongue, which proclaims at the end, “For centuries we have declared independence. Perhaps its time we declare our interdependence.” Naturally, the founder of the Webbys (an awards series for the best of the Internet) would be acutely sensitive to technology’s role in defining what it is to be human in the 21st Century.

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SMITH: Philip Smith: Author of Walking Through Walls

Walking through Walls book cover In the 1950s, dashing Lew Smith and his chic blonde wife Esther would go out on the town to drink cocktails and “listen to Dean Martin or laugh at Shecky Greene.”   As Miami’s “only heterosexual decorator,” Lew catered to clients ranging from jet-setting socialites to the dictator of Haiti. In Walking Through Walls (published in hardcover last year, now out in paperback), his son Philip writes, “my father was able to convince the ultra-rich that he was just the man to fluff their pillows, hang their drapes, and ease them away from their addiction to anything rococo or European baroque.

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SOKMEN: Shape-Shifter: In Istanbul with Metis Publisher Muge Sokmen

metis-circleJust before my interview last spring with Muge Gursoy Sokmen, co-founder of Metis Publishing, a leading independent publishing house in Turkey, I encountered a crowd of demonstrators in Taksim Square located on the European side of the Bosphorus and one of the city's major hubs.  

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SOPHIA: Interview with Rosa Sophia, Writer and Auto-Mechanic

redding-rosasophia-circle Twenty-year old Rosa Sophia has been writing since she learned how to spell her name and has no intention of stopping. Her interests include criminology and psychology. In addition, she plans to go to a school for auto-mechanics with a goal to restore antique and classic cars for resale. She also fantasizes about owning a bookstore in Portland, Maine and living on Cliff Island where one of her unfinished novels is set.

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THOMPSON: Philosopher Evan Thompson Explores Consciousness in Neuroscience

stocke-waking-2-Evan_ThompsonThompson is the son of the Lindisfarne Association's founder, cultural philosopher and poet William Irwin Thompson, and grew up in the mileu of some of the late twentieth century's most daring and original thinkers. It was not unusual for Thompson to sit down at the dinner table with social scientist, Gregory Bateson; Buddhist scholar, Robert Thurman; biologist, Lynn Margulis; or Chilean neuroscientiest Francisco Varela, with whom Thompson would later collaborate on a groundbreaking book - The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience.  

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THOMPSON: The Evolution of William Irwin Thompson: Cultural Historian

stocke-thompson-1-1024x576James had worked as a translator in Berlin’s East Zone before the wall fell, and had finally moved to New York where by a stroke of good fortune, or good karma, as he might say, he discovered the Lindisfarne Symposium, led by cultural historian William Irwin Thompson at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on the Upper West Side of New York.

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TIMPANE: John Timpane on Poetry, Science and the Big Bang, Part One

John TimpaneThe term Mind Jazz perfectly describes a conversation I had with John Timpane, poet, musician, teacher, and editor. During the course of a three-hour conversation, Timpane talked about language, poetry, and science, weaving concepts and ideas together with ease.

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TIMPANE: John Timpane on Poetry, Science, and the Big Bang, Part Two

John Timpane In the second and final installment of a wide-ranging interview, John Timpane, Associate Editor of the Editorial Board of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and a member of the first group of recipients of the Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion, talks about his career and what brought him to Cambridge University.

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TODD: Pamela Todd – The Blind Faith Hotel: Coming of Age on the Prairie

murray-blindfaith-3 (1)

Pamela Todd and I have known each other for years—since she worked for me almost a decade ago, writing scripts for computer-based training programs about employee benefits. What she does today is a far cry from our days together in corporate America. Although she still writes copy, this time for a Web design firm outside of Chicago (close to where she lives with her husband, a rotation of four children [two in college and summer residents only], and her Golden Retriever Benton), she is also a successful author and novelist two times over.

by Jill Sherer Murray

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TODD: Poet J. C. Todd – The Quiet Maverick

Photo by Eric Steginsky On a morning in early March when the air still held winter’s bite, I visited poet J. C. Todd in her Philadelphia townhouse. She graciously welcomed me into her cozy eighteenth-century drawing room. With its fireplace and well-used rocking chairs, it seemed the perfect place to curl up with a good book.

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VACHARAT and GEISLER: The Creators and Creation of HOOT Review

george-hoot-2Amanda Vacharat and Dorian Geisler are the editors and co-Founders of HOOT Review, a literary magazine delivered to subscribers in the form of a postcard. Both are published poets in their twenties. Vacharat, who has family in Vietnam, grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia...They met at a wedding and later became a couple  

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VON MOLTKE and SIMMS: Part 2 – The Web and Community

webandcommunity-circleIn the responses to the first installment of Why Independent Bookstores Matter, a simple and anonymous question posted on a web page in the StumbleUpon universe stood out: “You mean, people still read books in print?”  

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VON MOLTKE and SIMMS: Why Independent Bookstores Matter, Part 1

webandcommunity-circleTall and dark haired, with a gracious smile, von Moltke has a knack for articulating her point. Her partner, Simms, a seasoned bookseller (with a bookseller’s gift of being frighteningly well read, but nevertheless approachable) worries that the term “promoting the life of the mind” might sound a little too good to be true.  

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WARD: Peter Ward on Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record, Part One

photo-peterward2At the age of six, Peter Ward requested an adult paleontology book from his (perhaps a little taken aback) mother. But, she must have already sensed the extent of her son’s interest. For soon thereafter, mother and son stood in a Seattle bookstore and despite the urging of a bemused clerk shooing them into the children’s section, the sophisticated book was duly purchased  

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WARD: Peter Ward on Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record, Part Two

photo-peterward2When I asked Ward how he viewed his role as a scientist, he spoke without hesitation. “Well, it is my belief that it’s a scientist’s responsibility to yell, stand up and debate, and to talk to the public." So it’s no surprise that Ward appeared in a public debate in Seattle last year — a debate which few of his scientific colleagues approved.  

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WELLES: In My Father’s Shadow – A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles

PHOTO ONE--Daddy and daughter-circleA few days before she took off for California to start her book tour, I reached Feder by phone in her New York City home. The voice that greeted me was so youthful, I found it hard to believe it was coming from a 71-year-old. I started off by asking why she wrote In My Father’s Shadow.

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WILSON: Kevin Wilson: Debut Novel – The Family Fang

stander-wilson-2 (1)Having attended art school and hung around the Manhattan art/music scene of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I came of age with people like Caleb and Camille Fang. I was curious how Kevin Wilson managed to capture them and their milieu with such piercing, tragicomic accuracy. He answered my questions by phone from Sewanee, Tenn., where he teaches at the University of the South.  

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WOLFMAN: A Comics Titan, Marv Wolfman

Marv Wolfman excerpt One storyteller who has mastered the art to its highest degree is Marv Wolfman. Even if you don’t know the man by name — and shame on you if you don’t — you probably know his work. Marv has been involved with creating comics through most of the past five decades. He has worked for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics as a writer and an editor.

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WRR: Every River Tells a Story

Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy What is that Wild River spin?   We aim to cover current events, conduct interviews, and publish essays in the same way that good literature helps us embrace that which doesn’t fit neatly into one category.

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ZALLER: Historian Robert Zaller Talking of Troubadours and Poetry

stocke-solitude-3 (1) Robert Zaller, historian, critic, poet, Professor of History at Drexel University, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society might balk at the term polymath, but the longer you engage him in conversation the more the term fits...It's easy to imagine Zaller setting out to have a career as an academic, but his story is more complex and interesting, and speaks to how artists make a place for themselves in our society.  

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ZAMBATHA-PAGOULATOU: Traveling to the Light with Phaedra Zambatha-Pagoulatou

MyrtisRecently, I had the good fortune to interview the outstanding Greek poet Phaedra Zambatha-Pagoulatou.  Phaedra lives in a spacious apartment her native Athens, decorated with the mementos and awards of a long career in the arts.  A lifetime fighter against fascism and all forms of injustice, she is the author of eighteen books of poetry among other volumes, and was the long-time secretary of the Hellenic Authors Society.

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