Monthly Archives: December 2004

Debating for the Future (Re-broadcast)

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Tommie Lindsey believes in the power of words to do just about anything. And he should know. Lindsay is a debate coach at high school outside San Jose, CA where kids are labeled at risk and few go on to college. But by teaching his students to use language, drama and emotion, Lindsay has helped many overcome broken homes and move on to the Ivy League. Lindsey believes that mastering the art of a persuasive argument is any student’s ticket to the future. Teaching his students discipline, manners and the turn of a good phrase, he’s instilling self-respect and self-esteem, and giving hope to students who have little to begin with.


Tommie Lindsey, Debate coach at James Logan High School in Union City, CA and winner of a MacArthur Genius Award.

Nadine Gordimer (Re-broadcast)

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Nadine Gordimer is a long-time member of the African National Congress, and is a close friend of Nelson Mandela’s. And while politics has been a constant preoccupation, Gordimer is a writer. Her stories mapped the fragmented landscape of the white suburbs, and the black townships, always probing the personal toll that apartheid took on all South Africans. Today, Gordimer has turned her activist’s energy to the growing AIDS epidemic, but still she writes in words she considers the most powerful, words of fiction.


Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-winning, South African writer, author of numerous short stories and novels including “The Conservationist,” “July’s People,” and “The House Gun” and editor of the recent anthology of short stories, “Telling Tales.”

MacArthur Winner Rueben Martinez (Re-broadcast)

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It all started in a small barbershop in southern California. Rueben Martinez put a few books out so his customers had something to keep them occupied. He never dreamed it would turn into a new career and a national profile promoting literacy.

Today, he is trying to get young people to develop that same voracious appetite for reading that has always guided him. Setting up shop in poor Latino neighborhoods outside Los Angeles, he’s takes his message to schoolyards and into neighborhood homes. Now he’s being recognized with a MacArthur “genius grant.”


Rueben Martinez, MacArthur Award winner and owner of Libreria Martinez Books and Art Gallery in Santa Ana, California.

Seamus Heaney (Re-broadcast)

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Although it was written centuries ago, the Greek tragedy “Antigone” still speaks today. Sophocles’ play chronicles a classic struggle between an individual’s conscience and the power of the state. Along with the bloodletting common to Greek tragedy, there are lessons about pride, and duty to family, and loyalty to country and to self.

Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, is known for breathing new language into old works, now has his own translation of “Antigone.” The Irish writer credited for bringing readers back to the story of “Beowulf,” has a keen ear for the ancient word and an eye for its modern resonance.


Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of numerous books of poetry, prose, and criticism. His newest translation is “The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ Antigone.”

The Future Farmer (Re-broadcast)

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The story of the American farmer is often more romantic than realistic. But Cheryl Rogowski is out to change all that. In a world of huge agribusiness and dwindling crop prices, this MacArthur Genius is determined to make her farm, and others like it, thrive.

Digging in the dark earth of Pine Island, New York, Rogowski helped transform her family’s onion farm into a cornucopia of crops. Rogowski has survived by diversifying her fields and growing new connections with others farmers. Her’s is a farming pedigree that goes back to the 1300s in Poland, so walking away from the farm for her has never been an option.


Cheryl Rogowski, owner of the W. Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, NY and winner of a MacArthur Genius Award.

Judy Blume (Re-broadcast)

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America’s culture war over how to talk to teens about sex has been raging longer than as Judy Blume has been writing about it. Her books are known for their frank portrayal of everything from sex, to divorce and the strange world of puberty, they’ve entertained millions of girls and boys over the past three decades and recently earned her an award for her distinguished contribution to American letters.

Blume’s straight up stories about masturbation and menstruation have seen to it that her work is often banned from school libraries by parents who think they she goes too far. Nevertheless the 60-something author remains every bit as recognizable to teens as Justin, Britney and Jessica.


Judy Blume, author and winner of the National Book Award.

Helpful Inventions for the Third World

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Since living in Botswana, Amy Smith has dedicated her life to solving daily problems in the developing world. From machines that produce clean drinking water, vaccines and cheap charcoal, the MIT instructor’s inventions are made with local materials.

Beyond making life easier for the world’s poor, Smith also wants to change what it means to be an inventor. In a world obsessed with gizmos costing hundreds of dollars, Smith wants instead to focus minds and imaginations on simple solutions for big problems.


Amy Smith, Inventor and MacArthur Award winner.

Black, Not African-American

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John McWhorter is no longer calling himself African-American. From now on, he’s black. Such naming and renaming is nothing new. After World War I there was a fight to replace “colored” with Negro with a capital “N.” A half century later, black, once negative, became infused with pride. By the late 80’s black leaders declared a new name: African-American. But as the number of people moving here from Africa has tripled, a new debate is underway about who’s really African-American.


John McWhorter, linguist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Holiday Stories

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Literature has a way of illuminating the human spirit. And in those few days or those few moments when we’re able to catch a bit of holiday relaxation we thought we’d bring the two together.

On this Christmas Eve, we’ve wrapped up a few poems, short stories, and selected readings — some of the favorites from some of our favorite writers who’ve all chosen something about what the holidays mean to them. Think of it as a moment amid all the last minute shopping and the tree trimming and those nervous moments waiting for family and guests — when we invite you to join us for a moment of reflection on the ideas of generosity and compassion….when it works, and when it doesn’t.


Paul Mudoon, author of “Moy Sand and Gravel: Poems”

ZZ Packer, author of “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

Franz Wright, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, author of “Walking to Martha’s Vineyard”

Frank Conroy, author of “Time and Tide: A Walk Through Nantucket”

Robert Pinsky, former US Poet Laureate, author of “Jersey Rain”

Mark Doty, author of “Still Life with Oysters and Lemons: On Objects and Intimacy”

Gregory Maguire, author of “Leaping Beauty: And Other Animal Fairy Tales”

Gish Jen, author of “The Love Wife.”