Kay Ryan, US Poet Laureate (2008-present)

Since October 2008, Kay Ryan has been serving as America’s 16th poet laureate, tapped by the librarian of Congress to be ambassador for American poetry. She has published more than half a dozen books of collected poems. and is cherished for her  compact, vivid and accessible verse.  This profile is based on my interview with her at the Academy of American Poetry in New York City.

Here is a link to the VOA story I did about her and includes audio links to an extended excerpt from our interview and sound files of Ryan reading several of her poems.

See also my profiles of US Poet Laureates Charles Simic and Donald Hall.

Posted in Americana, Books, Poetry, Profile, Women

The Dalai Lama Interview on Conflict and Mind

In 1995, it was my good fortune to be flown down to Atlanta to interview the Dalai Lama. It was in the middle of a very ambitious and (to me) fascinating multi-million dollar project I was producing at the time on conflict resolution, and the psychology of war, violence, reconciliation and peace.  This long form doc uses some clips from His Holiness, and is leavened with dramatized excerpts from his speeches on these subjects, voiced by my colleagues at the VOA’s Tibetan Service.

May these words benefit all sentient beings!

Posted in Buddhism, Long form docs (15" and up), Religion, Spirituality

The Kitchen Sisters: Audio Maestre

The Kitchen Sisters are famous in the radio world, and to National Public Radio listeners, for the wonderful way they combine the sounds and sentiments of real people according to themes and make their lives come alive for all of us. In this profile, I talk to them in a cozy San Francisco locale and learn more about what makes them tick, and how they find their inspirations.

Posted in Americana, Oral History-oid, Profile, Women

Jenks vs. Broken Arrow (OK) High School Football

In small town Oklahoma, high school football runs a close second to the Bible in popularity and team spirit. Here is a story I did (as a sidebar to the State Fair I was covering) about one game between two rival small town football teams.  For a New Yorker like me, this is almost as exotic as it gets!

Posted in Americana, Holidays-Season Specific Tags: , , , , , , ,

Gays in the Military: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

This is a story I did the weekend of October 10-11 2009 connected with a gay rights march on the Capitol, especially as regards gays in the military.  Here’s the intro I used for the piece:

Demonstrations are expected this weekend in Washington as groups of active and former service members and their supporters urge lawmakers to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy” that bars openly homosexual service members from serving in the military, and a stricter federal law that forbids homosexual from serving at all. Activists denounce both as inhumane, outmoded, and against both the military and the national interest. Supporters of the bans say they are necessary for the comfort and morale of heterosexuals in the ranks. Adam Phillips examines the controversy.

Posted in Uncategorized

Death n’ Stuff at the “New York Times” Obit Desk

After articles about the President and “dog bites man,” the obituaries are among the most popular articles the New York Times features. Part news story, part profile, obits attempt to sum up a person’s life and significance, and no more. Indeed, how many “column inches” a person is expected in the paper to get when he dies is closely guarded knowledge at the Times.  In this story,   I crash the gates of Hell, and spend some time with the people who make the Obit Section work, and their overseers. As with many of my stories, Chopin is included at no extra charge.

Posted in History, New York, Profile

The “Green Tortoise” Bus: Making the Miracle

A direct descendent of the Ken Kesey’s and the Merry Pranksters’ bus “Further,”  and the Grey Rabbit buses that criss-crossed America during the late 1960s and 70s, “The Green Tortoise” is now a full fledged tour company that totes mostly young people to America’s greatest well-known and offbeat locales.  They live on the bus, which at night miraculously transforms into a sleeping car for 24 .  Good food we make ourselves. Fun, adventure, not a little drama, and some great bumpy memories ensue, as we “Trip” across the country, or go to National Parks, or wherever it is that’s been signed on for (and usually more). This is a story I did a few years back in Eastern California with my then 10 year old son Noah in tow. (He used to love crawling around in the bus-length luggage racks.)

Posted in Americana

Black “Born Again” Christian Hair Salons

The Bible says that a woman’s hair is a glory to her, and they take that quite literally at several African American beauty salons that are springing up in the Washington DC and other urban areas.  Come with me on my visit to a salon where being “born again,” amazing hair-dos and “prayerful” and joyous sisterhood intertwine in a sacred (often musical) weave.

Posted in Americana, Immigrants and Ethnic Life, Religion, Spirituality, Women

Masonry as a Spiritual Path for Men

The Masons have long been the subject of curiosity, derision, persecution and admiration for their tight brotherhood, which claims millions of members worldwide, and which has been a mainstay for most American presidents and untold numbers of movers and shakers. The purported “secrecy” of their rites and symbols,  which are sometimes riffs on the belief systems of non-Christian cultures, notably that of Egypt and ancient Greece, has added to their allure and cache.  I met with a group of elite Amercian Masons, who described for me the spiritual path that Masonry can represent for men, and was granted some insight into how this fraternity works.

Posted in History, Religion, Science, Spirituality Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Status of Women in Israel (NPR 1990)

Between Zionism, Socialsim,  Feminism, Judaism, the Holocaust, and all the American, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Asian cultural influences that compete for primacy as models for women in Israel, their status and self-image is deeply multi-layered and complex. This half hour documentary, which I completed for National Public Radio back in the early 1990s, offers a sound-rich and varied sampling through the eyes of real women living, working and raising families in that amazing place.

Posted in History, Long form docs (15" and up), Religion, Spirituality, Travel outside the USA, Women Tags: , , , , , , ,
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