Literature

The Archive Project

Literary Arts

In partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Literary Arts is building a retrospective of some of the most engaging talks from the world’s best writers over the first 30 years of Portland Arts & Lectures in Portland.

Episodes

David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)
49:59
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 49:59
David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)

In Another Day, best-selling author David Levithan tells the story from the side of Every Day’s Rhiannon as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you. Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, Michelle Tea’s sequel to Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, finds our hero Sophie traveling from Massachusetts to Poland with her unlikely guardian, the mermaid Syrena. And in Beastly Bones, the follow-up book to the acclaimed Jackaby, William Ritter tells of a supernatural investigation from the perspective of Abigail Rook, R.F. Jackaby’s assistant. Alison Clement, author of Twenty Questions, moderates this panel.

They like knowing there are other cultures in the world, and they rally at the opportunity to think about other societies and other ways of thinking about things. And when we only focus on one—just Western society—we miss out on lots of really cool philosophical ways of thinking about the world. – William Ritter, on teaching world mythologies

It is a really sweet feeling to create characters and then get to keep returning to them. – Michelle Tea, on writing a sequel or series

You may deploy this amazing metaphor [in your manuscript], and you’re like, ‘Wow! I’ve seen everything in a new light because of this amazing articulation that is so brilliant.’ And then when you’re revising, you’re like, ‘There is no way this character would ever have thought that.’ And so you have to kill your darling. – David Levithan, on character and voice 

David Levithan is the author of numerous books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, the Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was adapted into a film starring Michael Cera. Levithan is an editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of its PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Michelle Tea is an author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose work often explores queer culture, feminism, race, class, and prostitution, among other topics. Her award-winning memoir, Valencia, was adapted into a feature length film shot by 21 independent filmmakers as a collaborative film-arts project. Tea is the founder of the literary nonprofit RADAR Productions and the co-founder of the infamous spoke word tour, Sister Spit. She lives in San Francisco.

William Ritter is the author of two Young Adult novels, Jackaby and its sequel, Beastly Bones. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and currently teaches high school language arts and mythology. When reading aloud, he always does the voices. He lives in Springfield, Oregon.

The moderator of this panel is Alison Clement. She is the author of Pretty is As Pretty Does and Twenty Questions, which won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction through the Oregon Book Awards in 2007. Before earning her Master’s Degree, Clement had dropped out of college after reading Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society and worked a variety of jobs, including selling underground newspapers in Madison, Wisconsin; managing an occult bookstore in Normal, Illinois; and panhandling in San Francisco. She now teaches composition at a small, rural community college in Oregon.

Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)
52:53
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)
51:39
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes I revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)
1:07:08
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:07:08
Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, author Mohsin Hamid discusses his childhood transitions from Pakistan to the United States and back again, citing Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons as two of his earliest storytelling influences. He goes on to highlight moments on his journey as a writer, including how Moth Smoke, his debut book, began as his Harvard Law thesis; how he convinced a supervisor to let him have three months off each year to work on his writing; and the most basic human trait that unites us all: mortality.

At one point, [Douglas Adams] writes that ‘the secret to flying is throwing yourself at the ground and missing.’ And that is really how I approach writing novels. I throw myself at the ground and hit, repeatedly, for years—I write draft after draft after draft…and eventually, hopefully, I miss.”

“I saw my dad playing with my daughter every morning and getting so excited about what she would be doing in five years, in ten years. And meanwhile, my father’s brother passed away, his best friend passed away, and yet my father was so excited about this future. And I realized that in some way his love for this child had altered his relationship to time.”

Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels and one collection of essays. His debut book, Moth Smoke, was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, propelling him from his career as a management consultant in New York to an author in his hometown of Lahore. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was an international best seller, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and adapted into a movie directed by Mira Nair. His book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, contains his reflections on life over the past 15 years. Hamid spent much of his childhood and early adulthood alternating between life in Pakistan and life in the United States. From this experience, Hamid has noted, “I’m somebody who can blend in usually quite quickly, but inside continues to retain a sense of feeling foreign.” In addition to living in Lahore, New York, and California, Hamid spent eights years in London following the start of his professional writing career. Of the central theme of his works, Hamid has stated, “All of my novels are love stories, in a way. I think love is kind of the plot in our lives, you know? It’s embedded in the culture and even the religion of the part of Pakistan I’m from, which is that one of the ways in which we can confront the horror of being mortal and dying one day is to love enough that we’re not so central to ourselves that we can’t face the fact that we’re going to end.”

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)
51:56
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
1:10:05
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:10:05
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
45:09
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 45:09
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)
53:35
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 53:35
Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Diane Ackerman shares the incredible, true story of Antonina Żabińska, whose diary she draws from in The Zookeeper’s Wife. She reads a selection from the book, and expands upon the history of the Żabińska family’s heroic efforts to save over 300 people during WWII by moving them through the underground railroad that ran through their home and zoo. She also expands on the, perhaps surprising, environmental views the Nazis held, including their great respect for rare plants and animals, and their conservation efforts.

 What fascinates me is how often, and with what wholeheartedness, ordinary people will perform acts of compassion, courage, and sacrifice for absolute strangers.”

“Staying emotionally limber enough to love, play, nurture, and marvel, despite all the ligatures of war, that takes a rare kind of courage.”

“[The Nazis] hoped to alter the world’s ecosystems. Not only dominate nations and politics, but the whole planet’s DNA. Changing the genetic spirals of evolution. A goal that, of course, legitimized genocide.”

“There’s been so much written about the Nazis. But for me, looking at it from a natural history perspective goes to the heart of what the Nazi lunacy was all about. Through their passion for genetics and the natural world, we can see the horror of what they were doing, but also a kind of innocent obsession with nature, and animals, and the environment – rather wholesome, all things considered – coexisting with a maniacal, sadistic, murderous racism.”

 

Diane Ackerman is a naturalist and poet and the author of ten books of literary nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses, A Natural History of Love, and Cultivating Delight. Also the author of six volumes of poetry and several nonfiction children’s books, she contributes to the New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, Parade, and many other publications. In her most recent book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the whole planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” Ackerman lives in Ithaca, New York.

Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)
1:24:03
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:24:03
Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)

Michael Pollan begins his lecture by praising Portland for being one of the incubators of true healthy eating before moving on to discuss the new American food culture. He describes how many Americans have developed an unhealthy obsession with being healthy, which has actually backfired, as evidenced by the obesity epidemic. He labels the prevailing American ideology as “nutritionalism,” which places primacy on the mysterious “nutrient” and requires expert insight to navigate. Next, Pollan questions the assumption that the sole reason to consume food is to be healthy and encourages people to eat for pleasure, community, and spirituality as well. He goes on to describe the ways in which the food industry has benefitted from Americans’ obsession with scientific research and “miracle” ingredients. He addresses ways in which Americans can improve their current eating habits and provides suggestions for where to eat, when to eat, and how to consume natural ingredients. Pollan concludes his lecture by emphasizing the intimate relationship between all levels of the food chain.

Michael Pollan is an American journalist, activist, and professor. He is the author of four New York Times bestselling books on food and healthy eating, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Botany of Desire, which was later adapted into a PBS documentary. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan writes, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” going on to argue, “The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world.” In 2009, Pollan was named one of Newsweek’s top 10 “New Thought Leaders,” and in 2010 he was listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine. He went on to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 2012 and the Premio Nonino prize in 2013. He teaches at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and serves as the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Because nutrients are invisible—I mean, who’s ever seen a nutrient? Who’s ever tasted a nutrient?—they’re therefore slightly mysterious, and like many unseen things, you need experts to help you mediate your relationship to them. It’s a little bit like a religion.”

“Your personal health is not bordered by your body. You’re not a machine taking in either good or bad fuel. Your health is linked—your health depends on—the health of the whole food chain, of which you are a part.”

“Make no mistake, we are now teaching children how to become fast food consumers. We’re teaching them how to eat chicken nuggets and tater tots in ten minutes.”

Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)
1:11:42
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:11:42
Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)

In this episode, Marjane Satrapi discusses her writing and art, specifically the film production of Persepolis (2000). She first establishes that she makes “comics” not “graphic novels,” dismissing the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy among publishing companies. She also establishes that the comic form is not a genre, but an artistic medium—one that allows for narrative structures that are quite different from books and paintings. She goes on to explain that she wanted to stay true to this medium throughout the film production of Persepolis and touches on her initial difficulties with the extremely social moviemaking process in contrast to the solitude of creating comics. Her humor is evident when she talks of the luxury of civilization, the need for gaining distance—in terms of both time and geography—from a personal story to tell it well, and the challenges of traveling as an Iranian with a French passport.

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French graphic novelist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author. She was born in Iran in 1969 and grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family, attending the Lycee Francais until she left for Vienna and, later, Strasbourg to study Decorative Arts. She eventually moved to France, where she now lives with her husband, Mattias Ripa. Satrapi has worked on many graphic novels and animated films, but she attracted worldwide attention for her autobiographical comic series Persepolis. The work chronicles her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. In 2007, Persepolis was adapted into a critically acclaimed animated film of the same name that received over 25 major international award nominations and over 15 major international awards.

This use of humor was very, very important for me. And the comic gave me this possibility. And, as I said before, it also gave me [the] possibility to use this humor without falling into cynicism. Because if there is one thing that I really hate over all, it’s cynicism.”

“I wouldn’t call my work an autobiography, because an autobiography is normally a book that you make because you have problems with your family and friends and you don’t dare to say it to them, so you make a book and, you know, you solve your problem with people. Believe me, I am not like that.”

“Any intellectual and any artistic work, by definition, is an anti-fanatic work. Fanaticism presses on the button of emotion…When you make an intellectual and artistic work— when you don’t pretend that you have the answers, but you only have questions to ask—when you make this work, for the person who listens to or reads you, not only do you ask them to be smart, but to work—to try to find the answers themselves.”

Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)
1:06:30
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:06:30
Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Don DeLillo and Noah Hawley begin at the end, discussing DeLillo’s writing process for each segment of his novels from finish to start. Throughout this conversation, DeLillo delves into some of the research related to several of the books he has written throughout his career. He and Hawley also compare the process of writing a novel to the process of writing for television or film.

I go sentence by sentence, word by word, and the sentences seem to extend themselves into paragraphs . . . For me there is an element of a certain mystery. The language itself is what matters most to me, and then people evolve out this; people evolve out of words.” – Don DeLillo

“I think there is that novelist tool as well where you write stuff that you don’t know why it’s in there and then months later you have that eureka moment where you realize where you’re going to pay it off.” – Noah Hawley

Don DeLillo was born in 1936 and grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. As a teenager, he spent many of his work hours reading William Faulkner, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and Ernest Hemingway—writers who would have great influence on his later work. After graduating college and a brief stint as an advertising copywriter, DeLillo lived cheaply in a Manhattan studio apartment and started to work on his first novel, Americana, which was published in 1971. He went on from there to publish 14 more novels, including White NoiseLibraUnderworldFalling Man, and his latest novel, Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, among other accolades.

Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo. He is adapting Don DeLillo’s Zero K for film.

Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)
47:38
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)
51:24
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:24
Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Malcolm Gladwell examines the idea of the underdog (namely, why the underdog persists in their quest despite the odds) through the story of Alva Belmont, also known as Alva Vanderbilt, a prominent multi-millionaire American socialite and major figure of the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.

“Why do underdogs fight? We have all of these cases, in all sorts of contexts, where the weaker party in a conflict continues to rebel long after we feel like they should, when the odds seemed overwhelming stacked against them, when the logic of the situation would suggest that what they really should do is give up. But they don’t give up. They keep fighting.”

“Nothing serves as a greater engine of defiance than the condition of being denied standing and neutrality.”        

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Prior to that, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)
1:06:58
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:06:58
Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)
51:44
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:44
Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)

Ursula Le Guin begins her lecture with Margaret Atwood by saying, “I emailed Margaret about six weeks or so ago and said, ‘What are we going to talk about?’ and she replied, ‘I expect we will talk about 1) What is fiction?; 2) What is science fiction?; 3) The ones who walk away from Omelas—where do they go?; 4) Is the human race doomed?; 5) Anything else that strikes our fancy.’” The two women proceed to examine these questions and talk through their answers. They delve into their writing processes and motives, creating many humorous analogies for the act of writing, whether they connect it to naked chickens, salted slugs, or dark boudoirs.

Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She has written over 40 books and is best known for her fiction, including The Blind Assassin, which won the Man-Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood has used her public profile to advocate for human rights, the environment, and the welfare of writers. She has been president of PEN International and helped found the Writer’s Trust of Canada. As a public intellectual, Atwood is known as a brilliant thinker on a huge range of subjects who has a wry and ironic sense of humor and who is willing to call out platitudes and other forms of lazy thinking.

Ursula K. Le Guin sold her first story over 50 years ago and has been writing and publishing ever since. Tackling various modes, including realistic fiction, science fiction, high fantasy, children’s literature, screenplays, and essays, her work has challenged traditional understandings of gender roles, politics, race, and identity. She is best known for her fantasy series Earthsea and her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. She has influenced several generations of writers, including Junot Díaz, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Jonathan Lethem. Throughout her career, she has continuously met criticism with courage, causing one critic to note, “It’s been hard for reviewers to cope with Le Guin. She’s often seemed like a writer without a critical context. But that may just mean that the context is still to come.” Among her many honors, Le Guin has received a National Book Award and, most recently, The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

If we knew everything ahead of time, we wouldn’t write the book. It would be paint by numbers and there wouldn’t be any discoveries.” – Margaret Atwood

“Rereading a book is much better than reading it. A good book reread is better than a good book read.” – Ursula Le Guin

“All doors are doors to the future, if you go into them.” – Margaret Atwood

David Remnick
48:04
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 48:04
David Remnick

With his trademark wit and humor, David Remnick shares personal stories from his career in journalism and talks about other editors and authors whom he has admired. He begins by recounting how he landed his first job at The Washington Post (narrowly dodging a placement that might have had him working in Everett, WA). He then expands on his time spent working for The Washington Post in Moscow in the late-1980s to early-1990s, where he was paid to uncover Soviet secrets, reported on the 1991 coup d’état attempt, and was often tailed by members of the KGB. Throughout the lecture, Remnick reads from his own work, and the work of others, and talks about people who have influenced his career and writing, including former Executive Editor of The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, journalist Murray Kempton, and numerous Soviet authors.

“What’s been my goal all along, and I think the goal of a lot of nonfiction writers, is to meld the techniques of the conventional novel to the demands and rigor of reporting. It’s not easy to do.”

“Something that’s very important in life is luck. I was extremely lucky to get [my first job].”

David Remnick is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post. He also has served on the New York Public Library board of trustees. In 2010 he published his sixth book, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

Siddhartha Mukherjee
53:48
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 53:48
Siddhartha Mukherjee

In this lecture, Siddhartha Mukherjee dives into the complex topic of genetic research and why he wanted to write The Gene: An Intimate History, reasons of which include his family’s own history with genetic diseases. He shares the timeline of historic discoveries in the science of genes, from Gregor Mendel’s work with inheritance patterns in pea plants to modern-day somatic cell and germ line gene therapies, and speculates on the scientific possibilities in the future of genetic research. Throughout the lecture, he asks philosophical questions that will – in the not too distant future – become very real quandaries that human beings will have to face. He asks questions such as: If you could learn more about your or your children’s genetic makeup and potential risks, would you want to know? Would that knowledge change the course of your actions? And is humanity prepared for the responsibility that will come with our growing scientific knowledge?

“Genetics is not an abstraction for me. It is one of the most concrete realities that my family has faced, and I would argue it is one of the most concrete realities that virtually every family will face.”

“In these political times, please read the chapters on race… The Victorian construction of ‘race’ is entirely arbitrary, and the fact that we are fighting about a scientific construction that’s largely arbitrary is really embarrassing.”

“This is technology that our children will be debating and talking about in a way that will make much of these current debates entirely trivial.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in NatureThe New England Journal of MedicineThe New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Michael Ondaatje
51:11
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:11
Michael Ondaatje

In this recording, Michael Ondaatje shares his fourth novel, Anil’s Ghost. He begins by giving an overview of the plot, which is set in a civil war-torn Sri Lanka at the end of the twentieth century. The story follows Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, and educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist to investigate human rights violations. Anil, along with archaeologist Sarath Diyasena, discovers the skeleton of a recently murdered man in an ancient burial ground, and becomes determined to identify the man and bring about justice to the countless nameless victims of the war. Ondaatje then shares selected readings from the novel, which paint the novel as a deeply powerful story of love, family, identity, and the attempt to unlock the hidden past.  

On Anil’s choosing of her own name: “Later, when she recalled her childhood, it was the hunger of not having that name, and the joy of getting it, that she remembered most. Everything about the name pleased her. Its slim, stripped down quality, its feminine air, even though it was considered a male name.”

“Gamini rarely saw himself from the point of view of a stranger. Though most people knew who he was, he felt he was invisible to those around him.”

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, novelist, editor and filmmaker. Ondaatje’s literary career began with his poetry in 1967, publishing the books The Dainty Monsters, and then in 1970 the critically acclaimed The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. He is widely recognized for his nationally and internationally successful novel The English Patient (1992), which was adapted into a film in 1996. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada’s most renowned living authors.

Liars’ League PDX
47:38
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Elmore Leonard
52:18
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 52:18
Elmore Leonard

In this episode of The Archive Project, Elmore Leonard shares stories, often humorous, about his correspondences with his readers—from teenagers who ask how he has perfected the portrayal of criminals in his writing to adults who sell his letters for hundreds of dollars. He also notes how the letters portray varying reactions to his writing, demonstrating how readers and writers often view the same material in contrasting ways. Leonard goes on to discuss the gap between novel writing and screenwriting and how it is ultimately a story’s characters that do all the work and have all the power, not the writers themselves.

 

They love themes in Hollywood. I never think of theme; I just think of what’s going to happen next, and I know when I reach the end. I always wait for someone else to tell me what it’s about.”

“Your [writing] style blooms from your attitude and the way you see the world.”

“What kind of writing brings in the most money? Ransom notes.”

Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925. A storyteller from the start, Leonard wrote his first play—a war story inspired by the novel All Quiet on the Western Front—at age 10, utilizing the furniture in his fifth grade classroom as stage props. In 1949, he began his professional writing career in advertising, penning Westerns on the side and primarily selling them to pulp magazines. One of his first publications, the short story “3:10 to Yuma,” went on to be adapted to film in 1957 and again in 2007. In 1961, Leonard became a full-time writer, adding crime fiction and suspense thrillers to his list of genres and publishing more than 50 novels, short stories, and screenplays throughout his 60-year career. The most famous among these includes the novella Fire in the Hole, which served as the basis for the award-winning television series Justified, and the novel Rum Punch, which was adapted into the 1997 film Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino. In total, 26 of Leonard’s novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen. He died in 2013 at the age of 87.

Francine Prose
51:37
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:37
Francine Prose

Francine Prose begins by discussing the differences and similarities between writing fiction and nonfiction, which are not always what one might assume. She finds that both require obsessive attention to detail and clarity. Reading from her novel in progress, A Changed Man, she remarks that she has “about three hundred more drafts before it’s done.” Using excerpts from several different books, Prose illustrates how language shapes character and how information is transmitted while maintaining storytelling in both genres. She teaches close reading to aspiring writers, comparing it to surgeons looking at an appendectomy, and tries to illustrate how to transmit information through showing instead of telling. With humor and great insight, Prose touches on revisions, the sources of ideas, and teaching writing.

“I knew that [my student Elissa Schappell] was going to be a real writer; she gave me a story and she called me up that evening and said, ‘I need it back.’ And I said, ‘Well, I started reading it and it seems perfectly fine.’ And she said, ‘There are five typos in it and I can’t stand to think you’re reading a story with typos in it.’ And I knew she was the real thing.”

Prose is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright. A Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.

“I can remember being in college and being taught Moby Dick for the first time and having a professor say, essentially, y’know, ‘Melville was looking for a way to talk about the struggle between good and evil, and he was looking for a symbol of evil, and he thought, “Oh, I know, the White Whale.”’ Well, once I started writing myself, I began to notice that it doesn’t actually work that way, that it seemed much more likely to me that Melville started out wanting to tell a story about a whale, and 50, 75 years later, somebody else came along and said, ‘Hmm, symbol of evil. That’s what it’s about.’”

“I’ve had writing classes where every student had a different personality disorder, and they were all kind of complimentary—they played off each other.”

Salman Rushdie
52:53
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett
51:39
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes a revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani
51:42
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:42
Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani

In this episode of The Archive Project, we’ll listen to compositions from several students who participated in the 2016 Verselandia! Poetry Slam Competition, the grand slam of the individual school slams held throughout the year. Touching on such topics as race, gender, loss, and love, these students confront issues that are core to the human experience. The top five winners for the night were:

1st Place: Tea Johnson from Grant High School

2nd Place: Lily Lamadrid from Franklin High School

3rd Place: Alexis Cannard from Roosevelt High School

4th/5th Place (tie): Zoe Stuckless from Wilson High School & Maia Abbruzzese from Lincoln High School

This episode also features an extended interview with Anis Mojgani, the host of the 2016 Verselandia! Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. He is the author of three poetry collections—Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, and Over the Anvil We Stretch—and a fully illustrated poetry memoir, The Pocketknife Bible.

 

The majority of us don’t care about poetry, or believe we don’t care about poetry, or don’t believe that it’s something for us—that it’s not something we’re smart enough to understand, that it’s for a very small percentage of people. As opposed to the idea that poetry is simply a tool for explaining what it means to be human—for processing that, for communicating that, for sharing that, and for being shared that with by others.”
—Anis Mojgani

“I always fluctuate back and forth between how much I loathe poetry and how much I love it. But one thing I don’t swing back and forth about is how much I love young folks being introduced to poetry, and writing it, and finding their voice through it.”
—Anis Mojgani

Colum McCann
51:58
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:58
Colum McCann

In this episode of The Archive Project, Colum McCann gives a talk he’s titled “Can’t Go On, Must Go On.” Drawing from the famous quote by Samuel Beckett, McCann uses this talk to explore storytelling and his refusal of cynicism. He shares insights into the inspiration and process behind some of his most famous works and discusses how four books that he’s written are connected in compelling and surprising ways. He asserts that, ultimately, all things are given to us for a purpose, including struggles and darkness, to help shape our lives.

Everywhere we’ve been is everywhere we are now, and everything experience is something that helps us move into the present moment.”

“I love writing books because I get to write what I don’t supposedly know. I get to investigate the world and see new things and go to new places.”

“We have to engage with the darkness. Only by engaging with the darkness do we recognize that there is some form of light that is apparent.”

Colum McCann is the author of six novels, including Let the Great World Spin (Random House, 2009) and three collections of stories. His most recent book is the collection Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House, 2015), a novella and three stories, which earned him praise from the Wall Street Journal: “McCann is a passionate writer whose impulse is always toward a generous understanding of his diverse characters.” Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish Arts Academy, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. He is the co-founder of the nonprofit global story exchange organization, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program at Hunter College.

Barbara Kopple
1:19:09
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:19:09
Barbara Kopple

In this episode of The Archive Project, Barbara Kopple opens by talking about being grateful that documentaries are moving into the mainstream, with audiences appreciating these “real-life, nonfiction films.” She then tells about her journey to becoming a filmmaker, which started while she was studying political science in college and, instead of writing a paper, decided to make a short film showcasing people who’d had lobotomies. “My professor was outraged,” she said. “I got a D….but I was hooked.” Kopple goes on to discuss her process making several films, including Winter Soldier, Harlan County, USA, American Dream, Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, Century of Women, Wild Man Blues, and My Generation. She emphasizes her desire to portray people in truthful ways—to delve deeper than the headlines and expose her audiences to new perspectives that they would never see otherwise.

Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project is the documentary Running from Crazy, which examines the personal journey of writer, model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her complex family history. Barbara has received several awards, including the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, the SilverDocs/Charles Guggenheim Award, the White House Project’s EPIC Award, the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award, and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. In 2010, Kopple received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from American University. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.

 

 

I had parents who did, and still do, everything they could for me and gave me a real sense of self so I could take risks. And I decided that I really wanted to do films that were so far from what I understood and what I knew to sort of bring me closer and make me able to communicate.”

 

“What was the most important thing for me, really, was to go beyond the headlines, and go beyond the tabloids, and really find out who this kid is, and what he’s about, in a way that nobody else could. And something that I really like to do is to look under a blanket where you’re not supposed to see, and pull things out, and that’s what I tried to do in the Mike Tyson piece.”

Tracy K. Smith
1:07:08
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 1:07:08
Tracy K. Smith

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin
51:56
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
48:17
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 48:17
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
56:59
2017-09-21 04:43:44 UTC 56:59
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

 

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

 

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.

David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)
49:59
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 49:59
David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)

In Another Day, best-selling author David Levithan tells the story from the side of Every Day’s Rhiannon as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you. Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, Michelle Tea’s sequel to Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, finds our hero Sophie traveling from Massachusetts to Poland with her unlikely guardian, the mermaid Syrena. And in Beastly Bones, the follow-up book to the acclaimed Jackaby, William Ritter tells of a supernatural investigation from the perspective of Abigail Rook, R.F. Jackaby’s assistant. Alison Clement, author of Twenty Questions, moderates this panel.

They like knowing there are other cultures in the world, and they rally at the opportunity to think about other societies and other ways of thinking about things. And when we only focus on one—just Western society—we miss out on lots of really cool philosophical ways of thinking about the world. – William Ritter, on teaching world mythologies

It is a really sweet feeling to create characters and then get to keep returning to them. – Michelle Tea, on writing a sequel or series

You may deploy this amazing metaphor [in your manuscript], and you’re like, ‘Wow! I’ve seen everything in a new light because of this amazing articulation that is so brilliant.’ And then when you’re revising, you’re like, ‘There is no way this character would ever have thought that.’ And so you have to kill your darling. – David Levithan, on character and voice 

David Levithan is the author of numerous books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, the Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was adapted into a film starring Michael Cera. Levithan is an editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of its PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Michelle Tea is an author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose work often explores queer culture, feminism, race, class, and prostitution, among other topics. Her award-winning memoir, Valencia, was adapted into a feature length film shot by 21 independent filmmakers as a collaborative film-arts project. Tea is the founder of the literary nonprofit RADAR Productions and the co-founder of the infamous spoke word tour, Sister Spit. She lives in San Francisco.

William Ritter is the author of two Young Adult novels, Jackaby and its sequel, Beastly Bones. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and currently teaches high school language arts and mythology. When reading aloud, he always does the voices. He lives in Springfield, Oregon.

The moderator of this panel is Alison Clement. She is the author of Pretty is As Pretty Does and Twenty Questions, which won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction through the Oregon Book Awards in 2007. Before earning her Master’s Degree, Clement had dropped out of college after reading Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society and worked a variety of jobs, including selling underground newspapers in Madison, Wisconsin; managing an occult bookstore in Normal, Illinois; and panhandling in San Francisco. She now teaches composition at a small, rural community college in Oregon.

Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)
52:53
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)
51:39
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes I revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)
1:07:08
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 1:07:08
Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, author Mohsin Hamid discusses his childhood transitions from Pakistan to the United States and back again, citing Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons as two of his earliest storytelling influences. He goes on to highlight moments on his journey as a writer, including how Moth Smoke, his debut book, began as his Harvard Law thesis; how he convinced a supervisor to let him have three months off each year to work on his writing; and the most basic human trait that unites us all: mortality.

At one point, [Douglas Adams] writes that ‘the secret to flying is throwing yourself at the ground and missing.’ And that is really how I approach writing novels. I throw myself at the ground and hit, repeatedly, for years—I write draft after draft after draft…and eventually, hopefully, I miss.”

“I saw my dad playing with my daughter every morning and getting so excited about what she would be doing in five years, in ten years. And meanwhile, my father’s brother passed away, his best friend passed away, and yet my father was so excited about this future. And I realized that in some way his love for this child had altered his relationship to time.”

Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels and one collection of essays. His debut book, Moth Smoke, was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, propelling him from his career as a management consultant in New York to an author in his hometown of Lahore. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was an international best seller, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and adapted into a movie directed by Mira Nair. His book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, contains his reflections on life over the past 15 years. Hamid spent much of his childhood and early adulthood alternating between life in Pakistan and life in the United States. From this experience, Hamid has noted, “I’m somebody who can blend in usually quite quickly, but inside continues to retain a sense of feeling foreign.” In addition to living in Lahore, New York, and California, Hamid spent eights years in London following the start of his professional writing career. Of the central theme of his works, Hamid has stated, “All of my novels are love stories, in a way. I think love is kind of the plot in our lives, you know? It’s embedded in the culture and even the religion of the part of Pakistan I’m from, which is that one of the ways in which we can confront the horror of being mortal and dying one day is to love enough that we’re not so central to ourselves that we can’t face the fact that we’re going to end.”

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)
51:56
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
1:10:05
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 1:10:05
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
45:09
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 45:09
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)
53:35
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 53:35
Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Diane Ackerman shares the incredible, true story of Antonina Żabińska, whose diary she draws from in The Zookeeper’s Wife. She reads a selection from the book, and expands upon the history of the Żabińska family’s heroic efforts to save over 300 people during WWII by moving them through the underground railroad that ran through their home and zoo. She also expands on the, perhaps surprising, environmental views the Nazis held, including their great respect for rare plants and animals, and their conservation efforts.

 What fascinates me is how often, and with what wholeheartedness, ordinary people will perform acts of compassion, courage, and sacrifice for absolute strangers.”

“Staying emotionally limber enough to love, play, nurture, and marvel, despite all the ligatures of war, that takes a rare kind of courage.”

“[The Nazis] hoped to alter the world’s ecosystems. Not only dominate nations and politics, but the whole planet’s DNA. Changing the genetic spirals of evolution. A goal that, of course, legitimized genocide.”

“There’s been so much written about the Nazis. But for me, looking at it from a natural history perspective goes to the heart of what the Nazi lunacy was all about. Through their passion for genetics and the natural world, we can see the horror of what they were doing, but also a kind of innocent obsession with nature, and animals, and the environment – rather wholesome, all things considered – coexisting with a maniacal, sadistic, murderous racism.”

 

Diane Ackerman is a naturalist and poet and the author of ten books of literary nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses, A Natural History of Love, and Cultivating Delight. Also the author of six volumes of poetry and several nonfiction children’s books, she contributes to the New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, Parade, and many other publications. In her most recent book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the whole planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” Ackerman lives in Ithaca, New York.

Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)
1:24:03
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 1:24:03
Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)

Michael Pollan begins his lecture by praising Portland for being one of the incubators of true healthy eating before moving on to discuss the new American food culture. He describes how many Americans have developed an unhealthy obsession with being healthy, which has actually backfired, as evidenced by the obesity epidemic. He labels the prevailing American ideology as “nutritionalism,” which places primacy on the mysterious “nutrient” and requires expert insight to navigate. Next, Pollan questions the assumption that the sole reason to consume food is to be healthy and encourages people to eat for pleasure, community, and spirituality as well. He goes on to describe the ways in which the food industry has benefitted from Americans’ obsession with scientific research and “miracle” ingredients. He addresses ways in which Americans can improve their current eating habits and provides suggestions for where to eat, when to eat, and how to consume natural ingredients. Pollan concludes his lecture by emphasizing the intimate relationship between all levels of the food chain.

Michael Pollan is an American journalist, activist, and professor. He is the author of four New York Times bestselling books on food and healthy eating, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Botany of Desire, which was later adapted into a PBS documentary. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan writes, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” going on to argue, “The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world.” In 2009, Pollan was named one of Newsweek’s top 10 “New Thought Leaders,” and in 2010 he was listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine. He went on to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 2012 and the Premio Nonino prize in 2013. He teaches at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and serves as the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Because nutrients are invisible—I mean, who’s ever seen a nutrient? Who’s ever tasted a nutrient?—they’re therefore slightly mysterious, and like many unseen things, you need experts to help you mediate your relationship to them. It’s a little bit like a religion.”

“Your personal health is not bordered by your body. You’re not a machine taking in either good or bad fuel. Your health is linked—your health depends on—the health of the whole food chain, of which you are a part.”

“Make no mistake, we are now teaching children how to become fast food consumers. We’re teaching them how to eat chicken nuggets and tater tots in ten minutes.”

Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)
1:11:42
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 1:11:42
Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)

In this episode, Marjane Satrapi discusses her writing and art, specifically the film production of Persepolis (2000). She first establishes that she makes “comics” not “graphic novels,” dismissing the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy among publishing companies. She also establishes that the comic form is not a genre, but an artistic medium—one that allows for narrative structures that are quite different from books and paintings. She goes on to explain that she wanted to stay true to this medium throughout the film production of Persepolis and touches on her initial difficulties with the extremely social moviemaking process in contrast to the solitude of creating comics. Her humor is evident when she talks of the luxury of civilization, the need for gaining distance—in terms of both time and geography—from a personal story to tell it well, and the challenges of traveling as an Iranian with a French passport.

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French graphic novelist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author. She was born in Iran in 1969 and grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family, attending the Lycee Francais until she left for Vienna and, later, Strasbourg to study Decorative Arts. She eventually moved to France, where she now lives with her husband, Mattias Ripa. Satrapi has worked on many graphic novels and animated films, but she attracted worldwide attention for her autobiographical comic series Persepolis. The work chronicles her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. In 2007, Persepolis was adapted into a critically acclaimed animated film of the same name that received over 25 major international award nominations and over 15 major international awards.

This use of humor was very, very important for me. And the comic gave me this possibility. And, as I said before, it also gave me [the] possibility to use this humor without falling into cynicism. Because if there is one thing that I really hate over all, it’s cynicism.”

“I wouldn’t call my work an autobiography, because an autobiography is normally a book that you make because you have problems with your family and friends and you don’t dare to say it to them, so you make a book and, you know, you solve your problem with people. Believe me, I am not like that.”

“Any intellectual and any artistic work, by definition, is an anti-fanatic work. Fanaticism presses on the button of emotion…When you make an intellectual and artistic work— when you don’t pretend that you have the answers, but you only have questions to ask—when you make this work, for the person who listens to or reads you, not only do you ask them to be smart, but to work—to try to find the answers themselves.”

Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)
1:06:30
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 1:06:30
Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Don DeLillo and Noah Hawley begin at the end, discussing DeLillo’s writing process for each segment of his novels from finish to start. Throughout this conversation, DeLillo delves into some of the research related to several of the books he has written throughout his career. He and Hawley also compare the process of writing a novel to the process of writing for television or film.

I go sentence by sentence, word by word, and the sentences seem to extend themselves into paragraphs . . . For me there is an element of a certain mystery. The language itself is what matters most to me, and then people evolve out this; people evolve out of words.” – Don DeLillo

“I think there is that novelist tool as well where you write stuff that you don’t know why it’s in there and then months later you have that eureka moment where you realize where you’re going to pay it off.” – Noah Hawley

Don DeLillo was born in 1936 and grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. As a teenager, he spent many of his work hours reading William Faulkner, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and Ernest Hemingway—writers who would have great influence on his later work. After graduating college and a brief stint as an advertising copywriter, DeLillo lived cheaply in a Manhattan studio apartment and started to work on his first novel, Americana, which was published in 1971. He went on from there to publish 14 more novels, including White NoiseLibraUnderworldFalling Man, and his latest novel, Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, among other accolades.

Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo. He is adapting Don DeLillo’s Zero K for film.

Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)
47:38
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)
51:24
2017-09-22 13:50:50 UTC 51:24
Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Malcolm Gladwell examines the idea of the underdog (namely, why the underdog persists in their quest despite the odds) through the story of Alva Belmont, also known as Alva Vanderbilt, a prominent multi-millionaire American socialite and major figure of the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.

“Why do underdogs fight? We have all of these cases, in all sorts of contexts, where the weaker party in a conflict continues to rebel long after we feel like they should, when the odds seemed overwhelming stacked against them, when the logic of the situation would suggest that what they really should do is give up. But they don’t give up. They keep fighting.”

“Nothing serves as a greater engine of defiance than the condition of being denied standing and neutrality.”        

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Prior to that, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)
1:06:58
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 1:06:58
Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)
51:44
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:44
Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)

Ursula Le Guin begins her lecture with Margaret Atwood by saying, “I emailed Margaret about six weeks or so ago and said, ‘What are we going to talk about?’ and she replied, ‘I expect we will talk about 1) What is fiction?; 2) What is science fiction?; 3) The ones who walk away from Omelas—where do they go?; 4) Is the human race doomed?; 5) Anything else that strikes our fancy.’” The two women proceed to examine these questions and talk through their answers. They delve into their writing processes and motives, creating many humorous analogies for the act of writing, whether they connect it to naked chickens, salted slugs, or dark boudoirs.

Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She has written over 40 books and is best known for her fiction, including The Blind Assassin, which won the Man-Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood has used her public profile to advocate for human rights, the environment, and the welfare of writers. She has been president of PEN International and helped found the Writer’s Trust of Canada. As a public intellectual, Atwood is known as a brilliant thinker on a huge range of subjects who has a wry and ironic sense of humor and who is willing to call out platitudes and other forms of lazy thinking.

Ursula K. Le Guin sold her first story over 50 years ago and has been writing and publishing ever since. Tackling various modes, including realistic fiction, science fiction, high fantasy, children’s literature, screenplays, and essays, her work has challenged traditional understandings of gender roles, politics, race, and identity. She is best known for her fantasy series Earthsea and her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. She has influenced several generations of writers, including Junot Díaz, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Jonathan Lethem. Throughout her career, she has continuously met criticism with courage, causing one critic to note, “It’s been hard for reviewers to cope with Le Guin. She’s often seemed like a writer without a critical context. But that may just mean that the context is still to come.” Among her many honors, Le Guin has received a National Book Award and, most recently, The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

If we knew everything ahead of time, we wouldn’t write the book. It would be paint by numbers and there wouldn’t be any discoveries.” – Margaret Atwood

“Rereading a book is much better than reading it. A good book reread is better than a good book read.” – Ursula Le Guin

“All doors are doors to the future, if you go into them.” – Margaret Atwood

David Remnick
48:04
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 48:04
David Remnick

With his trademark wit and humor, David Remnick shares personal stories from his career in journalism and talks about other editors and authors whom he has admired. He begins by recounting how he landed his first job at The Washington Post (narrowly dodging a placement that might have had him working in Everett, WA). He then expands on his time spent working for The Washington Post in Moscow in the late-1980s to early-1990s, where he was paid to uncover Soviet secrets, reported on the 1991 coup d’état attempt, and was often tailed by members of the KGB. Throughout the lecture, Remnick reads from his own work, and the work of others, and talks about people who have influenced his career and writing, including former Executive Editor of The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, journalist Murray Kempton, and numerous Soviet authors.

“What’s been my goal all along, and I think the goal of a lot of nonfiction writers, is to meld the techniques of the conventional novel to the demands and rigor of reporting. It’s not easy to do.”

“Something that’s very important in life is luck. I was extremely lucky to get [my first job].”

David Remnick is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post. He also has served on the New York Public Library board of trustees. In 2010 he published his sixth book, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

Siddhartha Mukherjee
53:48
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 53:48
Siddhartha Mukherjee

In this lecture, Siddhartha Mukherjee dives into the complex topic of genetic research and why he wanted to write The Gene: An Intimate History, reasons of which include his family’s own history with genetic diseases. He shares the timeline of historic discoveries in the science of genes, from Gregor Mendel’s work with inheritance patterns in pea plants to modern-day somatic cell and germ line gene therapies, and speculates on the scientific possibilities in the future of genetic research. Throughout the lecture, he asks philosophical questions that will – in the not too distant future – become very real quandaries that human beings will have to face. He asks questions such as: If you could learn more about your or your children’s genetic makeup and potential risks, would you want to know? Would that knowledge change the course of your actions? And is humanity prepared for the responsibility that will come with our growing scientific knowledge?

“Genetics is not an abstraction for me. It is one of the most concrete realities that my family has faced, and I would argue it is one of the most concrete realities that virtually every family will face.”

“In these political times, please read the chapters on race… The Victorian construction of ‘race’ is entirely arbitrary, and the fact that we are fighting about a scientific construction that’s largely arbitrary is really embarrassing.”

“This is technology that our children will be debating and talking about in a way that will make much of these current debates entirely trivial.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in NatureThe New England Journal of MedicineThe New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Michael Ondaatje
51:11
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:11
Michael Ondaatje

In this recording, Michael Ondaatje shares his fourth novel, Anil’s Ghost. He begins by giving an overview of the plot, which is set in a civil war-torn Sri Lanka at the end of the twentieth century. The story follows Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, and educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist to investigate human rights violations. Anil, along with archaeologist Sarath Diyasena, discovers the skeleton of a recently murdered man in an ancient burial ground, and becomes determined to identify the man and bring about justice to the countless nameless victims of the war. Ondaatje then shares selected readings from the novel, which paint the novel as a deeply powerful story of love, family, identity, and the attempt to unlock the hidden past.  

On Anil’s choosing of her own name: “Later, when she recalled her childhood, it was the hunger of not having that name, and the joy of getting it, that she remembered most. Everything about the name pleased her. Its slim, stripped down quality, its feminine air, even though it was considered a male name.”

“Gamini rarely saw himself from the point of view of a stranger. Though most people knew who he was, he felt he was invisible to those around him.”

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, novelist, editor and filmmaker. Ondaatje’s literary career began with his poetry in 1967, publishing the books The Dainty Monsters, and then in 1970 the critically acclaimed The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. He is widely recognized for his nationally and internationally successful novel The English Patient (1992), which was adapted into a film in 1996. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada’s most renowned living authors.

Liars’ League PDX
47:38
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Elmore Leonard
52:18
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 52:18
Elmore Leonard

In this episode of The Archive Project, Elmore Leonard shares stories, often humorous, about his correspondences with his readers—from teenagers who ask how he has perfected the portrayal of criminals in his writing to adults who sell his letters for hundreds of dollars. He also notes how the letters portray varying reactions to his writing, demonstrating how readers and writers often view the same material in contrasting ways. Leonard goes on to discuss the gap between novel writing and screenwriting and how it is ultimately a story’s characters that do all the work and have all the power, not the writers themselves.

 

They love themes in Hollywood. I never think of theme; I just think of what’s going to happen next, and I know when I reach the end. I always wait for someone else to tell me what it’s about.”

“Your [writing] style blooms from your attitude and the way you see the world.”

“What kind of writing brings in the most money? Ransom notes.”

Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925. A storyteller from the start, Leonard wrote his first play—a war story inspired by the novel All Quiet on the Western Front—at age 10, utilizing the furniture in his fifth grade classroom as stage props. In 1949, he began his professional writing career in advertising, penning Westerns on the side and primarily selling them to pulp magazines. One of his first publications, the short story “3:10 to Yuma,” went on to be adapted to film in 1957 and again in 2007. In 1961, Leonard became a full-time writer, adding crime fiction and suspense thrillers to his list of genres and publishing more than 50 novels, short stories, and screenplays throughout his 60-year career. The most famous among these includes the novella Fire in the Hole, which served as the basis for the award-winning television series Justified, and the novel Rum Punch, which was adapted into the 1997 film Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino. In total, 26 of Leonard’s novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen. He died in 2013 at the age of 87.

Francine Prose
51:37
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:37
Francine Prose

Francine Prose begins by discussing the differences and similarities between writing fiction and nonfiction, which are not always what one might assume. She finds that both require obsessive attention to detail and clarity. Reading from her novel in progress, A Changed Man, she remarks that she has “about three hundred more drafts before it’s done.” Using excerpts from several different books, Prose illustrates how language shapes character and how information is transmitted while maintaining storytelling in both genres. She teaches close reading to aspiring writers, comparing it to surgeons looking at an appendectomy, and tries to illustrate how to transmit information through showing instead of telling. With humor and great insight, Prose touches on revisions, the sources of ideas, and teaching writing.

“I knew that [my student Elissa Schappell] was going to be a real writer; she gave me a story and she called me up that evening and said, ‘I need it back.’ And I said, ‘Well, I started reading it and it seems perfectly fine.’ And she said, ‘There are five typos in it and I can’t stand to think you’re reading a story with typos in it.’ And I knew she was the real thing.”

Prose is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright. A Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.

“I can remember being in college and being taught Moby Dick for the first time and having a professor say, essentially, y’know, ‘Melville was looking for a way to talk about the struggle between good and evil, and he was looking for a symbol of evil, and he thought, “Oh, I know, the White Whale.”’ Well, once I started writing myself, I began to notice that it doesn’t actually work that way, that it seemed much more likely to me that Melville started out wanting to tell a story about a whale, and 50, 75 years later, somebody else came along and said, ‘Hmm, symbol of evil. That’s what it’s about.’”

“I’ve had writing classes where every student had a different personality disorder, and they were all kind of complimentary—they played off each other.”

Salman Rushdie
52:53
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett
51:39
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes a revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani
51:42
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:42
Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani

In this episode of The Archive Project, we’ll listen to compositions from several students who participated in the 2016 Verselandia! Poetry Slam Competition, the grand slam of the individual school slams held throughout the year. Touching on such topics as race, gender, loss, and love, these students confront issues that are core to the human experience. The top five winners for the night were:

1st Place: Tea Johnson from Grant High School

2nd Place: Lily Lamadrid from Franklin High School

3rd Place: Alexis Cannard from Roosevelt High School

4th/5th Place (tie): Zoe Stuckless from Wilson High School & Maia Abbruzzese from Lincoln High School

This episode also features an extended interview with Anis Mojgani, the host of the 2016 Verselandia! Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. He is the author of three poetry collections—Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, and Over the Anvil We Stretch—and a fully illustrated poetry memoir, The Pocketknife Bible.

 

The majority of us don’t care about poetry, or believe we don’t care about poetry, or don’t believe that it’s something for us—that it’s not something we’re smart enough to understand, that it’s for a very small percentage of people. As opposed to the idea that poetry is simply a tool for explaining what it means to be human—for processing that, for communicating that, for sharing that, and for being shared that with by others.”
—Anis Mojgani

“I always fluctuate back and forth between how much I loathe poetry and how much I love it. But one thing I don’t swing back and forth about is how much I love young folks being introduced to poetry, and writing it, and finding their voice through it.”
—Anis Mojgani

Colum McCann
51:58
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:58
Colum McCann

In this episode of The Archive Project, Colum McCann gives a talk he’s titled “Can’t Go On, Must Go On.” Drawing from the famous quote by Samuel Beckett, McCann uses this talk to explore storytelling and his refusal of cynicism. He shares insights into the inspiration and process behind some of his most famous works and discusses how four books that he’s written are connected in compelling and surprising ways. He asserts that, ultimately, all things are given to us for a purpose, including struggles and darkness, to help shape our lives.

Everywhere we’ve been is everywhere we are now, and everything experience is something that helps us move into the present moment.”

“I love writing books because I get to write what I don’t supposedly know. I get to investigate the world and see new things and go to new places.”

“We have to engage with the darkness. Only by engaging with the darkness do we recognize that there is some form of light that is apparent.”

Colum McCann is the author of six novels, including Let the Great World Spin (Random House, 2009) and three collections of stories. His most recent book is the collection Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House, 2015), a novella and three stories, which earned him praise from the Wall Street Journal: “McCann is a passionate writer whose impulse is always toward a generous understanding of his diverse characters.” Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish Arts Academy, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. He is the co-founder of the nonprofit global story exchange organization, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program at Hunter College.

Barbara Kopple
1:19:09
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 1:19:09
Barbara Kopple

In this episode of The Archive Project, Barbara Kopple opens by talking about being grateful that documentaries are moving into the mainstream, with audiences appreciating these “real-life, nonfiction films.” She then tells about her journey to becoming a filmmaker, which started while she was studying political science in college and, instead of writing a paper, decided to make a short film showcasing people who’d had lobotomies. “My professor was outraged,” she said. “I got a D….but I was hooked.” Kopple goes on to discuss her process making several films, including Winter Soldier, Harlan County, USA, American Dream, Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, Century of Women, Wild Man Blues, and My Generation. She emphasizes her desire to portray people in truthful ways—to delve deeper than the headlines and expose her audiences to new perspectives that they would never see otherwise.

Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project is the documentary Running from Crazy, which examines the personal journey of writer, model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her complex family history. Barbara has received several awards, including the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, the SilverDocs/Charles Guggenheim Award, the White House Project’s EPIC Award, the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award, and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. In 2010, Kopple received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from American University. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.

 

 

I had parents who did, and still do, everything they could for me and gave me a real sense of self so I could take risks. And I decided that I really wanted to do films that were so far from what I understood and what I knew to sort of bring me closer and make me able to communicate.”

 

“What was the most important thing for me, really, was to go beyond the headlines, and go beyond the tabloids, and really find out who this kid is, and what he’s about, in a way that nobody else could. And something that I really like to do is to look under a blanket where you’re not supposed to see, and pull things out, and that’s what I tried to do in the Mike Tyson piece.”

Tracy K. Smith
1:07:08
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 1:07:08
Tracy K. Smith

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin
51:56
2017-09-22 13:50:51 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
48:17
2017-09-22 13:50:52 UTC 48:17
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
56:59
2017-09-22 13:50:52 UTC 56:59
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

 

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

 

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.

David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)
49:59
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 49:59
David Levithan, Michelle Tea, & William Ritter (Rebroadcast)

In Another Day, best-selling author David Levithan tells the story from the side of Every Day’s Rhiannon as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you. Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, Michelle Tea’s sequel to Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, finds our hero Sophie traveling from Massachusetts to Poland with her unlikely guardian, the mermaid Syrena. And in Beastly Bones, the follow-up book to the acclaimed Jackaby, William Ritter tells of a supernatural investigation from the perspective of Abigail Rook, R.F. Jackaby’s assistant. Alison Clement, author of Twenty Questions, moderates this panel.

They like knowing there are other cultures in the world, and they rally at the opportunity to think about other societies and other ways of thinking about things. And when we only focus on one—just Western society—we miss out on lots of really cool philosophical ways of thinking about the world. – William Ritter, on teaching world mythologies

It is a really sweet feeling to create characters and then get to keep returning to them. – Michelle Tea, on writing a sequel or series

You may deploy this amazing metaphor [in your manuscript], and you’re like, ‘Wow! I’ve seen everything in a new light because of this amazing articulation that is so brilliant.’ And then when you’re revising, you’re like, ‘There is no way this character would ever have thought that.’ And so you have to kill your darling. – David Levithan, on character and voice 

David Levithan is the author of numerous books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, the Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was adapted into a film starring Michael Cera. Levithan is an editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of its PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Michelle Tea is an author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose work often explores queer culture, feminism, race, class, and prostitution, among other topics. Her award-winning memoir, Valencia, was adapted into a feature length film shot by 21 independent filmmakers as a collaborative film-arts project. Tea is the founder of the literary nonprofit RADAR Productions and the co-founder of the infamous spoke word tour, Sister Spit. She lives in San Francisco.

William Ritter is the author of two Young Adult novels, Jackaby and its sequel, Beastly Bones. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and currently teaches high school language arts and mythology. When reading aloud, he always does the voices. He lives in Springfield, Oregon.

The moderator of this panel is Alison Clement. She is the author of Pretty is As Pretty Does and Twenty Questions, which won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction through the Oregon Book Awards in 2007. Before earning her Master’s Degree, Clement had dropped out of college after reading Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society and worked a variety of jobs, including selling underground newspapers in Madison, Wisconsin; managing an occult bookstore in Normal, Illinois; and panhandling in San Francisco. She now teaches composition at a small, rural community college in Oregon.

Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)
52:53
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie (Rebroadcast)

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)
51:39
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett (Rebroadcast)

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes I revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)
1:07:08
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:07:08
Mohsin Hamid (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, author Mohsin Hamid discusses his childhood transitions from Pakistan to the United States and back again, citing Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons as two of his earliest storytelling influences. He goes on to highlight moments on his journey as a writer, including how Moth Smoke, his debut book, began as his Harvard Law thesis; how he convinced a supervisor to let him have three months off each year to work on his writing; and the most basic human trait that unites us all: mortality.

At one point, [Douglas Adams] writes that ‘the secret to flying is throwing yourself at the ground and missing.’ And that is really how I approach writing novels. I throw myself at the ground and hit, repeatedly, for years—I write draft after draft after draft…and eventually, hopefully, I miss.”

“I saw my dad playing with my daughter every morning and getting so excited about what she would be doing in five years, in ten years. And meanwhile, my father’s brother passed away, his best friend passed away, and yet my father was so excited about this future. And I realized that in some way his love for this child had altered his relationship to time.”

Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels and one collection of essays. His debut book, Moth Smoke, was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, propelling him from his career as a management consultant in New York to an author in his hometown of Lahore. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was an international best seller, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and adapted into a movie directed by Mira Nair. His book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, contains his reflections on life over the past 15 years. Hamid spent much of his childhood and early adulthood alternating between life in Pakistan and life in the United States. From this experience, Hamid has noted, “I’m somebody who can blend in usually quite quickly, but inside continues to retain a sense of feeling foreign.” In addition to living in Lahore, New York, and California, Hamid spent eights years in London following the start of his professional writing career. Of the central theme of his works, Hamid has stated, “All of my novels are love stories, in a way. I think love is kind of the plot in our lives, you know? It’s embedded in the culture and even the religion of the part of Pakistan I’m from, which is that one of the ways in which we can confront the horror of being mortal and dying one day is to love enough that we’re not so central to ourselves that we can’t face the fact that we’re going to end.”

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)
51:56
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
1:10:05
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:10:05
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
45:09
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 45:09
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)
53:35
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 53:35
Diane Ackerman (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Diane Ackerman shares the incredible, true story of Antonina Żabińska, whose diary she draws from in The Zookeeper’s Wife. She reads a selection from the book, and expands upon the history of the Żabińska family’s heroic efforts to save over 300 people during WWII by moving them through the underground railroad that ran through their home and zoo. She also expands on the, perhaps surprising, environmental views the Nazis held, including their great respect for rare plants and animals, and their conservation efforts.

 What fascinates me is how often, and with what wholeheartedness, ordinary people will perform acts of compassion, courage, and sacrifice for absolute strangers.”

“Staying emotionally limber enough to love, play, nurture, and marvel, despite all the ligatures of war, that takes a rare kind of courage.”

“[The Nazis] hoped to alter the world’s ecosystems. Not only dominate nations and politics, but the whole planet’s DNA. Changing the genetic spirals of evolution. A goal that, of course, legitimized genocide.”

“There’s been so much written about the Nazis. But for me, looking at it from a natural history perspective goes to the heart of what the Nazi lunacy was all about. Through their passion for genetics and the natural world, we can see the horror of what they were doing, but also a kind of innocent obsession with nature, and animals, and the environment – rather wholesome, all things considered – coexisting with a maniacal, sadistic, murderous racism.”

 

Diane Ackerman is a naturalist and poet and the author of ten books of literary nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses, A Natural History of Love, and Cultivating Delight. Also the author of six volumes of poetry and several nonfiction children’s books, she contributes to the New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, Parade, and many other publications. In her most recent book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the whole planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” Ackerman lives in Ithaca, New York.

Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)
1:24:03
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:24:03
Michael Pollan (Rebroadcast)

Michael Pollan begins his lecture by praising Portland for being one of the incubators of true healthy eating before moving on to discuss the new American food culture. He describes how many Americans have developed an unhealthy obsession with being healthy, which has actually backfired, as evidenced by the obesity epidemic. He labels the prevailing American ideology as “nutritionalism,” which places primacy on the mysterious “nutrient” and requires expert insight to navigate. Next, Pollan questions the assumption that the sole reason to consume food is to be healthy and encourages people to eat for pleasure, community, and spirituality as well. He goes on to describe the ways in which the food industry has benefitted from Americans’ obsession with scientific research and “miracle” ingredients. He addresses ways in which Americans can improve their current eating habits and provides suggestions for where to eat, when to eat, and how to consume natural ingredients. Pollan concludes his lecture by emphasizing the intimate relationship between all levels of the food chain.

Michael Pollan is an American journalist, activist, and professor. He is the author of four New York Times bestselling books on food and healthy eating, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Botany of Desire, which was later adapted into a PBS documentary. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan writes, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” going on to argue, “The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world.” In 2009, Pollan was named one of Newsweek’s top 10 “New Thought Leaders,” and in 2010 he was listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine. He went on to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers in 2012 and the Premio Nonino prize in 2013. He teaches at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and serves as the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Because nutrients are invisible—I mean, who’s ever seen a nutrient? Who’s ever tasted a nutrient?—they’re therefore slightly mysterious, and like many unseen things, you need experts to help you mediate your relationship to them. It’s a little bit like a religion.”

“Your personal health is not bordered by your body. You’re not a machine taking in either good or bad fuel. Your health is linked—your health depends on—the health of the whole food chain, of which you are a part.”

“Make no mistake, we are now teaching children how to become fast food consumers. We’re teaching them how to eat chicken nuggets and tater tots in ten minutes.”

Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)
1:11:42
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:11:42
Marjane Satrapi (Rebroadcast)

In this episode, Marjane Satrapi discusses her writing and art, specifically the film production of Persepolis (2000). She first establishes that she makes “comics” not “graphic novels,” dismissing the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy among publishing companies. She also establishes that the comic form is not a genre, but an artistic medium—one that allows for narrative structures that are quite different from books and paintings. She goes on to explain that she wanted to stay true to this medium throughout the film production of Persepolis and touches on her initial difficulties with the extremely social moviemaking process in contrast to the solitude of creating comics. Her humor is evident when she talks of the luxury of civilization, the need for gaining distance—in terms of both time and geography—from a personal story to tell it well, and the challenges of traveling as an Iranian with a French passport.

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French graphic novelist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author. She was born in Iran in 1969 and grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family, attending the Lycee Francais until she left for Vienna and, later, Strasbourg to study Decorative Arts. She eventually moved to France, where she now lives with her husband, Mattias Ripa. Satrapi has worked on many graphic novels and animated films, but she attracted worldwide attention for her autobiographical comic series Persepolis. The work chronicles her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. In 2007, Persepolis was adapted into a critically acclaimed animated film of the same name that received over 25 major international award nominations and over 15 major international awards.

This use of humor was very, very important for me. And the comic gave me this possibility. And, as I said before, it also gave me [the] possibility to use this humor without falling into cynicism. Because if there is one thing that I really hate over all, it’s cynicism.”

“I wouldn’t call my work an autobiography, because an autobiography is normally a book that you make because you have problems with your family and friends and you don’t dare to say it to them, so you make a book and, you know, you solve your problem with people. Believe me, I am not like that.”

“Any intellectual and any artistic work, by definition, is an anti-fanatic work. Fanaticism presses on the button of emotion…When you make an intellectual and artistic work— when you don’t pretend that you have the answers, but you only have questions to ask—when you make this work, for the person who listens to or reads you, not only do you ask them to be smart, but to work—to try to find the answers themselves.”

Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)
1:06:30
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:06:30
Don DeLillo in conversation with Noah Hawley (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Don DeLillo and Noah Hawley begin at the end, discussing DeLillo’s writing process for each segment of his novels from finish to start. Throughout this conversation, DeLillo delves into some of the research related to several of the books he has written throughout his career. He and Hawley also compare the process of writing a novel to the process of writing for television or film.

I go sentence by sentence, word by word, and the sentences seem to extend themselves into paragraphs . . . For me there is an element of a certain mystery. The language itself is what matters most to me, and then people evolve out this; people evolve out of words.” – Don DeLillo

“I think there is that novelist tool as well where you write stuff that you don’t know why it’s in there and then months later you have that eureka moment where you realize where you’re going to pay it off.” – Noah Hawley

Don DeLillo was born in 1936 and grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. As a teenager, he spent many of his work hours reading William Faulkner, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and Ernest Hemingway—writers who would have great influence on his later work. After graduating college and a brief stint as an advertising copywriter, DeLillo lived cheaply in a Manhattan studio apartment and started to work on his first novel, Americana, which was published in 1971. He went on from there to publish 14 more novels, including White NoiseLibraUnderworldFalling Man, and his latest novel, Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, among other accolades.

Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo. He is adapting Don DeLillo’s Zero K for film.

Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)
47:38
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX (Rebroadcast)

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)
51:24
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:24
Malcolm Gladwell (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Malcolm Gladwell examines the idea of the underdog (namely, why the underdog persists in their quest despite the odds) through the story of Alva Belmont, also known as Alva Vanderbilt, a prominent multi-millionaire American socialite and major figure of the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.

“Why do underdogs fight? We have all of these cases, in all sorts of contexts, where the weaker party in a conflict continues to rebel long after we feel like they should, when the odds seemed overwhelming stacked against them, when the logic of the situation would suggest that what they really should do is give up. But they don’t give up. They keep fighting.”

“Nothing serves as a greater engine of defiance than the condition of being denied standing and neutrality.”        

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Prior to that, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)
1:06:58
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:06:58
Tracy K. Smith (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)
51:44
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:44
Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood (Rebroadcast)

Ursula Le Guin begins her lecture with Margaret Atwood by saying, “I emailed Margaret about six weeks or so ago and said, ‘What are we going to talk about?’ and she replied, ‘I expect we will talk about 1) What is fiction?; 2) What is science fiction?; 3) The ones who walk away from Omelas—where do they go?; 4) Is the human race doomed?; 5) Anything else that strikes our fancy.’” The two women proceed to examine these questions and talk through their answers. They delve into their writing processes and motives, creating many humorous analogies for the act of writing, whether they connect it to naked chickens, salted slugs, or dark boudoirs.

Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She has written over 40 books and is best known for her fiction, including The Blind Assassin, which won the Man-Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood has used her public profile to advocate for human rights, the environment, and the welfare of writers. She has been president of PEN International and helped found the Writer’s Trust of Canada. As a public intellectual, Atwood is known as a brilliant thinker on a huge range of subjects who has a wry and ironic sense of humor and who is willing to call out platitudes and other forms of lazy thinking.

Ursula K. Le Guin sold her first story over 50 years ago and has been writing and publishing ever since. Tackling various modes, including realistic fiction, science fiction, high fantasy, children’s literature, screenplays, and essays, her work has challenged traditional understandings of gender roles, politics, race, and identity. She is best known for her fantasy series Earthsea and her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. She has influenced several generations of writers, including Junot Díaz, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Jonathan Lethem. Throughout her career, she has continuously met criticism with courage, causing one critic to note, “It’s been hard for reviewers to cope with Le Guin. She’s often seemed like a writer without a critical context. But that may just mean that the context is still to come.” Among her many honors, Le Guin has received a National Book Award and, most recently, The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

If we knew everything ahead of time, we wouldn’t write the book. It would be paint by numbers and there wouldn’t be any discoveries.” – Margaret Atwood

“Rereading a book is much better than reading it. A good book reread is better than a good book read.” – Ursula Le Guin

“All doors are doors to the future, if you go into them.” – Margaret Atwood

David Remnick
48:04
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 48:04
David Remnick

With his trademark wit and humor, David Remnick shares personal stories from his career in journalism and talks about other editors and authors whom he has admired. He begins by recounting how he landed his first job at The Washington Post (narrowly dodging a placement that might have had him working in Everett, WA). He then expands on his time spent working for The Washington Post in Moscow in the late-1980s to early-1990s, where he was paid to uncover Soviet secrets, reported on the 1991 coup d’état attempt, and was often tailed by members of the KGB. Throughout the lecture, Remnick reads from his own work, and the work of others, and talks about people who have influenced his career and writing, including former Executive Editor of The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, journalist Murray Kempton, and numerous Soviet authors.

“What’s been my goal all along, and I think the goal of a lot of nonfiction writers, is to meld the techniques of the conventional novel to the demands and rigor of reporting. It’s not easy to do.”

“Something that’s very important in life is luck. I was extremely lucky to get [my first job].”

David Remnick is an American journalist, writer, and magazine editor. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998. He was named Editor of the Year by Advertising Age in 2000. Before joining The New Yorker, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post. He also has served on the New York Public Library board of trustees. In 2010 he published his sixth book, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

Siddhartha Mukherjee
53:48
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 53:48
Siddhartha Mukherjee

In this lecture, Siddhartha Mukherjee dives into the complex topic of genetic research and why he wanted to write The Gene: An Intimate History, reasons of which include his family’s own history with genetic diseases. He shares the timeline of historic discoveries in the science of genes, from Gregor Mendel’s work with inheritance patterns in pea plants to modern-day somatic cell and germ line gene therapies, and speculates on the scientific possibilities in the future of genetic research. Throughout the lecture, he asks philosophical questions that will – in the not too distant future – become very real quandaries that human beings will have to face. He asks questions such as: If you could learn more about your or your children’s genetic makeup and potential risks, would you want to know? Would that knowledge change the course of your actions? And is humanity prepared for the responsibility that will come with our growing scientific knowledge?

“Genetics is not an abstraction for me. It is one of the most concrete realities that my family has faced, and I would argue it is one of the most concrete realities that virtually every family will face.”

“In these political times, please read the chapters on race… The Victorian construction of ‘race’ is entirely arbitrary, and the fact that we are fighting about a scientific construction that’s largely arbitrary is really embarrassing.”

“This is technology that our children will be debating and talking about in a way that will make much of these current debates entirely trivial.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in NatureThe New England Journal of MedicineThe New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Michael Ondaatje
51:11
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:11
Michael Ondaatje

In this recording, Michael Ondaatje shares his fourth novel, Anil’s Ghost. He begins by giving an overview of the plot, which is set in a civil war-torn Sri Lanka at the end of the twentieth century. The story follows Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, and educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist to investigate human rights violations. Anil, along with archaeologist Sarath Diyasena, discovers the skeleton of a recently murdered man in an ancient burial ground, and becomes determined to identify the man and bring about justice to the countless nameless victims of the war. Ondaatje then shares selected readings from the novel, which paint the novel as a deeply powerful story of love, family, identity, and the attempt to unlock the hidden past.  

On Anil’s choosing of her own name: “Later, when she recalled her childhood, it was the hunger of not having that name, and the joy of getting it, that she remembered most. Everything about the name pleased her. Its slim, stripped down quality, its feminine air, even though it was considered a male name.”

“Gamini rarely saw himself from the point of view of a stranger. Though most people knew who he was, he felt he was invisible to those around him.”

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, novelist, editor and filmmaker. Ondaatje’s literary career began with his poetry in 1967, publishing the books The Dainty Monsters, and then in 1970 the critically acclaimed The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. He is widely recognized for his nationally and internationally successful novel The English Patient (1992), which was adapted into a film in 1996. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada’s most renowned living authors.

Liars’ League PDX
47:38
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 47:38
Liars’ League PDX

This Liars’ League event is filled with stories on the theme “Natives & Transplants,” and features stories by writers Lowrey Brown, Vanessa McKiel, Dan Coxon, Evelyn Sharenov and Hamish Rickett; performed by actors Karen Farley, Reema Zaman, Gabriella Kirby, Kim Bogus and Karen J. Moore. This event was hosted at Literary Arts on February 18th, 2017.

Liars’ League was founded in London and has taken root in New York City, Hong Kong and Portland. The company is devoted to creative collaboration through showcasing great new writers and talented local performers. With a specific theme in mind for each show, Liars’ League calls upon writers to submit thought provoking and emotionally engaging short fiction, which a crew of actors then rehearses and performs in front of a live audience. To learn more about Liars’ League, visit http://www.liarsleaguepdx.com.

Elmore Leonard
52:18
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 52:18
Elmore Leonard

In this episode of The Archive Project, Elmore Leonard shares stories, often humorous, about his correspondences with his readers—from teenagers who ask how he has perfected the portrayal of criminals in his writing to adults who sell his letters for hundreds of dollars. He also notes how the letters portray varying reactions to his writing, demonstrating how readers and writers often view the same material in contrasting ways. Leonard goes on to discuss the gap between novel writing and screenwriting and how it is ultimately a story’s characters that do all the work and have all the power, not the writers themselves.

 

They love themes in Hollywood. I never think of theme; I just think of what’s going to happen next, and I know when I reach the end. I always wait for someone else to tell me what it’s about.”

“Your [writing] style blooms from your attitude and the way you see the world.”

“What kind of writing brings in the most money? Ransom notes.”

Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925. A storyteller from the start, Leonard wrote his first play—a war story inspired by the novel All Quiet on the Western Front—at age 10, utilizing the furniture in his fifth grade classroom as stage props. In 1949, he began his professional writing career in advertising, penning Westerns on the side and primarily selling them to pulp magazines. One of his first publications, the short story “3:10 to Yuma,” went on to be adapted to film in 1957 and again in 2007. In 1961, Leonard became a full-time writer, adding crime fiction and suspense thrillers to his list of genres and publishing more than 50 novels, short stories, and screenplays throughout his 60-year career. The most famous among these includes the novella Fire in the Hole, which served as the basis for the award-winning television series Justified, and the novel Rum Punch, which was adapted into the 1997 film Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino. In total, 26 of Leonard’s novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen. He died in 2013 at the age of 87.

Francine Prose
51:37
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:37
Francine Prose

Francine Prose begins by discussing the differences and similarities between writing fiction and nonfiction, which are not always what one might assume. She finds that both require obsessive attention to detail and clarity. Reading from her novel in progress, A Changed Man, she remarks that she has “about three hundred more drafts before it’s done.” Using excerpts from several different books, Prose illustrates how language shapes character and how information is transmitted while maintaining storytelling in both genres. She teaches close reading to aspiring writers, comparing it to surgeons looking at an appendectomy, and tries to illustrate how to transmit information through showing instead of telling. With humor and great insight, Prose touches on revisions, the sources of ideas, and teaching writing.

“I knew that [my student Elissa Schappell] was going to be a real writer; she gave me a story and she called me up that evening and said, ‘I need it back.’ And I said, ‘Well, I started reading it and it seems perfectly fine.’ And she said, ‘There are five typos in it and I can’t stand to think you’re reading a story with typos in it.’ And I knew she was the real thing.”

Prose is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright. A Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.

“I can remember being in college and being taught Moby Dick for the first time and having a professor say, essentially, y’know, ‘Melville was looking for a way to talk about the struggle between good and evil, and he was looking for a symbol of evil, and he thought, “Oh, I know, the White Whale.”’ Well, once I started writing myself, I began to notice that it doesn’t actually work that way, that it seemed much more likely to me that Melville started out wanting to tell a story about a whale, and 50, 75 years later, somebody else came along and said, ‘Hmm, symbol of evil. That’s what it’s about.’”

“I’ve had writing classes where every student had a different personality disorder, and they were all kind of complimentary—they played off each other.”

Salman Rushdie
52:53
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 52:53
Salman Rushdie

In this lecture, recorded shortly following the 25th anniversary of the publication of his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie shares personal stories and his insights from his time spent in hiding. The consequences Rushdie faced following The Satanic Verses, largely from the fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, are brought to life in his memoir Joseph Anton, which takes its title from the assumed name he traveled under. He shares stories of his personal encounters wrought with dark comedy and talks about the delight of his return to normalcy. He also clears up some common misconceptions about the book, explaining how it was written to be a funny novel and how it is largely about the migrant experience of Indians relocating to the UK.

 

There are absolutes that have to do with our nature as human beings, and one of those absolutes, perhaps the bedrock of those absolutes, is the freedom of expression, because without that freedom all the other freedoms disappear.”

“It’s not difficult to defend the freedom of speech of people that you agree with or people who don’t particularly upset you. It’s when somebody says something that you think is genuinely objectionable and awful, that’s when you discover if you believe in free speech.”

“The secret of an open society is that people will say things you don’t like, and you have to just deal with it.”

 

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize. His epic fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett
51:39
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:39
Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett

This episode of The Archive Project features best-selling authors, and long-time pen pals, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Their devoted and supportive friendship sparkles throughout their conversation as they weave comfortably through topics at the forefront of their lives as high-profile female authors.

Taking an honest and open approach, they discuss the challenge of balancing the demands of being professional, committed writers while simultaneously facing expectations from society, as women, to spend time and energy on nurturing, supporting, and caring for others. They also discuss fame and the desire/necessity for privacy and invisibility from the public eye, as well as the ups and downs of writing fiction and dedicating themselves to this craft.

 

We should be miked whenever we’re together.”

“You have to write the thing that causes a revolution in your mind. …The thing that makes your heart race, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, that you can’t not write.”

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels and three books of nonfiction, including The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, State of Wonder, Truth & Beauty, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her Books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November of 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores publicly. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Elizabeth Gilbert was born and raised in rural Connecticut, living on her family’s Christmas tree farm. She is best known for her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which was also turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film. The memoir was an international bestseller, having sold more than 10 million copies in thirty different languages. In addition to her memoirs, biographies, and other works of nonfiction, she has also written two novels: Stern Men and The Signature of All Things. The Signature of All Things was recognized as a Best Book of 2013 in The New York Times. 

Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani
51:42
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:42
Verselanda! featuring Portland High School Students and Anis Mojgani

In this episode of The Archive Project, we’ll listen to compositions from several students who participated in the 2016 Verselandia! Poetry Slam Competition, the grand slam of the individual school slams held throughout the year. Touching on such topics as race, gender, loss, and love, these students confront issues that are core to the human experience. The top five winners for the night were:

1st Place: Tea Johnson from Grant High School

2nd Place: Lily Lamadrid from Franklin High School

3rd Place: Alexis Cannard from Roosevelt High School

4th/5th Place (tie): Zoe Stuckless from Wilson High School & Maia Abbruzzese from Lincoln High School

This episode also features an extended interview with Anis Mojgani, the host of the 2016 Verselandia! Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. He is the author of three poetry collections—Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, and Over the Anvil We Stretch—and a fully illustrated poetry memoir, The Pocketknife Bible.

 

The majority of us don’t care about poetry, or believe we don’t care about poetry, or don’t believe that it’s something for us—that it’s not something we’re smart enough to understand, that it’s for a very small percentage of people. As opposed to the idea that poetry is simply a tool for explaining what it means to be human—for processing that, for communicating that, for sharing that, and for being shared that with by others.”
—Anis Mojgani

“I always fluctuate back and forth between how much I loathe poetry and how much I love it. But one thing I don’t swing back and forth about is how much I love young folks being introduced to poetry, and writing it, and finding their voice through it.”
—Anis Mojgani

Colum McCann
51:58
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:58
Colum McCann

In this episode of The Archive Project, Colum McCann gives a talk he’s titled “Can’t Go On, Must Go On.” Drawing from the famous quote by Samuel Beckett, McCann uses this talk to explore storytelling and his refusal of cynicism. He shares insights into the inspiration and process behind some of his most famous works and discusses how four books that he’s written are connected in compelling and surprising ways. He asserts that, ultimately, all things are given to us for a purpose, including struggles and darkness, to help shape our lives.

Everywhere we’ve been is everywhere we are now, and everything experience is something that helps us move into the present moment.”

“I love writing books because I get to write what I don’t supposedly know. I get to investigate the world and see new things and go to new places.”

“We have to engage with the darkness. Only by engaging with the darkness do we recognize that there is some form of light that is apparent.”

Colum McCann is the author of six novels, including Let the Great World Spin (Random House, 2009) and three collections of stories. His most recent book is the collection Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House, 2015), a novella and three stories, which earned him praise from the Wall Street Journal: “McCann is a passionate writer whose impulse is always toward a generous understanding of his diverse characters.” Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish Arts Academy, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. He is the co-founder of the nonprofit global story exchange organization, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program at Hunter College.

Barbara Kopple
1:19:09
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:19:09
Barbara Kopple

In this episode of The Archive Project, Barbara Kopple opens by talking about being grateful that documentaries are moving into the mainstream, with audiences appreciating these “real-life, nonfiction films.” She then tells about her journey to becoming a filmmaker, which started while she was studying political science in college and, instead of writing a paper, decided to make a short film showcasing people who’d had lobotomies. “My professor was outraged,” she said. “I got a D….but I was hooked.” Kopple goes on to discuss her process making several films, including Winter Soldier, Harlan County, USA, American Dream, Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, Century of Women, Wild Man Blues, and My Generation. She emphasizes her desire to portray people in truthful ways—to delve deeper than the headlines and expose her audiences to new perspectives that they would never see otherwise.

Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project is the documentary Running from Crazy, which examines the personal journey of writer, model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her complex family history. Barbara has received several awards, including the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, the SilverDocs/Charles Guggenheim Award, the White House Project’s EPIC Award, the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award, and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. In 2010, Kopple received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from American University. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.

 

 

I had parents who did, and still do, everything they could for me and gave me a real sense of self so I could take risks. And I decided that I really wanted to do films that were so far from what I understood and what I knew to sort of bring me closer and make me able to communicate.”

 

“What was the most important thing for me, really, was to go beyond the headlines, and go beyond the tabloids, and really find out who this kid is, and what he’s about, in a way that nobody else could. And something that I really like to do is to look under a blanket where you’re not supposed to see, and pull things out, and that’s what I tried to do in the Mike Tyson piece.”

Tracy K. Smith
1:07:08
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 1:07:08
Tracy K. Smith

In this episode of The Archive Project, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Tracy K. Smith, explores why our position as readers and writers continues to be crucial to the viability of our culture. She discusses literature’s role in both her private and public life, shares excerpts from her own writings, and gives insights into the process and struggle by which her poems come about. She also shares selections from other writers, including George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Yaa Gyasi, Solmaz Sharif, and Federico García Lorca, describing the achievements these writers have made with their works, and why those achievements have impacted her and are valuable.

The success of both of those poems, and any poem really, relies upon creating a palpable sense of encounter with the reader; creating a discernable mindset, a mood, a time and a place where the poem’s speaker and its reader might meet.”

“Literature is about facilitating the necessary realization that we are not so very different from those we pity and those we abhor.”

“As a writer, I’m convinced that the only defense against the degradations of our market-driven culture and our increasingly vulnerable political process is to cleave to language that fosters humility, awareness of complexity, commitment to the lives of others, and a resistance to the overly-easy and the patently false.”

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, and three books of poetry, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011). Toi Derricotte said of Smith’s work: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.” Among her many honors and awards, Smith was the recipient of the 2014 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, which is awarded to one poet each year in recognition of distinguished poetic achievement. She is currently the Director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program.

Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin
51:56
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 51:56
Michael Lewis in conversation with Hanna Rosin

In this episode of The Archive Project, Michael Lewis – in conversation with NPR’s Hanna Rosin – discusses his latest book, The Undoing Project. He describes the unique and powerful emotional core of the working relationship between Nobel-Prize winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, the monumental work they did in the field of mental biases and flawed perceptions, and why he was inspired to put their story to page.

On the work/relationship between Kahnerman & Tversky: “The ideas don’t happen without the love affair. The work they do together is unlike the work they do apart. It is a pure collaboration.” 

“On accessibly writing on difficult topics: “I don’t want to try to seem smarter than my reader, because I don’t feel smarter than my reader.”

“On our flawed memory and mental biases: “We’re always responding to the last tragedy. We’re not calculating the odds in any way. We’re only responding to what just happened.”

Michael Lewis, the author of the best-selling books Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys, and The Big Short, will join NPR’s Hanna Rosin for a live onstage interview. His latest book, The Undoing Project (December 2016), examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision-making and judgment offered new trends in behavioral economics, politics, advanced medicine, and sports.

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes podcast charts. She is the author of several books, including The End of Men. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and GQ magazine.

Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)
48:17
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 48:17
Mary Oliver (Rebroadcast)

Mary Oliver reads poems from several of her collections, focusing on brief images of the natural world that she believes people need to attend. These poems include “Messenger,” “Thirst,” “Percy 1,” “The Swan,” “Beans,” “Swimming with Otter,” “Wild Geese,” “Percy 2,” “There you were and it was like spring,” and “The Sun.” Between poems, Oliver shares details about her personal life, including her time as a teacher and her time spent observing the world with the help of her partner, photographer Mary Cook.

 

 Certainly anybody who starts reading a sentence has the curiosity to finish that one sentence, yes? And this is why I’ve kind of done what you could do with dashes and semicolons and so forth. A good number of my poems are 36 lines long and one sentence.”

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness and empathy was necessary if the attention was to matter.”

“People travel to keep from crying in place.”

A notoriously private person, Mary Oliver has been described by The New York Times as “far and away America’s best-selling poet,” and has written more than 30 collections of poetry and nonfiction. Her allocates include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a Lannan Literary Award. While she never formally completed a degree, Oliver has received honorary doctorates from four institutions, including Dartmouth College and Tufts University. As a teenager, Oliver lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind. In her review of Oliver’s poetry, Maxine Kumin noted that Oliver “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal,” acting as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Though Oliver currently resides in Florida, she lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for roughly 40 years with her partner, photographer Mary Cook, and the location has served as the inspiration for much of her work.

Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)
56:59
2017-09-23 00:40:21 UTC 56:59
Carlos Fuentes (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of The Archive Project, Carlos Fuentes gives a talk titled “After the Cold War: The Rise of a New Agenda.” It is the keynote address for a conference intended to help Oregonians put into a global perspective the cultural, economic, and political significance of the emerging Hispanic population of Oregon and the United States. Fuentes discusses the changes taking place in the world since the end of World War II, mainly focusing on the increases in technology and economy brought on by rapid globalization. Because of this globalization, he says, it is incredibly significant to bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” He makes the case that the solution to many of the divisions in the world lies in coexistence, collaboration, and understanding.

 

The problem that is rushing forward to meet and embrace us is that of the other—learning to live in our new multi-polar world with he or she who is not like you and me.”

“Melting pots are now either unmelting or brimming over, for the city of the 21st century is demanding that we not only assimilate the foreign, but that finally we accept its continual cultural personality.”

 

Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican novelist, playwright, critic, and diplomat referred to by The New York Times as “Mexico’s elegant public intellectual and a grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world.” His novel The Old Gringo earned him international acclaim in 1985 and was made into a movie featuring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. It was the first book by a Mexican novelist to become a bestseller in the United States. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, as well as the National Order of Merit, France’s highest civilian award to a foreigner, and was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.