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Jimmy Santiago Baca was in a maximum security prison. He taught himself to read and fell in love with words. Today he’s a champion of the International Poetry Slam, and the author of multiple books of verse.

Length: 
13:39
"The Tradition" book cover design by Phil Kovacevich and art by Ralphi Burgess. (Copper Canyon Press)
Articles

Jericho Brown is an award-winning poet who has been working with religious language for a long time. His poems have titles like "1 Corinthians 13:11" and "Hebrews 13." His book "The Tradition" continues to mine Brown's childhood in the church.

Length: 
13:33
Ghosts
Audio

Poet Edward Hirsch has written many collections of poetry and criticism. He wrote the long-running “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post. He spoke with Steve Paulson about his elegy to his son, “Gabriel: A Poem.”

Length: 
11:05
Karl Ove Knausgaard
Bookmarks

Given the hyper-realism of author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s "My Struggle," you might be surprised to hear that the formative books of his childhood were filled with magic and imaginary worlds. He says Ursula K. Le Guin’s "Earthsea" fantasy series shaped him as an early reader.

Length: 
4:01
Galactic kidneys
Articles

Missy Makinia donated her kidney to whoever might need it. Her transplant surgeon — Josh Mezrich — invited Shannon into his operating room to see firsthand what it takes to remove and transport a human kidney.

Length: 
26:01
Larry Brilliant
Articles

Larry Brilliant is best known as part of the United Nations team of doctors responsible for curing smallpox. But back in the 1960s, he was a hippie whose guru told him his destiny was to help cure smallpox.

Length: 
19:36
ROSS GAY
Bookmarks

Because he’s fascinated by the process of collecting and by the impulse to document everyday life, poet Ross Gay recommends “Gene Smith’s Sink,” by Sam Stephenson. It’s a portrait of another collector — the legendary documentarian and photographer, W. Eugene Smith. 

Length: 
4:04
Wendel Patrick/Kevin Gift (Via Artists' Websites)
Audio

Kevin Gift is an acclaimed classical pianist. Wendel Patrick is a rising hip hop artist. And many people have no idea as they’re the same man.

Length: 
16:19
Clarice Jensen
Articles

After 30 years of playing it, cellist Clarice Jensen decided she wanted to open up what she could do with her cello. So she started plugging it into guitar pedals.

Length: 
10:11
Susan Orlean
Bookmarks

For as long as she can remember, Susan Orlean has had a favorite book, "The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner. A Southern gothic novel set over a period of three decades, the book explores the lives of the members of one family, the Compsons. Told from multiple perspectives and set in several time periods, it’s not a chronological or easy read.

Length: 
3:01