NPR: Jacki Lyden

Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a substitute host on NPR. As a journalist who has been with NPR since 1979, Lyden regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories.

In the last five years, Lyden has reported from diverse locations including Paris, New York, the backstreets of Baghdad, the byways around rural Kentucky and spent time among former prostitutes in Nashville.

Most recently, Lyden focused her reporting on the underground, literally. In partnership with National Geographic, she and photographer Stephen Alvarez explored the catacombs and underground of the City of Light. The report of the expedition aired on Weekend Edition Sunday and was the cover story of the February 2011 National Geographic magazine.

Lyden's book, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, recounts her own experience growing up under the spell of a colorful mother suffering from manic depression. The memoir has been published in 11 foreign editions and is considered a memoir classic by The New York Times. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba has been in process as a film, based upon a script by the A-list writer, Karen Croner. She is working on a sequel to the book which will be about memory and what one can really hold on to in a tumultuous life.

Along with Scott Simon, current host of Weekend Edition Saturday, and producer Jonathan Baer, Lyden helped to pioneer NPR's Chicago bureau in 1979. Ten years later, Lyden became NPR's London correspondent and reported on the IRA in Northern Ireland.

In the summer of 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Lyden went to Amman, Jordan, where she covered the Gulf War often traveling to and reporting from Baghdad and many other Middle Eastern cites. Her work supported NPR's 1991 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Gulf War coverage. Additionally, Lyden has reported from countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Iran. In 1995, she did a groundbreaking series for NPR on Iran on the emerging civil society and dissent, called "Iran at the Crossroads."

At home in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001, Lyden was NPR's first reporter on the air from New York that day. She shared in NPR's George Foster Peabody Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Lyden later covered the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Lyden and producer Davar Ardalan received the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio and Television for best foreign documentary for "Loss and Its Aftermath." The film was about bereavement among Palestinians and Jews in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

That same year Lyden hosted the "National Story Project" on Weekend All Things Considered with internationally-acclaimed novelist Paul Auster. The book that emerged from the show, I Thought My Father Was God, became a national bestseller.

Over the years, Lyden's articles have been publications such as Granta, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a popular speaker, especially on mental health.

A graduate of Valparaiso University, Lyden was given an honorary Ph.D. from the school in 2010. She participated in Valparaiso's program of study at Cambridge University and was a 1991-92 Benton Fellow in Middle East studies at the University of Chicago.

7:58am

Thu May 8, 2014
The Seams

The Art Of A Lost American Couturier, On Display At The Met

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 4:32 pm

Thursday in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art officially reopens its fashion galleries after a $40 million, two-year renovation.

Named for Vogue magazine's editor, the Anna Wintour Costume Center features an inaugural exhibit of the work of Charles James, a flamboyant designer considered America's first couturier. This caps days of glamorous events at the Met, including the Costume Institute's benefit gala, presided over by Wintour — with Hollywood stars.

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12:06pm

Sat January 25, 2014
Opinion

Violence Abroad Threatens Students, As Do Guns At U.S. Schools

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 12:06 pm

This handout provided by the Santa Monica Police Department shows ammunition, magazines and guns believed to have been dropped by a suspected gunman during a mass shooting at Santa Monica College in June 2013.
Getty Images

Last year, there were more than two-dozen shootings on or near college campuses in the United States. This past Tuesday, that number went up, with the fatal shooting of a student at Purdue University. Then Friday, a fatal shooting at South Carolina State University. It will, of course, tick up again.

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3:18pm

Sun October 28, 2012
Commentary

Around The River Bend, A Flood Of History

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:41 pm

The Ho-Chunk Indians still consider the river to be sacred, and it's easy to feel that calm, floating along the Bark.
Liam O'Leary

The Bark River is my backyard, childhood river. And yet, in a lifetime of travel, I'd never explored it.

I knew it carved the land from the Ice Age to settlement times, from the Black Hawk War of 1832 (in which young Abraham Lincoln appears) to the era of grist mills. But the Bark also flows past impressive Indian mounds. It nurtured poets, naturalists and farmers.

When former Marquette University professor Milton Bates published his Bark River Chronicles through the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I jumped at the chance to learn about the river with him.

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3:15am

Thu July 5, 2012
Southword

Meet Al Black: Florida's Prison Painter

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 10:25 pm

Al Black is one of Florida's 26 officially recognized "Highwaymen" — a loosely affiliated group of artists who began painting in the 1960s, some of whom are still at it today.
Courtesy of Gary Monroe

In the 1960s, Al Black could be found cruising up and down Route 1 in his blue-and-white Ford Galaxy — with a trunk full of wet landscape paintings.

At the time, he was a salesman who could snatch your breath away and sell it back to you. As artist Mary Ann Carroll puts it, he could "sell a jacket to a mosquito in summer."

"A salesman is a con-man," Black readily admits himself today. He's a storyteller. And does he have stories to tell.

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12:24pm

Wed July 4, 2012
Arts & Life

The Highwaymen: Segregation And Speed-Painting In The Sunshine State

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 4:03 pm

Courtesy of Gary Monroe

In the 1960s and '70s, if you were in a doctor's office, or a funeral home, or a motel in Florida, chances are a landscape painting hung on the wall. Palms arching over the water, or moonlight on an inlet. Tens of thousands of paintings like this were created by a group of self-taught African-American artists, concentrated in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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4:03pm

Sun June 17, 2012
Arts & Life

Chanticleer: A Botanical Distraction From Daily Life

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 3:19 pm

Chanticleer is a historical estate and garden in Wayne, Pa., part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia.
Courtesy of the Lyden family

Ever wanted to just disappear into a secret garden of earthly delights, of twists and turns of evocative ruin, exuberant tropics, the Zen of a Japanese teahouse?

Consider Chanticleer, in Wayne, Pa. It's part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia. In fact, right across the street from the garden is the former home of Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, the heiress portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story.

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6:10am

Sat February 25, 2012
Arts & Life

Athena's Library, The Quirky Pillar Of Providence

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:02 am

Chilean artist Magaly Ponce looks out from the mezzanine at the Oscar Wilde party at the Providence Athenaeum.
NPR

With a bit of reverence, librarians carefully wind an antique library clock near the circulation desk in a temple of learning called the Providence Athenaeum.

This is one of the oldest libraries in the United States, a 19th-century library with the soul of a 21st-century rave party. In fact, the Rhode Island institution has been called a national model for civic engagement.

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6:16am

Sat December 31, 2011
Around the Nation

Iraqi Refugees Struggle For Peace In America

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:17 pm

Hesham Abdul Ghani and his wife, Oras Touma, came to Michigan to escape religious persecution.
Jacki Lyden NPR

The Iraq War may be officially over, but for thousands of Iraqis who fled to America during the conflict, there's no going home. Many left successful careers to settle in Detroit, where finding their future is a challenge.

The U.N. estimates several million Iraqis are now refugees — either inside Iraq or outside the country. Almost 60,000 of them have come to the Detroit metro area since 2006, drawn by the large Arab community that's been there for years.

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5:47pm

Fri December 30, 2011
Opinion

The Simple Joys Of An Old-Fashioned Datebook

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 10:05 am

What if you could hold on to time in your hands? You can, you know. You can crack open, on this New Year's Eve, the unsullied, unhurried, un-trammeled pages of an old-fashioned datebook — the kind that still arranges seven days into a week; the kind you write in with a pen and which never, ever, beeps at you to remind you of a meeting or errand.

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4:31pm

Sun November 13, 2011
Art & Design

Daphne Guinness: An Icon On Fashion's Cutting Edge

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:16 am

Eileen Costa Courtesy of The Museum at FIT

A good friend of mine is a Marcel Proust scholar and former milliner. She had just been to see fashion icon and brewery fortune heiress Daphne Guinness's exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Museum at FIT in New York when she sent me this email:

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7:39pm

Sat June 18, 2011
History

Archaeologists Unscramble Ancient Graffiti In Israel

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:44 am

Karen Stern, 35, is an archaeologist studying tomb graffiti in Israel.
W. O'Leary

Aramaic is the lingua franca of the ancient Middle East, the linguistic root of modern day Hebrew and Arabic.

"Once you understand Aramaic," says Karen Stern, "you can read anything. You can read Hebrew, you can read Phoenician. I always call it the little black dress of Semitic languages."

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8:01pm

Sat June 11, 2011
Art & Design

A Spirited Celebration Of America's 'Cocktail Culture'

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:45 am

Lillian Bassman's photograph The V‐Back Evenings shows model and actress Suzy Parker having a drink (and some fun) in 1955.
Lillian Bassman Harper's Bazaar

As you enter Cocktail Culture, an intoxicating exhibit of apparel, accoutrement and ephemera at the Rhode Island School of Design's Museum of Art, it's hard not to think of Billy Strayhorn's lyrics in his jazz standard "Lush Life":

I used to visit all those very gay places
those come-what-may places
where one relaxes on the axis of wheel of life
to get the feel of life
from jazz and cocktails

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12:01am

Wed April 27, 2011
Rising Up From Prostitution In Nashville

A Business That Helps Prostitutes Bloom In Recovery

Originally published on Mon May 2, 2011 10:06 am

People gather in a support circle at Thistle Farms.
Stephen Alvarez for NPR

Last in a three-part series.

For prostitutes looking to get drug free and off the streets, the Magdalene program in Nashville, Tenn., provides a model for healing. Magdalene offers housing, therapy and a self-sustaining small business that allows the women it serves to make money and gain respect.

That business is Thistle Farms, and the recovering women who run it make body care products by hand and paper made of thistle.

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12:01am

Tue April 26, 2011
Around the Nation

Relapse And Recovery: A Tale Of Two Prostitutes

Second in a three-part series.

One hundred and fifty former prostitutes have been through the Magdalene recovery program in Nashville, Tenn. Magdalene is a private two-year program for women with criminal histories of drug addiction and prostitution.

On a recent Saturday night, two women who completed the program drive their former "tracks" — the places prostitutes walk.

"This is the Bottoms," says Sheila Simpkins, behind the wheel.

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3:47pm

Mon April 25, 2011
Around the Nation

For Prostitutes, An Alternative To The Streets

First in a three-part series

Nashville, Tenn., is hardly a mecca for prostitution. But it thrives there just as in any other major American city.

It's also trying to break the cycle of prostitution, and often that begins with an arrest.

One afternoon in February when the vice squad went out on an undercover detail looking for prostitutes, it almost immediately found Brittany Messina.

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7:22pm

Wed April 20, 2011
The Picture Show

The Toll Of Covering Conflict

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:57 am

Award-winning photojournalist Tim Hetherington (right) known for his work in war zones, died Wednesday in the Libyan city of Misrata when he was hit by a mortar round. He is pictured here with Sebastian Junger, his co-director of the film Restrepo, which was nominated for the best-documentary Oscar this year.
Tim Hetherington

Joao Silva. Lynsey Addario. Tyler Hicks. Tim Hetherington. Chris Hondros: the names of photojournalists grievously wounded, kidnapped or killed in the line of duty since October 2010. The names and casualties of journalists harmed during conflicts seem to be mounting, leaving many of us who knew them or who have worked with them or - even those a few steps more removed - feeling a bit more vulnerable.

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