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.

5:58am

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 2:32 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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2:52pm

Sun August 25, 2013
Books

'Heart' Of Iranian Identity Reimagined For A New Generation

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 5:14 am

In "The Nightmare of Siavosh," the young exiled Iranian prince dreams of his impending demise. Upon waking, he tells his wife, Farigis, about his fears regarding the tragic events to come.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

A thousand years ago, a Persian poet named Abolqasem Ferdowsi of Tous obtained a royal commission to put the ancient legends and myths of Iran into a book of verse.

He called this epic Shahnameh, or "Epic of the Persian Kings." It took him more than three decades and comprises 60,000 couplets — twice the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined.

Author Azar Nafisi, who wrote the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says the importance of this foundational myth epic to Iranians can't really be overstated.

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3:10pm

Sat August 10, 2013
Arts & Life

Audio As Art At New York Exhibit

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF ARPEGGIO)

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Arpeggios ricochet through three speakers and envelop us. We're on the modernist Bauhaus staircase at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, listening to techno-inspired electronica. This piece is part of a new exhibit, "Soundings: A Contemporary Score," that opens today.

BARBARA LONDON: I wanted work that pushed limits, pushed boundaries.

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3:10pm

Sat August 10, 2013
History

Florida's Highwaymen Painted Idealized Landscapes In Jim Crow South

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:26 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In the winter of 2012, I came across a story on a drive through central coastal Florida in the town of Fort Pierce. Route 1 is now dominated by strip malls and fading condos, but the Florida of the 1950s and '60s was a candy-colored Eisenhower, Kennedy space-age dream of flaming red Poinciana trees and untamed beaches.

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4:21pm

Sat August 3, 2013
Arts & Life

Bespoke Suits And Perfect Cravats At 'Dandy' Exhibit

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 8:43 am

Sartorial Anarchy #5, 2012. Ike Ude, photographer. In his Sartorial Anarchy self-portraits, New York-based Nigerian-born artist Ike Ude creates composite images of the dandy across geography and chronology. Ude photographs himself in disparate ensembles, pairing, for example, a copy of an 18th-century Macaroni wig with other carefully selected vintage garments and reproductions.
Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery Ike Ude

When you hear the word dandy, what do you think of?

Maybe the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and compares the colonists to foppish, effeminate idiots: the dandies.

But a summer exhibit at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, closing Aug. 18, aims to reclaim the term. It explores dandyism through the ages, linking to the cutting edge of men's fashion and style. The name of the show is "Artist, Rebel, Dandy: Men of Fashion" — which does still leave you wondering what you might see.

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11:58pm

Sun March 10, 2013
Environment

Remembering Aldo Leopold, Visionary Conservationist And Writer

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 8:13 am

"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot. Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now, we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free." — A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanac, a collection of essays and observations, was written decades ago by Aldo Leopold, the father of the American conservation movement.

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1:18pm

Sun October 28, 2012
Commentary

Around The River Bend, A Flood Of History

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 5:41 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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1:15am

Thu July 5, 2012
Southword

Meet Al Black: Florida's Prison Painter

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 8:25 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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10:24am

Wed July 4, 2012
Arts & Life

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

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 2:03 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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2:03pm

Sun June 17, 2012
Arts & Life

Chanticleer: A Botanical Distraction From Daily Life

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 1:19 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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4:10am

Sat February 25, 2012
Arts & Life

Athena's Library, The Quirky Pillar Of Providence

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:02 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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4:16am

Sat December 31, 2011
Around the Nation

Iraqi Refugees Struggle For Peace In America

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 8:17 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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2:31pm

Sun November 13, 2011
Art & Design

Daphne Guinness: An Icon On Fashion's Cutting Edge

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:16 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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