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Headshot of a woman.
Photo courtesy of Algonquin Books

NEA Literature Fellow, Big Read author, 2013 National Medal of Arts recipient

Twenty-five years ago, Julia Alvarez published In the Time of the Butterflies, which was chosen as a Big Read title in 2010. Set in the Dominican Republic, In the Time of the Butterflies is a fictionalized account of the Mirabal sisters, three of whom were murdered by henchmen of dictator Rafael Trujillo for their resistance to his regime. The girls were known in the underground by their codename “Las Mariposas,” or butterflies. Their story was very close to Avarez's own. She spent her childhood in the Dominican Republic, but her family got out. In this podcast, Julia Alvarez discusses how In the Time of the Butterflies came to be, the rich source material she finds in her family's immigrant experience, and how her life as a reader led to her life as a writer.

Rudolfo Anaya
Photo by Marion Ettlinger

NEA Big Read Selection (Bless Me, Ultima)

Rudolfo Anaya talks about the writing of his acclaimed novel Bless Me, Ultima as well as in the influence of the oral tradition and folk tales on his writing and his life growing up in New Mexico.  [23:56]

Headshot of a man.
Photo by Gregg Mizuta

2019 National Heritage Fellow Basque musician and tradition bearer

2019 National Heritage Fellow Basque musician, teacher and restauranteur Dan Ansotegui brings his passion for the Basque culture into everything he does. But he also sees culture as a breathing entity—not something set in amber. The roots of the tree may come from the Basque Region, but those leaves are growing in Boise, Idaho. Ansotegui is a great talker. In this podcast, ­learn about Basque music, dancing, and food (he does it all!) and the deep social connections these traditions give a community.

Na'alehu Anthony

Filmmaker

Na'alehu Anthony discusses his documentary about traditional Polynesian open sea canoeing and its significance to the revitalization of Hawaiian culture. [29:47]

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Photo by Alex Brook Lynn

NEA Literature Fellow

Poet Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz talks about slam poetry and community. [22:05]

Martina Arroyo
Photo courtesy of Ms. Arroyo

NEA Opera Honors recipient

Legendary soprano Martina Arroyo talks about her career in opera, including working with such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti. [27:17]

Raymond Arsenault head shot

Historian

Raymond Arsenault's book The Sound of Freedom examines the 30-minute concert by Marian Anderson that helped move a nation forward.

Headshot of a woman.
Courtesy of Nora Atkinson

Curator of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” at the Renwick Gallery of SAAM

Curator Nora Atkinson has brought a sense of that annual hotbed of artistic ingenuity in Nevada’s Black Rock desert with the daring and successful “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.” It’s the hottest exhibit in DC appealing to all ages. The exhibit at Renwick Gallery often has lines around the block—and for good reason. It is dazzling; focusing on massive installations that fill rooms with sight and sound. But please don’t just look. Participate and play with the interactive installations; leave a remembrance behind at the temple, lie down on pillows and watch the ceiling shift and pulsate with light. The exhibit fills the museum and spills out into the streets of Washington DC. In this week’s podcast, Nora Atkinson talks about the practical and visionary aspects of bringing this very particular desert art to Washington DC.

Caron Atlas

Photo courtesy of the Arts and Democracy Project

Director, Arts and Democracy Project

Bread and Roses in a Brooklyn shelter: Caron Atlas demonstrates how the arts can be a critical component of disaster relief. [31:45]

Headshot of Julianna Baggott
Photo by Laura Ciociola

Author

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders took Julianna Baggott 18 years to write… Julianna discusses how writing 14 other novels in a variety of genres, three collections of poetry, and a children’s series helped her finish Harriet Wolf.

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