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WNYC's Talk to Me


Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond.

Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond.
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Talk to Me brings you downloadable readings and conversations with writers, artists, and scholars recorded at cultural institutions in New York City and beyond.






Time and Space and Philip Glass: The Iconic Artist Talks at BAM

In 1976, the New York premiere of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s “Einstein on the Beach” captivated audiences, polarized critics and put both artists on the map of contemporary performance art. In four-and-a half hours, its famously reductive score, enigmatic text and limpid, tensile choreography (by Lucinda Childs) teases out the meaning of the time/space continuum. The work’s first New York revival in twenty years opens Friday evening as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next...


Fighting Words: Churchill's Granddaughter Offers a Model for Leadership

“If you are going to go through hell, keep going.” This is just one of the many robust adages coined by Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. A new exhibition at the Morgan Library Museum called “Churchill: The Power of Words,” which showcased his long, celebrated career as a statesman, writer, and orator, opened on Friday. Churchill's inspirational speeches and radio broadcasts helped to guide England from its darkest to its finest hour during the long years of fighting and the...

A Reporter's Perspective on War at PEN World Voices

The PEN America Center’s organizational focus is the effect of world events on the safety and freedom of expression of writers, so the topic of war naturally looms large in its cultural consciousness. As part of the recent PEN World Voices Festival, Polish journalist and author Wojciech Jagielski was interviewed by Joel Whitney, a founding editor ofGuernica: A Magazine of Art Politics. Jagielski began his career on assignment in the former Soviet Union and then spent a decade in...


Rushdie Talk on Censorship Wraps Up PEN Festival

The 2012 PEN World Voices Festival ended with a talk about censorship at the Cooper Union by novelist Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses). After the speech, the PEN festival founder had a conversation with writer Gary Shteyngart (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Super Sad True Love Story). Peter Godwin, the president of PEN American Center, and Laszlo Jakab Orsos, PEN World Voices Director, introduced Rushdie before he gave the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture...


Jennifer Egan on How to Create Your Own Rules at PEN

Earlier in May, Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief for the Slate group, and author Jennifer Egan discussed Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, genre-busting novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, and her writing process at The New School. Their conversation was part of the annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Bon Mots Weisberg on the incredible likability of A Visit from the Goon Squad: “The thing about this book is I don’t know anybody who disliked it. You can get an argument...


Who Will Rule Britannia? Patrick Jephson Weighs in at Bonham’s

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 86th birthday on April 21, and the entire Commonwealth is preparing to honor her on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee on June 5. So a look at the future of the British monarchy is timely, and one take on this rich topic was offered at Bonham’s New York auction house on April 30 by a very privileged observer: former Royal Naval Officer Patrick Jephson, who served for eight years as private secretary and chief of staff to the late Princess of Wales....


Lovely Bones: Celebrating Anne Sexton at the Cornelia Street Caf

The poet Anne Sexton took her own life in 1974, but had she lived, this year would have marked her 83rd birthday. Reason enough, thought the actor Paul Hecht, to organize an elegant tribute to her at the Cornelia Street Caf on Nov. 14. Two strong women — Kathleen Chalfant and Jennifer Van Dyck — took turns mapping Sexton’s somewhat fragile life through the ley lines of her verse. Even without knowing how it ended, it was possible to glimpse a conflicted mind through the shifting surfaces...


Janet Malcolm and Ian Frazier Talk Shop at The New Yorker Festival

Late last month, journalist Janet Malcolm had a conversation with New Yorker writer Ian Frazier at The New Yorker Festival. Malcolm's writing has been appearing in The New Yorker — as well as in other outlets — for almost 50 years. From her first piece published in the magazine (a poem, followed by a monthly column entitled "About the House"), to the keenly descriptive, long-form investigative articles that have become her trademark, Malcolm's career trajectory can be very clearly plotted...


The Call of Things: Jane Bennett Talks About Hoarders at the Vera List Cent

“Les chose sont contre nous” ("Things are against us") is the wry slogan of Paul Jennings’ parodic philosophy resistentialism*. But Professor Jane Bennett of Johns Hopkins University doesn’t think so. (*For more on resistentialism, check out: Paul Jennings, "Report on Resistentialism," The Jenguin Pennings, 1963.) Bennett, who is the author of “Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things” (Duke, 2010), presented a provocative digest of her own material philosophy at a lecture at the New...


Game of Thrones: Sir Peter Hall and Michael Boyd in Conversation

In honor of its 50th birthday, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) brought together company founder Sir Peter Hall and current Artistic Director Michael Boyd in conversation at the Park Avenue Armory where the RSC is currently in residence. Their talk was guided by company ensemble member (and RSC board member) Noma Dumezweni, but the two men needed little prompting to embark on a combination of reminiscence and philosophical discourse. They discussed the importance of ensemble acting; the...


'Speak the Speech I Pray You': Directors Weigh in on Bringing Shakespeare t

The second of four panel discussions held in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) residency at The Park Avenue Armory focused on “Directing Shakespeare." David Farr, the RSC's associate director and director of "King Lear" and "The Winter’s Tale" in the company's New York repertoire was joined by Arin Arbus, Associate Artistic Director of The Theater for a New Audience; Karin Coonrod, the founding director of the Arden Party Theater Company; and Mark Lamos, Artistic...


Talk To Me: A Happy Beginning for Happy Ending

The Happy Ending Music Reading Series is celebrating a happy beginning. The series performance on June 8 at Joe’s Pub marked the launch of Happy Ending’s partnership with Yaddo, an artists’ working community based in Saratoga Springs, New York. Starting next fall, the series will produce three shows featuring entirely Yaddo-affiliated artists. Wednesday night, Suzanne Bocanegra and Kyle deCamp performed a collaborative visual and performance piece, and Amor Towles read from his new novel....


Talk to Me: New Orleans as Paradox

New Orleans manages to leave a mark, good or bad, on its tourists, natives, and those who've decided to take up roots there. Most people who visit have a great time, but many can attest to how the city's unique insular culture, history and traditions can be as frustrating as they are fascinating. As part of the 2011 Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature, five distinguished New Orleans writers — Sarah Broom, Richard Campanella, Nicholas Lemann, Fatima Sheik and Billy Sothern...


Talk to Me: From Russia with Love at the Greene Space

Are you craving a little continental culture? Do you need a good book recommendation? Both were on offer on Tuesday, April 26, when New York Public Radio's Jerome L. Greene Space hosted a literary salon as part of the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival. The event: “From Russia with Love,” featured Russian poetry, criticism, and classical music. This year, PEN invited members of the National Book Critics Circle to come to each event and recommend notable books. Jane Ciabattari, the president of...


Behind 'War Horse': The Puppeteers at The New School

One of the most powerful aspects of “War Horse,” which opened at Lincoln Center on April 14, is, of course, the astonishing puppets. Minutes into this riveting tale of a boy and his horse against the background of World War I (see our feature here), the audience has completely invested the “horses” with life. This is just what the co-founders of the Handspring Puppet Company, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, who developed the production with Great Britain’s National Theatre, intended....


Cornelia Street Caf Says Happy Birthday to Shakespeare

It’s a good thing that William Shakespeare was born in the spring—April 26—because his sonnets are crammed with sumptuous images of ripe nature bursting its bounds. And for a good many years the Cornelia Street Caf has celebrated the playwright’s birthday with a reading of selected sonnets. There is a hint of the tavern about the restaurant’s downstairs performance space, so it was well suited to the April 25 performance put together by veteran actor Paul Hecht. Hecht was joined this year...


Talk to Me: Stranger Performances

A large swatch of artist Laurel Nakadate's work features performances in which she performs acts with strangers—and videotapes them. Nakadate recently discussed her work at UnionDocs as part of New York's "Walls and Bridges" conference. Christopher Allen, Artistic Director of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn non-profit, introduced the artist. First, Nakadate talked about her photographic, video and performance art pieces. Then, she spoke to Allen and ethicist Ruwen Ogien about the components of...


Talk to Me: Celebrating 100 Years of Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams, perhaps best-known for his plays "Streetcar Named Desire," "The Glass Menagerie," and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," is the author of a "massive body of work," in the words of N.Y.U. drama professor Joe E. Jeffreys. On the occasion of the centennial of Williams' birth—the playwright was born March 26, 1911—Jeffreys hosted the first of a three-part series at Manhattan's Museum of Arts and Design entitled The Kindness of Strangeness. (Williams fans will recognize the title of...


Talk to Me: Story Prize: Short Stories, Big Prizes

Anticipation was high at the Story Prize event at The New School's Tishman Auditorium last week. The three Story Prize finalists—Anthony Doerr ("Memory Wall"), Yiyun Li ("Gold Boy, Emerald Girl") and Suzanne Rivecca ("Death is Not an Option") read from their short story collections, knowing that, at the conclusion of the reading, one of them would win $20,000. Anthony Doerr came out the winner. Meant to honor the short story form, the Story Prize award is the largest first-prize amount of...


Talk to Me: Zadie Smith and Gemma Sieff

English writer Zadie Smith has accomplished so much in the past 11 years. Her first novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000 before she even turned 25. Now, she's got two additional novels, a number of short stories, and a growing body of criticism under her belt. Smith was also named a tenured creative writing professor at New York University last September and was recently made the critic for Harper's Magazine's "New Books" column. On Wednesday, Smith discussed her new role as critic...