Spark: More Stories About Art in Hard Times

Studio 360

Listen to full interviews with Donald Hall, Joel Meyerowitz, and Lynn Nottage.

Sometimes great art comes out of great struggle. This week, Kurt talks with Julie Burstein about artists with the power to transform: Lynn Nottage searches for moments of humor in a country at war; Donald Hall celebrates the life of his late wife in poetry; Joel Meyerowitz documents the ruins of the World Trade Center: "There were afternoons I was down there, and the light goes pink, and there's a mist in the air, and you're standing in the rubble, and I found myself recognizing both the inherent beauty of nature and the fact that nature as time is erasing this wound."

You can hear longer conversations with the artists below -- and read more about them in Spark: How Creativity Works.


Donald Hall
Donald Hall, poet

Donald Hall has published sixteen books of poetry, including The Painted Bed (2002) and Without: Poems (1998), which was published on the third anniversary of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon's death from leukemia. Hall has won the National book Critics Circle Award, two Guggenheim fellowships, and the Ruth Lilly Prize for poetry. From 1984 to 1989 he served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire. Kurt talks with Donald Hall as part of a special episode considering how artists create memorials, how we connect to them, and how long we want them to last.

(Originally broadcast: September 7, 2002)

Joel Meyerowitz
Joel Meyerowitz, photographer

For more than a decade, Joel Meyerowitz photographed the World Trade Center at dawn, at night, in every kind of weather and light. After the towers were gone, he started taking pictures right down in the World Trade Center site. Kurt talks with Meyerowitz about working among the wreckage and recovery workers, nearly every day.

(Originally broadcast: March 9, 2002)

Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage, playwright

"How does love continue to flourish in the face of such ugliness and brutality?" That's the question that drove playwright Lynn Nottage to write "Ruined" which won the Pulitzer Prize. It's set at a bar/brothel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the middle of a civil war. She tells Kurt how the play formed out of real stories she gathered from the women there. With performances by Quincy Tyler Bernstine.

(Originally broadcast: May 15, 2009)

Music from the production at Manhattan Theater Club. Performed by Condola Rashad, Dominic Kanza and Simon Shabantu Kashama. (Music by Dominic Kanza, lyrics by Lynn Nottage.)