Friday, July 6, 2007


As you know, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Through iTunes, I subscribe to Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR. A lot of these interviews have to do with the war, the Supreme Court, and politics. Very valuable information, to be sure, but the ones I care most about are the interviews with actors, comedians, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists. I always get something inspiring, heartening, or instructive from these people, even if they are working in a completely different medium. Yesterday, I heard something that reinforced my belief about how good it is for us artists to listen to other artists. Gross was interviewing Mary Weiss, former lead singer of the Shangi-Las, who has just come out with her first solo CD. Gross asked what it was that brought Weiss out of her 40-year "hiatus" from the music industry. And you know what Weiss said inspired her to sing on record again? It was something she heard Iggy Pop say on another Fresh Air interview! See? When we artists listen to each other, wonderful things can happen.

Later, I was in a traffic jam, and I listened to another Fresh Air interview on the radio. This time the subject was Carol Muske-Dukes, author of the semi-autobiographical novel Channeling Mark Twain, which is about a young woman who established a creative writing program for women prisoners on Riker's Island. Maybe you heard it. It's a good one with a lot of insight on writing and why it's important. A particularly moving part of the interview was when Muske-Dukes talked about what she'd learned from her own experience of teaching writing to the prisoners. She describes how writing became necessary for these prisoners' survival. I know you can relate to that. Today I'll get the download, and I'll listen to it again. I'm sure I'll get even more out of it the second time around.

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