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.

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The Seams
2:30 am
Thu September 4, 2014

For 'Women In Clothes,' It's Not What You Wear, It's Why You Wear It

Artist Miranda July contributed a series of photos in which strangers try on one another's favorite outfits.
Michael Schmelling Courtesy of Blue Rider Press

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 4:36 pm

It can be hard to talk about clothes in an intelligent way. Fashion critic Kennedy Fraser once wrote in The New Yorker that the act of donning a garment can seem almost furtive or trivial, something beneath debate or intellectual content. The editors of Women in Clothes would agree that it's a challenge. The book collects essays, conversations, pictures and testimonials from more than 600 women talking about how clothes shape or reflect them as human beings.

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The Seams
4:14 am
Sat June 28, 2014

A Modern Twist On Mexican Tradition Hits The Runway

(Left) Mayan artisans from the Yucatan region hand-embroidered an armadillo onto this linen dress from Carla Fernández's Mayalands collection. (Right) This Fernandez dress is a traditional rebozo shape which honors the square root design of ancient patterns.
Ramiro Chaves/Courtesy Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 5:36 pm

In a small shed in Tenancingo, Mexico, partly open to the sky, about a half-dozen men stand behind huge wooden looms. They pedal side-by-side, their churning feet making a beautiful harmony as they craft handmade rebozos.

Rebozos, long rectangular shawls that came into style in Mexico in the 16th century, and the huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse or dress of pre-Columbian origin, are the main elements of Mexican traditional dress.

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The Seams
2:07 am
Thu May 8, 2014

The Art Of A Lost American Couturier, On Display At The Met

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 3:32 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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Pop Culture
4:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

'Baby Jane' Holzer's Flight From High Society To Warhol Superstar

Socialite and actress Baby Jane Holzer, seen here in 1966, was one of artist Andy Warhol's first superstars.
Harry Benson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 11:21 am

In the mid-1960s, society was changing; shaking off old ideas and trying on new ones for size. There were changes on the political front, like the civil rights movement and the looming war in Vietnam, as well as on the cultural front, with new celebrities popping up on TV every night.

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Race
4:14 am
Sat February 15, 2014

The Ebony Fashion Fair: Changing History On The Catwalk

A backless gown with a feather-trimmed hoodie from French designer Andre Courreges, 1974.
Courtesy of Ebony

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 11:25 am

The Johnson Publishing Company, and its flagship publication, Ebony Magazine, helped to fashion the black middle-class in America for five decades. For 50 years, from 1958 until 2009, the Ebony Fashion Fair traversed the country.

The coast-to-coast show was a pageant of haute couture that created aspirations wherever it went. It was a rite of passage for black women, who flocked to it. The show also raised $55 million for African-American charities, like the United Negro College Fund or sickle-cell anemia research.

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Opinion
11:14 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Violence Abroad Threatens Students, As Do Guns At U.S. Schools

This handout provided by the Santa Monica Police Department shows ammunition, magazines and guns believed to have been dropped by a suspected gunman during a mass shooting at Santa Monica College in June 2013.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 11:06 am

Last year, there were more than two-dozen shootings on or near college campuses in the United States. This past Tuesday, that number went up, with the fatal shooting of a student at Purdue University. Then Friday, a fatal shooting at South Carolina State University. It will, of course, tick up again.

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Remembrances
4:04 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Poems As 'Stepping Stones': Remembering Seamus Heaney

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 5:18 pm

The poet Seamus Heaney died Friday. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and has been described as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats." Heaney was 74 years old. Host Jacki Lyden spoke to Heaney in 2008, and has this remembrance.

Books
4:15 pm
Sun August 25, 2013

'Heart' Of Iranian Identity Reimagined For A New Generation

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

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 6:14 am

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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NPR Story
4:10 pm
Sat August 10, 2013

Audio As Art At New York Exhibit

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 12:26 pm

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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NPR Story
4:10 pm
Sat August 10, 2013

Florida's Highwaymen Painted Idealized Landscapes In Jim Crow South

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 12:26 pm

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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