Anne Kniggendorf | KCUR

Anne Kniggendorf

Contributor

Anne Kniggendorf is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, whose work has appeared in local media outlets as well as in the Smithsonian Magazine, Saturday Evening Post, Electric Literature, Ploughshares, and several literary reviews, including two as far away as India and Scotland.

She’s a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she did not study journalism but Western philosophy and historical mathematics. She holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in creative writing, which she thinks is close enough to journalism the way she does it. Anne is a Navy veteran.

Stray Cat Cinema

A decent-sized group of Kansas Citians will gather on Friday to watch a 1981 Western movie in 3D called “Comin’ at Ya!” The film will include scenes like one in which a boy pours grapes into a basket, but because the movie was shot in 3D, the grapes will appear to be falling toward these viewers.

According to Matthew Lloyd, the grapes have no plot significance. The character pouring the grapes is similarly inconsequential.

Eric Howarth

Jason Blackmore, front man for 1990s hardcore band Molly McGuire, is back in Kansas City this week. Instead of rocking out, though, he’ll be screening his documentary.

Never2Late Productions

“It’s so silly. Who’s not getting a day older?”

That’s more than a rhetorical question from Joicie Appell, the actress who plays an elderly Kansas woman in a new movie called “The Tree.”

“You have this chance in life to be uniquely you. Nobody else has that chance. Be as good as you can, make the best of it, do what’s right and you forget about aging,” Appell told Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard, in a conversation about “The Tree.”

So Min Kang

Mia Leonin says she felt raw while writing “Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child,” and she suspects readers will feel the same.

“Even though that’s uncomfortable, when we are raw it’s because we’re open. And when we are open, we can heal in new ways,” she says.

Brian Paulette

Those who loved Marilyn Strauss say her career and life were powered by what can only be described as a firey “chutzpah and moxie.”

Strauss, founder of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, died Saturday evening from pancreatic cancer. Her health began declining shortly after her 90th birthday celebration in 2017.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

What if the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 failed to detonate?

A writer and an artist ask that question at the Truman Library and Museum as part of Kansas City’s Open Spaces arts festival, which has a roomy-enough sphere of exhibitions for various thought experiments, both the viewers’ and the artists’. 

Vicki and Randy Regier

Randy Regier creates fiction with his art. Not in the sense that a painting of a scene that never took place is fiction, but in the way a teenage boy might get a kick out of placing an odd object in his house to make his mom pause.

When pressed about the mysterious item, that teenager might say, “But, Mom, the garden gnome has always been next to the coffee mugs. Don’t you remember?”

U.S. Navy, National Archives

Brian Turner was packed and ready to ship out for Iraq when his grandfather finally broke a decades’ long silence about his own combat experience. When the words came, they were to say that Turner should grab the biggest weapon and as much ammunition as he could carry.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

“You can choose to share your secrets or not share your secrets,” David Hanson tells his audiences.

For several years, Hanson has led those audiences through “immersive theater” experiences in Kansas City, and he will do so again at Open Spaces with a free performance of his play “Bird in the Hand.”

Immersive theater differs from traditional theater in that audience members are active, not passive, observers. Hanson gives the example many people are familiar with: murder mystery dinner theater, where it’s up to audience members to solve a mystery.

Teens in Transition

Ricky Greer, a senior at Central High School, watched the 1961 movie version of “West Side Story” for the first time this summer. While the movie was a lot like reality with the “gangbanging and people dying,” he says, he didn’t buy the entire story.

Though Lindsey Doolittle is an art teacher, she never imagined she’d have her own exhibition. Nor did she imagine writing a book that’s now on permanent display at the Van Gogh Museum Library in Amsterdam.

The public speaking tour has been a surprise, too.

But this is her new normal since her husband, Brett, killed himself in 2015.

Mo Dickens

Through late spring and into early summer, Kansas City artist Dylan Mortimer searched the trees in Swope Park for signs of death. He found a 40-footer that was dead for sure, but the park staff told him it was too close to the road and hazardous; they cut it down.

Courtney Bierman / KCUR 89.3

Vampires and transgender people are similar in a number of ways, says anthology editor Bogi Takács. Members of each group are often outcasts on the fringe of society, have atypical bodies, and attract the fascination of the mainstream.

Anne Kniggendorf

What does your grandfather’s house have in common with the Johnson County library? A workshop.

“I’m not saying this is your grandad’s basement — it’s kind of your grandad’s basement on steroids,” Johnson County Library Director Sean Casserley said during a recent event to rededicate the Black & Veatch MakerSpace. The Overland Park-based engineering firm renewed a $90,000, three-year grant to the library system in July.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

A somewhat mysterious, and certainly enduring, fact of the music industry is that male musicians far outnumber female musicians. A group of women wants to change that, in Kansas City at least.

Singer-songwriters Julie Bennett Hume, Leah Watts and four others have started a new organization called Women on the Rise.

Kansas City Public Library

Singer-songwriter Krista Eyler may be best known around Kansas City by her alias: Funky Mama. As Funky Mama, she’s released eight CDs and played at kids events around the metro since 2005.

Lately, she’s been up to something new.

“I love the Funky Mama connection to all things, but this is a far departure,” Eyler says of her new project. “People go, ‘Oh, Funky Mama writes orchestral music?’ Well, I do, and it’s very, very fun.”

Anne Kniggendorf

Dennis McCurdy had a stroke on October 22, 2000. At the time, he had no idea that the stroke would cause vascular dementia; that diagnosis came nearly a decade later.

Fidencio Fifield-Perez

As a second grader growing up in North Carolina, Fidencio Fifield-Perez was the school cartoonist. He won a few awards and certificates, and a local newspaper wrote an article about him. He’d newly immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

Years later, when he needed proof that he’d grown up in the United States in order to gain DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, his early art skills came in handy because those awards and the newspaper story provided documentation of his childhood.

Anne Kniggendorf

Rob Hill was pretty sure he had the makings of the fabled great American novel. But the retired Army lieutenant colonel isn’t much of a writer, so his idea for a story about who was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers didn’t pan out.

He did have a creative outlet, though, one that led Hill to think he could tell the post-World War I story through song. A member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Hill took his idea to Artistic Director Dustin Cates.

Marco Pavan

“Nobody gets out alive on planet Earth,” says Cannupa Hanska Luger.

He's stating the obvious, of course, but the New Mexico-based artist is also talking about the title of his show in Kansas City: “Life is Breathtaking.”

Jake Johnson

On day 20 of her stay in the cardiac intensive care unit at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kari Alejandre posted on her Facebook page, “I’m getting a new heart today. It will be my third.”

She had been receiving family and other well-wishers in her pajamas for nearly three weeks.

“Please tell people my mom picked out these jammies,” she said at one point, looking down at the pink flamingos on a field of black.

Nichelle Lankes/Children's Mercy

Tell any child that you need her consent to perform an endoscopic biopsy and want her on board with a “future use provision” and see what sort of look you get. Try to convey the same idea to a child and her parents in a West African nation with no written language and you’re out of luck.

Susan Abdel-Rahman has played out this scenario many times in her role as a doctor and researcher for Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Jessica Wohl

Artist Jessica Wohl searches for what everyone has in common — even if it’s a testy desire to be heard.

By looking at the seven quilts she’ll show in Weinberger Fine Art’s new exhibition, “Thoughts And Prayers,” it’s hard to say what Wohl’s political leanings are. But she contends that her particular opinions are not the point of this collection.

Wikimedia Commons

People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City doesn’t intend to inspire a revolution with their upcoming performance. They’re not even aiming for civil unrest.

No, the band’s leader, Brad Cox (piano and accordion) says they just wanted to compose a new score for a really beautiful old film, “Battleship Potemkin,” but in the band’s own style, what Cox describes as “modern freaky jazz.”

Katie Moore/The Topeka Capital-Journal

Annette Billings says poetry isn’t about precious kittens and pretty flowers. Rather, she says, the form often calls for much harder, more controversial subject matter.

“Sometimes I feel compelled to write about a murder,” she says, “or a woman who’s living in a domestic violence environment.”

Mid-America Arts Alliance

Shortly before Nolen Bivens retired from 32 years of military service, he noticed something about the soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas, where he’d been serving as a Brigadier General over the Fourth Infantry Division.

Jacqee Gafford / Facebook

The widows may have bonded so strongly because their husbands had been murdered within five years of each other. Or perhaps they were drawn together by the weight of tending to their husbands’ legacies.

Whatever speculation yields, only Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers and Betty Shabazz knew why they became and remained friends long after their children were grown.

H.C. Palmer

H.C. Palmer had graduated from medical school but hadn't yet finished his residency when the Army drafted him in the mid-1960s.

President Lyndon Johnson's administration took 1,500 men from medical training programs across the country and sent them to Vietnam as surgeons.

By August 1965, Palmer found himself in a war zone as part of the First Infantry Division. All these years later, he says he’ll never completely find his way out — nor will others who’ve been similarly exposed to the “many horrific things that happen in war,” he told me in a recent interview.

Channy Chhi Laux

Channy Chhi Laux is an American. She earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska and a master’s from the University of Santa Clara in California. Laux’s son is an Eagle Scout, and her daughter has nearly finished a doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Her list of American-sounding accomplishments is long, including working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for 30 years and starting a specialty foods company called Apsara.

Jon Demlar

Francis Sommer had planned a vacation to Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain to visit an Army buddy. The friendship arose from a particularly fraught 2006 deployment to Afghanistan, and the two looked forward to reconnecting in a peaceful, beautiful place.

But it was Robert Sommer, Francis’ father, who spent the day with the friend.

Francis was killed in 2011.

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