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, Publishers Weekly, 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.

Mike Mosher

Before his book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" — published in 1949 — predicted the society of surveillance and doublespeak we live in now, George Orwell tried to save the world, a University of Kansas professor has discovered.

Mick Cottin

No one knows what happened in Limetown, Tennessee, where all 327 citizens vanished in February 2004. The town and its people are a work of fiction, but it's still maddening not to know the cause of the disappearance, especially when initial reports don't mention much more than a massive bonfire in the town square. Well, initial "reports."

That mystery is one reason the "Limetown" podcast is so popular. Created by Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, "Limetown" shot to  No. 1 on iTunes shortly after it first aired in 2015.

Anne Kniggendorf

Over the last few weeks, as Kansas City artist Israel Garcia made his way through Texans' backyards to the barrier that divides the United States from Mexico, he imagined everyone in the neighborhood would be well-versed on immigration policy.

"My assumption was if this border fence is your backyard fence that you’d be completely informed. Like you knew the ins and outs, you knew the politics, you knew how it all works," the Mexico native says.

Bill Pryor

Turns out Truman Capote didn’t like Christmas much. The "In Cold Blood" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" author wasn’t alone.

"We have these lives we want to have," said Prospero's bookstore owner Will Leathem, "and quite often Christmas puts an exclamation point on the reminder that maybe there's a little disjunct between what we want ourselves to be and where we are."

Elizabeth Stehling

For years, ballet dancer Whitney Huell had an ornament of the Sugar Plum Fairy from "The Nutcracker" hanging on her Christmas tree. The miniature ballerina was African-American like Huell.

"This is a very iconic role and a role that many dancers dream of doing, myself included," Huell told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann. The role of Sugar Plum Fairy is so big, in fact, that Huell barely allowed herself to think snagging it was possible, though she’s been a professional dancer for a decade.

Public domain

Everything about Walt Disney is legendary, especially in his hometown of Kansas City where a mythology has grown up around the young ad man who created the world’s most-beloved character.

But, what does anyone really know about that mouse?

"How can the most popular fictional character in the world be someone that no one knows anything about?" author Jeff Ryan asked Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City Chiefs are ranked No. 1 in the AFC West and come in at No. 4 in the just-released NFL power rankings. Chiefs fans are feeling proud.

But there’s also bullying. Not just by former star running back Kareem Hunt, who was released by the team after video showed him kicking and pushing a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February, but also of an entire minority group.

Cory Weaver

Some of the basic lessons of “A Christmas Carol” have rubbed off on Nicole Marie Green and Logan Black, the actors who play Mrs. and Mr. Cratchit this year at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

They’re playing Charles Dickens’ 175-year-old characters for the first time, and are grateful.

John Chase

Robert Mnookin grew up in the 1950s as a member of B’nai Jehudah, one of the biggest and oldest Jewish temples in Kansas City. But asked to describe himself, the Harvard law professor doesn’t immediately say, “I’m Jewish.”

“We all have many strands to our identity: I’m a father, a grandfather, a husband, a law professor, I’m a Harvard graduate, and I’m from Kansas City. And, I’m Jewish,” Mnookin told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann.

Paul Andrews

Artist and pastor Dylan Mortimer had just moved with his family from Kansas City to Brooklyn, New York, for an adventure the last time he spoke to KCUR. Mortimer, who was born with cystic fibrosis, said he had never had so much freedom of movement.

“I feel the best I’ve felt in my life,” he said in an August conversation about his installation at the Open Spaces arts festival. He was happy to be travelling, riding bikes and climbing mountains with his sons.

Dante

Variety shows aren’t all gongs and spangles.

Besides simply being entertaining, such shows are ways for artists to help build their fan bases by “cross-pollinating audiences,” says Stephanie Roberts, a theater professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

She first saw this work when she lived in Seattle and was part of a company called Annex Theatre, which hosted a variety show called “Spin the Bottle.”

Allison Long / Courtesy of The Kansas City Star

Updated, 5:07 p.m. Nov. 21: This story as been updated to include comments from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official and Abdoulie Fatajo's attorney.

Abdoulie Fatajo, a Shawnee, Kansas, philanthropist and community leader from Gambia, was arrested and detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on November 9. He’s being held at the Morgan County Detention Center in Versailles, Missouri.

He’s had limited access to a phone and has relied on a friend to spread the word of his arrest, though his family is being careful about who hears.

Strawberry Swing

There’s no reason to just give a gift this holiday season when you can give the gift of Kansas City. These holiday craft and art sales will make shopping thoughtfully, and locally, simple.

Kelly Downs Photography

If there were something like a Chinatown for Cherokee people, says author Traci Sorell, it would be easier for non-Native American people to know more about these indigenous people.

“They are your neighbors, they’re the children in your classroom, they’re the people walking into your library, they’re your colleagues at work,” says Sorell, a registered member of the Cherokee Nation.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

For 62 days this fall, Kansas City was blanketed in the arts. The citywide Open Spaces festival included 200 artists, local and national, who shared paintings, sculptures, photography, music, theatrical performances, choreographed pieces and installations of all sizes.

The first event of its kind in Kansas City, Open Spaces was intended to be a biennial event, putting the city on a larger map, for visitors from all over to see, experience and buy art.

Bingham-Waggoner Historical Society

Every November and December, Kansas Citians join the nation in a scramble to decorate for the holidays. When those same old decorations start feeling, well, old, locals know to hit the holiday homes tour circuit for fresh ideas.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Bill James is uniquely poised to enjoy major league baseball — more so than possibly any other fan. 

“It’s true of anything, that the more you know about it, the more you understand it, the better position you’re in to enjoy it,” James told host Gina Kaufmann on Thursday on KCUR’s Central Standard.

And the Kansas native knows a lot about the game. In the late 1970s, he invented a field of baseball analysis he named sabermetrics after the acronym SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).

Americans with disabilities is a community anyone can join at any time. It’s a community that demands infrastructural and political changes that ultimately benefit everyone, yet it’s a community that is often ignored, sidelined or patronized.

“For years, there were ugly laws that were in place that kept cripples from being out in public. We were locked away in institutions, we were left at home, we were sight unseen. There was a stigma associated with it,” says artist Kathryne Husk.

Wikimedia Commons

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, the clocks on our digital devices will all move back one hour. Barring emergencies or interruptions from small children, everyone will get an extra hour of sleep.

And even though they’ve gotten more sleep, some people will still worry about the time change, particularly those who are already sleep-challenged. Some will even complain about the general disruption of Daylight Savings Time beginning (as it did last Spring) and ending (as it does this weekend).

Darren Hinesley

It’s Halloween, and you’ve just finished binge-watching The Haunting of Hill House. The last trick-or-treater knocked an hour ago. As you flip off the porchlight, you hear a sound in a dark room behind you.

Do you resolve to believe it was your cat and go about your business? Do you shove the noise out of your mind and slip on the flip-flops you still haven’t put away for the winter and hightail it to the grocery for a frozen pizza? Or, do you go investigate the source of the noise — after all, your cat has been dead since spring.

Robert Paisley

Plenty of people don’t think twice before binging on episodes of a favorite TV show or series of movies. Would that crowd consider watching live theater the same way?

“You know how when you binge-watch ‘Lord of the Rings?’” asks Karen Paisley, artistic director of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater. “This is sort of like binge-watch theater.”

Paisley has taken on a production of Horton Foote’s massive “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” only the second time it’s been produced anywhere. To watch the entire cycle, a theater-goer will commit to watching three three-hour performances.

Ted Riederer

Ted Riederer’s art makes him part of strangers’ intimate moments for three hours at a time. But he’s not so much a voyeur as a cultural witness.

He records people on vinyl, doing or saying whatever they’d like, for free. Over the years, he’s recorded amateur and professional musicians, people talking in person and over the phone, and even skateboarders riding around whatever space he's using.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

Robert Stewart remembers when word got out that poet Amiri Baraka would read in Kansas City.

Stewart, who ran the Midwest Poets Series at Rockhurst University for 35 years, looked out into the audience when Baraka was in town and saw an enormous showing from the African-American community.

“It was just incredibly touching to me,” Stewarts says of seeing multiple generations of several families represented.

“The same thing would happen when we had Yehuda Amichai, the Israeli poet, and there would be a number of people from the Jewish community,” Stewart says.

Joni Kabana

Cheryl Strayed knows the power of a story and that repetition ups the voltage.

Strayed is best known for her 2012 memoir “Wild” — made into a movie of the same name — about her solo hike up the West Coast of the United States, and her more recent advice column and podcast “Dear Sugar.”

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 fiery “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’. 

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