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.

Darla Hodgson

Special Olympic gold athlete Lynna Hodgson was two years old when the Hodgson family from outside of Oak Grove, Missouri, adopted her. The baby had been abused and suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury. She was able to speak parts of only two words: one syllable of her name and one syllable of "water."

Her path to adulthood was often lonely; her severe speech delay and subsequent shyness kept her from socializing.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For 15 years, travelers in each of the three terminals at the Kansas City International Airport have walked on the sparkly deep blue art installation "Polarities" by New York artists Andrew Ginzel and Kristin Jones. Parking garage customers have stared up at stair-tower installations by various artists.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Some of the pieces in Clarissa Knighten's jewelry lines are over the top, and she knows it. But over-the-top is good for a couple of things: the runway, which she’ll hit during Kansas City Fashion Week, and temporarily taking on a new persona.

"Sometimes — I know from battling depression and bulimia — you have to step out of who you normally are, change things up," Knighten says.

Duane Cunningham / Inkwell KC

Before you hire someone for a position, you need at least two things: a job description and what qualifies someone to perform that job. Those two pieces of information should also be at the forefront of a voter's mind while reviewing a slate of candidates.

Eleven candidates are running for mayor of Kansas City, but what is that actual job?

Raytown Rocks

Karen Houck referred to her grief as a "bag of rocks" for years before she ever painted one or lived in a Lee's Summit house landscaped with a hundred tons of them.

Todd Zimmer

Kansas City musician Nathan Corsi is in Austin, Texas, for the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival. He's not performing as one of the 2,000 official acts booked at the annual event that began in 1987 — he's part of what's called the MidCoast Takeover.

Logan Action

When Hugh Merrill was growing up in the 1950s and '60s, he says a lot of things were simply true. Grandparents and parents were heroes, as was the United States. As he aged, those particular true things stopped being true.

"There was a very well-established truth about who we were, how we got here, what we did, how we saved the world in WWII, and all was good," he says.

Jason Dailey

Danny Caine is in an awkward position. On the one hand, as owner of The Raven Bookstore, he really loves all the independent shops that define downtown Lawrence. On the other hand, those big box stores and chains that threaten local businesses like his feel an awful lot like home.

So, he wrote some poems to try to sort it all out. That became "Continental Breakfast," his first collection.

Gary Lezak

Meteorologist Gary Lezak won’t quite say that the groundhog is full of it. But more than a month ago, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, meaning that we’d have an early spring.

"The groundhog made a big mistake this year. He thought winter was over," Lezak says.

Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout, who writes for the "Wall Street Journal," sees at least 100 plays a year—about half of them are in New York City, and the other half are all over the United States.

He's the only drama critic working for a national publication who regularly travels for work. Over the past couple of decades, this has afforded him a unique bird's eye view of the American arts scene: He sees that exceptional art is created even where only locals normally find it.

RareKC

When Kelly Ranallo's first child was born 21 years ago, something seemed wrong, but no one could put a finger on it. When Ranallo’s second child was born, the Overland Park mother's feeling was even stronger.

"(Our pediatrician) gave that look that no mom wants to see, which is 'I'll be right back. I'm going to go and make a couple phone calls, then I'll be back, and we’ll talk about this,'" Ranallo says.

If you can smell what the Rock is cooking, you might be interested in the wine "Niles Plonk" is fermenting.

Kraig Keesaman, who owns Windy Wine Company in Osborn, Missouri, wrestles with the newly formed Journey Pro KC as a nasty wine snob named Niles Plonk (Plonké when he puts on airs).

Daniel Hogans

Kansas City pianist Eddie Moore describes his music like this: "rolling down a hill on a bike with no brakes. You just have to weave through everything that gets in your way or jump over it."

Originally from Houston, he thought he might need to move to a coastal city to make a life in music work. But that changed after he auditioned at the University of Missouri Conservatory of Music and Dance for a graduate degree in music. 

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

In contrast to today's two ongoing wars that seem to touch only a few Americans, World War I touched everyone, killing an estimated 16 million people, both soldiers and civilians.

"It was probably the most important event in most of those peoples' lives," says Doran Cart, senior curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. "There was a real concern for some kind of concrete reminder that 'I was here,' or 'This is what our life was like during that time.'"

Melissa Martin

Michael Wheeler, known to strangers all over town as KC Superman, hasn't always run in a cape.

The 67-year-old has run regularly for more than 40 years. Initially he ran from bullies and depression. It wasn't until 2011 that he added the bright blue T-shirt and a shiny cape.

'Strangers in Town'

A place expecting an influx of refugees has a choice to make: throw up barricades or throw open its arms. A new documentary called "Strangers in Town" shows what happened when Garden City, Kansas, chose the latter.

Zach Baumann

If you want to get drunk and try to pick up a stranger, don't plan on doing that at Ça Va in Westport. Co-owner Caitlin Corcoran won’t tolerate behavior that makes a customer or employee uncomfortable.

"I can create whatever kind of culture I want, and I don't want to be that boss that is unsupportive," Corcoran told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann. "I don’t want my employees to feel like they're just a cog in the machine, and I’m taking advantage of them."

She knows how that feels.

Benjamin Todd Wills

Benjamin Todd Wills seems to understand that community is all-inculsive. That is, a community is not just made up of law-abiding families and hard-working citizens, it's also composed of those who've made grave errors and are paying the price.

For years, Wills, an art professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, has corresponded with inmates. After he mentioned to one man that he's a sculptor, the man sent a paper airplane with a note that read: “As far as a sculpture goes, this is the best that I can do.”

Sporting Kansas City

Kerry Zavagnin is the assistant coach of Sporting Kansas City, but sometimes he dreams of another life.

"Deep down inside, I'm an opera singer without a voice, that would love to be on stage at one point," he says. "If I had any talent to sing, it would be the passion that I have the most for."

Michelle Boisseau

The internationally acclaimed Kansas City poet Michelle Boisseau died of cancer in November 2017. Though people will be able to read her work in books for the imaginable future, two other professional artists have now memorialized her poetry in an entirely different art form.

J. Robert Schraeder

Say a woman wants to serve in the United States Army. No problem, right? Women are eligible. But, dial it back 160 years to the Civil War, and consider that women couldn’t just pop into a recruiting station and sign up.

"We know that about 250 (women) were documented as fighting in the U.S. Army, but those are only the ones who were discovered. Historians think it's over 2,000 women," says Boston playwright Wendy Lement.

Leavenworth's mayor, Jermaine Wilson, is uniquely positioned to, as he puts it, bring voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. The new mayor was once a convicted felon.

His swearing-in on January 8, he said, felt as if he was living in a dream.

"And I know God gave me another chance. And to see that the people gave me another chance … I was just overwhelmed with unexplainable joy," Wilson told KCUR's Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

Sinjun Strom

Lenexa native Christopher Good is headed to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. In the past he’s gone just for the experience, but this year he is going as a professional, one whose film is included in the U.S. Narrative Short Films category.

Good was in France when the festival's lineup was finalized in December, so he missed the phone call and received the news via email.

Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library

In the early 1900s, Kansas City was the only place in the country with a newly constructed hospital that exclusively served and was staffed by African Americans.

The facility was established in 1908, in a decrepit structure once used as a public hospital for whites and African Americans. The new building wasn't completed until 1930.

Argonne National Laboratory

Kansas State University is now officially home to one of the best groups of cyber-defense trainees in the nation.

In December, the university's Cyber Defense Club won second place nationally and first place regionally in a competition hosted by the United States Department of Energy. The K-State students competed against 70 teams from 24 states at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, one of seven sites to host the contest.

Anne Kniggendorf

Artist Hasna Sal, a Muslim, did something radical for someone of her faith: She created a 600-pound nativity scene. A nativity triptych, to be more precise, meaning the work consists of three panels — in this case, one two by nine-foot panel for each Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

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."

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