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.

Shelley Staib

Shelley Staib held the "best job ever" for 30 years. In 1975, the Shawnee writer was one of the first women to become a lineman for Bell Systems. The position gave her a great deal of independence, allowed her to work outside, and every day was different.

Ashley Coats / Glore Psychiatric Museum

Skulls and bones have a lot to say.

Among the most basic pieces of information they hold are the gender, age and sometimes cause of death of their former user.

"It's all recorded on the bones. All we have to do is teach people how to interpret those markers left on bone," says Ashley Burns-Meerschaert, who is headed to the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri to teach forensics classes.

Kansas City Public Library

Matt Staub considers himself to be a forward-thinking guy.

And lately, he's been wondering whether, if he'd been a city leader in the 1950s, would he have wanted to build the downtown loop — those four highway arteries that form a boundary around Kansas City, Missouri's central business district.

Paul Darling

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Darling made his wife beef wellington for Mother’s Day. Like anyone does in a relationship, he says that she thinks of him a certain way.

"My wife has a vision of me as father and husband. I don’t think she really liked seeing what I was in combat," Darling says of his wife's response to the book he wrote about his time in Afghanistan.

Corey Fisher

Neymara Freeman, a sophomore at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas, won top speaker at the Urban Debate National Championships in Washington, D.C., last month.

The theme of this year's competition was immigration. Students researched every aspect of the issue and had to be poised and ready to represent each angle.

Anna Selle

Allison Gliesman studied singing in high school and a little in college and knew the technical ins and outs. It took some distance from those lessons and a little experimenting for Gliesman's voice to take shape.

Huascar Medina

Sometimes Kansas' new poet laureate feels isolated and in transition. Huascar Medina's mother is Panamanian and his father is Puerto Rican, but Medina was born at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Texas, and is an American.

"I'm no longer from Puerto Rico or Panama, but sometimes I don't feel I'm American enough either, you know? My Spanish isn't the best, and sometimes I struggle with my English, so I live in the in between," says Medina, who has lived in Topeka for almost two decades.

Eric Borden

A construction worker from Drexel, Missouri, is using poetry to positively affect the perception of blue-collar trades.

Eric Borden's poem "Ditch Diggers" is up front about the negative perception he’s battling:

You say the world needs ditch diggers,
that statement's true enough.
But if you're saying it because you think you're better than us,
then with you've I've got a grudge.

Logan Black

In an environment where a person can be considered an "individual augmentee" and a dog a piece of equipment — that is, a combat situation — the relationship between the two may be the only humanizing factor.

Kansas City actor and playwright Logan Black’s one-man play "Bond" explores the trauma of serving in an Iraqi combat zone alongside his best friend, a Labrador named Diego.

Joan Marcus / HAMILTON National Tour

As of today, Kansas Citians who’ve been eager to see the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical, "Hamilton," can register for chance to buy tickets.

Since the show's opening in 2015, tickets have been hard to come by in any city where it plays, and the ever-growing fanbase is willing to pay just about anything for a seat.

Bigstock

The pain might start after bumping an elbow on a kitchen counter. Or maybe the incident was more minor than that, and went completely unnoticed. But for some people, what begins as "nothing" converts to searing pain over part or all of the body.

"If you sprain your ankle, the nerves should turn off after a while once that's healed, that pain signaling should die down. But if you have a chronic pain syndrome, the nerves don't get the memo to turn off," says Cara Hoffart, a rheumatologist at Children's Mercy Hospital.

Meg Kumin

When Kansas-born actress and dancer Louise Brooks wanted to travel to New York City in 1922 at the age of 15, she could not go alone. She needed a chaperone.

Brooks' five-week trip is the basis of Lawrence novelist Laura Moriarty's 2012 book "The Chaperone," which has now been made into a movie of the same name. Moriarty was at the New York City premiere on March 25 and says it was exhilarating.

Ross family

Kansas City filmmaker Brian Rose spent six years working on his new movie, even after he realized there would be no answers to the problem he was trying to solve.

His feature-length documentary, "When I Last Saw Jesse," details the events surrounding the 2006 disappearance of Belton teenager Jesse Ross and what's happened in the years since. It's among the 174 entries in this week's Kansas City FilmFest International.

MH Cameron Barrett

Children's book author Jenn Bailey wonders whether her middle son would have had an easier childhood if his classmates had a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder.

"He was frequently labeled by his peers as, well, 'He's the weird kid,' 'He's the shy kid,'" she remembers.

Vashti Kern

David Bird never gets bored with his plants. Orchids, he notes, are the largest family of blooming plants on Earth, with almost 30,000 species. He's been hooked ever since a family trip to Hawaii in 1978, when he bought five Dendrobium orchids.

In 2001, he began growing orchids in a cave on East 23rd Street near I-435 at the Interstate Underground Warehouse. Bird's Botanicals had 10,000 plants in five rooms.

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.

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