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.

'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."

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.

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.

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