Monthly Archives: April 2016

Words Matter on KBIA

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KBIA’s Sara Shahriari interviewed several contributors to the newly released Words Matter: Writing to Make a Difference, which is an anthology of journalism, mostly from graduates of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She interviewed one of the editors, Mary Kay Blakely, and student Ginger Hervey, who has been working on the collection since her freshman year. She also interviewed Shane Epping and Lois Raimondo who contributed to the anthology. Below is a selected transcription from Shahriari’s interview with Lois Raimondo.

The full radio program can be listened to here:

So Lois, I wanted to start out just by asking you about this amazing friendship that you describe in your essay. You’re a photojournalist, you’re working in Afghanistan and you start working with essentially a fixer- a person who helps orient you and who interprets for you, named Massoud. How did you first meet him and how did your friendship begin?

Right, so when you first land in Afghanistan, or when at that point in time, I choppered in from the north of the country from Tajikistan because that was the only way to get into Afghanistan. The Taliban controlled all of the borders and you land literally in the middle of a deserted, rough mountain patch and a series of people on horseback and donkeys come out to meet you. And people were then ferried to a base camp where journalists were gathering which was really the Northern Alliance headquarters. Nothing was happening yet in terms of movement on the field, the battlefield. So the Americans had not yet started dropping bombs and so people were just in a waiting position. There was very little work in Afghanistan for people who, you know everyone was fighting the Taliban, so there were a number of people who had college educations who spoke some English who were finding their way to this base camp to try and look for temporary work so they would be paid by the day. So I actually went through a series of translators before I worked with Massoud. Another journalist, Margaret Ward from Irish TV and Radio had been working with him first. The first person I worked with was an Afghan doctor whose English was very good, but he was also extremely elitist, and if we went to interview a farmer or a woman he would say ‘We’re not going to talk to these people because they don’t have anything to say.’ So it was impossible of course to use him as a translator. Massoud, who had graduated from Kabul University with a degree in English, but had been, as he let me know, forced into being a soldier because there were no other options, always wanted to study literature and he loved learning languages and so he was planning just to take a couple of weeks and make a little money. But more than that, he really just wanted to keep learning and so Margaret and I became friends and we started working together in the field and we shared Massed and we could split the cost of the translator. Then when her money ran out and she left, I worked for the next two and a half months with Massoud on my own.

It’s interesting that you say that experience almost, in these situations, can be not an advantage because you start to become, I suppose, comfortable in these really extremely dangerous situations, in a way.

Right. There are risks and then there are calculated risks. I know that for myself by the time I left Afghanistan. I mean we were in Talikan and a journalist had been killed in the middle of the night and so everybody evacuated, and my editors were telling me, ‘Alright they sent a chopper in to evacuate.’ There was one person from CBS News, the Washington Post correspondent was there at that point and everybody evacuated, but I wouldn’t leave. You know, at that point, I was so into the story that, and when I say into the story what I mean by that is that, you know, you meet all of these people along the way who have been through such horrendous things. You know they’ve seen their families have been killed, or they’ve lost everything that they had materially, they’ve just had decades of injustice and they still are incredibly compassionate and kind and I think for me just absorbing sort of that reality, their reality, and seeing how brave they still were, for me, it was no sense of ‘I’m the journalist and I’m here to tell a story,’ but rather it was that I felt like it was the least I could do. My piece of this was to tell that story for them, right? Because if it were me, I don’t imagine that if I had gone through what they do, I would have been as good a person. So I just felt that why would I leave now when they were in their most dire straits? It’s sort of like I was witness to this extraordinary humanity and I felt like I had to stay. It wasn’t a choice. So in that situation, you know, is that a case of somebody who’s too experienced and got too comfortable? I think it’s a little bit different in that I was certainly aware that we all were in imminent danger, but I felt like for me at that point in time, I was willing to risk everything to tell their story.

Do you stay in touch with Massoud now?

I do. It’s funny, because I actually, I was in the hospital for, and it was all stress related, but I was in the hospital for a heart catheterization not too long ago and as I was waiting to go into the procedure and he called me from Afghanistan. So he always seems to, somehow he does it, but we do stay in touch. I mean it used to be more frequent but now at important moments, even if we just give a message to each other. But he now is a three star general and he’s very high ranking in the Afghan government. And when I met him he thought all Americans were evil and he thought I was a prostitute because I was a woman traveling on my own and I was an American, and he did not think that there was anything about me that was worthy, probably. But he was always a man of peace and also a man of intense intellectual curiosity and compassion. So those things won out over all of the lessons he had learned in Medrassas in Pakistan and all of the retoric, and you know his compassion just blew a hole through all of that. So even when I was there, he risked his life many times to try and go in and negotiate with the Taliban so the women and children would be spared. Or when the Taliban went through the hospital in Talikan and tore it all up and they left and they took all of the blood and the wounded Taliban were brought back to that hospital the next day he went in to give them his blood. So throughout all of it he demonstrated that he was just a very kind person. So he’s doing the same thing now today as a three star general. He’s still trying to negotiate for peace, trying to solve conflict. It’s a civil war, to some extent, although now of course there are outside forces coming into Afghanistan and it’s much more splintered. But, you know, I think whether he’s a three star general or translating for some rogue American reporter in the desert somewhere, he’s the same exact person.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Related Program:



Spring brings National Poetry Month

Spring dawn is glinting
On a dew-wet garbage can
In a city street.
—Haiku 177 by Richard Wright

In honor of great poetry and in celebration of spring, we are having a sale of 45% off select titles from our collection of poetry and poetry criticism—from transcendentalists to modernists to contemporary writers.

To receive 45% off, use code NPM16 at our website. This offer is good through May 2nd.

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Communities of Death
Whitman, Poe, and the American Culture of Mourning
Adam C. Bradford
$33.00 (regularly $60.00)

By unveiling a heretofore marginalized literary relationship between Poe and Whitman, Adam C. Bradford rewrites our understanding of these authors and suggests a more intimate relationship among sentimentalism, romanticism, and transcendentalism than has previously been recognized. Bradford’s insights into the culture and lives of Poe and Whitman will change readers’ understanding of both literary icons.

How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter
Jonathan N. Barron
$33.00 (regularly $60.00)

Robert Frost stood at the intersection of romanticism and Catalogue pagemodernism and made both his own. He used the values and techniques of nineteenth-century poetry, but Jonathan N. Barron argues that it was his commitment to realism that gave him popular as well as scholarly appeal and created his enduring legacy. How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter investigates early innovative poetry and reveals a voice of dissent that anticipated “The New Poetry”—a voice that would come to dominate American poetry as few others have.


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Roads Not Taken
Rereading Robert Frost
Edited & Intro by Earl J. Wilcox & Jonathan N. Barron
$27.50 (regularly $50.00)

Earl J. Wilcox and Jonathan N. Barron bring a new freshness and depth to the study of one of America’s greatest poets. While some critics discounted Frost as a poet without technical skill, rhetorical complexity, or intellectual depth, over the past decade scholars have begun to view Robert Frost’s work from many new perspectives. Critical hermeneutics, culture studies, feminism, postmodernism, and textual editing all have had their impact on readings of the poet’s life and work. This collection of essays is the first to account for the variety of these new perceptions.

The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson; Edited by Ralph H. Orth, Albert J. von Frank, Linda Allardt, & David W. Hill
$44.00 (regularly $80.00)

Published here in full are Ralph Waldo Emerson’s nine poetry notebooks, the single Orth - Emersongreatest source of information about his creative habits in poetry. Emerson kept rough drafts, revised versions, and fair copies of hundreds of poems in these notebooks, so that the genesis and development of poems both famous and obscure can be traced closely. The notebooks have been remarkably little consulted, primarily because their unedited textual condition makes them difficult to use. This edition makes them accessible by presenting a faithful transcription of each notebook, a detailed analysis of the history of each poem, an introduction, and a cross-referenced index.


T. S. Eliot and American Poetry
Lee Oser
$24.75 (regularly $45.00)
Juxtaposing Eliot’s poems, lectures, and essays (including generous excerpts from Eliot’s uncollected prose) with landmark texts by Emerson, Poe, Whitman, and many others, Lee Oser examines what America means to its poets, engaging in an analysis of Eliot’s Americanness in particular. By investigating Eliot’s literary inheritance through his familial traditions and in terms of the American Renaissance, this book addresses all phases of Eliot’s career as a poet.


Singing the Chaos
Madness and Wisdom in Modern Poetry
William PrattPRATT
$30.25 (regularly $55.00)

William Pratt brings alive the energy, freshness, and  originality of technique that made Baudelaire, Pound, Yeats, Rilke, Eliot, and others the initiators of the revolution in poetry. He brings a comprehensive and  revealing perspective to other major themes: modernism as an age of irony; poets as both madmen and geniuses; the modern poet as tragic hero; the dominance of religious or visionary truths over social or political issues; and the combination of radical experiments in poetic form with an apocalyptic view of Western civilization. His detailed treatment of the Fugitive poets and his recognition of their prominent role in twentieth-century literature constitute an important historical revision.

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Contemporary Irish Poetry and the Pastoral Tradition
Donna L. Potts
$27.50 (regularly $50.00)

Donna L. Potts closely examines the pastoral genre in the work of six Irish poets writing today. Through the exploration of the poets and their works, she reveals the wide range of purposes that the pastoral has served in both Northern Ireland and the Republic: a postcolonial critique of British imperialism; a response to modernity, industrialization, and globalization; a way of uncovering political and social repercussions of gendered representations of Ireland; and, more recently, a means for conveying environmentalism’s more complex understanding of the value of nature.

Richard Wright and Haiku
Yoshinobu Hakutani
$27.50 (regularly $50.00)

In the last years of his life, Richard Wright, the fierce and hakutani F13original American novelist known for Native Son and Black Boy, wrote over four thousand haiku. Yoshinobu Hakutani considers Wright the poet and his late devotion to the spare, unrhymed verse that dwells on human beings’ relationship to the natural world rather than on their relationships with one another, a strong departure from the intense and often conflicted relationships that had dominated his fiction.


Adjusting to the Light
Poems by Miller Williams
$13.20 (regularly $24.00)

Winner of the prestigious Poets’ Prize for 1990, Miller Williams is one of America’s most accomplished and productive contemporary poets. In this collection, we find the same wit, intelligence, wisdom, and humanity that readers of poetry have come to expect of Williams. These poems are about the daily lives and language of ordinary people.

Opening day: “In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility.”

“No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment. No hangover, at least until the game′s over.”—Mary Schmich

The heart of professional baseball, if not its roots, can be found in the Midwest, especially in Missouri, where the state has had a number of different major league teams, including  the Terriers of the Federal League, the Maroons of the National League, the  St. Louis Cardinals (originally the St. Louis Brown Stockings) and  the St. Louis Browns, the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Athletics, and, finally, the Kansas City Royals, who, of course, won the World Series this past year. See how the great American pastime has played out in Missouri with this selection of books from our baseball collection:
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An excellent overview of the teams, pennant races, trials, and triumphs of the different major-league teams that have resided in Missouri over the years. Major-league baseball has a long and significant history in the state of Missouri, and Launius has done a superb job of telling its story.
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Richard Peterson 
Hardcover $34.95
The St. Louis Cardinals are the most successful franchise in National League history, while the St. Louis Browns were one of the most colorful American League teams. Now Richard Peterson has collected the writings of some of baseball’s greatest storytellers to pay tribute to both these teams. His book, the first anthology devoted exclusively to the Cardinals and Browns, covers the rich history of St. Louis baseball from its late-nineteenth-century origins to the modern era.
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Mark McGwire, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock. These famous Cardinals are known by baseball fans around the world. But who and what were the predecessors of these modern-day players and their team? Jon David Cash examines the infancy of major-league baseball in St. Louis during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. His in-depth analysis begins with an exploration of the factors that motivated civic leaders to form the city’s first major-league ball club.
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Hardcover $34.95
1942: Americans suddenly found themselves at war but were not about to be distracted from the National Pastime. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees were looking to continue their World Series rivalry from the 1941 season, and a youthful team from St. Louis was determined to stop them.
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Paperback $10.95

Heralded by local and national media as perhaps baseball’s most devoted followers, the lovers of St. Louis’s legendary Redbirds have a special bond with their team. This book celebrates this relationship by focusing on the people in the stands. A collection of essays gathered from around the world, from St. Louis to Hong Kong, Cardinal Memories forms a history of the team the way it is best remembered—through the eyes and hearts of its fans.

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Stuart L. Weiss
Hardcover $34.95
Curt Flood, former star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, is a hero to many for selflessly sacrificing his career to challenge the legality of baseball’s reserve system. Although he lost his case before the Supreme Court, he has become for many a martyr in the eventually successful battle for free agency. Sportswriters and fans alike have helped to paint a picture of Flood as a larger-than-life figure, a portrait that, unhappily, may not be able to stand closer inspection. This book reveals the real Curt Flood—more man than myth.
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Hardcover $39.95
Paperback $24.95
In the most comprehensive assessment of baseball legend Stan Musial’s life and career to date, James N. Giglio places the St. Louis Cardinal star within the context of the times—the Great Depression and wartime and postwar America—and the issues then prevalent in professional baseball, particularly race and the changing economics of the game. Giglio illuminates how the times shaped Musial and delves further into his popular image as a warm, unfailingly gracious role model known for good sportsmanship and devotion to family.
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Paperback $19.95
During star-pitcher Bob Gibson’s most brilliant season, the turbulent summer of 1968, he started thirty-four games and pitched every inning in twenty-eight of them, shutting out the opponents in almost half of those complete games. After their record-breaking season, Gibson and his teammates were stunned to lose the 1968 World Series to the Detroit Tigers. For the next six years, as Gibson struggled to maintain his pitching excellence at the end of his career, changes in American culture ultimately changed the St. Louis Cardinals and the business and pastime of baseball itself.