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Arts and culture

Sadeqa Johnson's new novel, Yellow Wife, is a harrowing tale of the life of an enslaved woman in Virginia, beginning in the 1850s. A challenging read but beautifully told, this thought-provoking page-turner is also surprisingly uplifting. And at its core, Yellow Wife is also a story of motherhood and the sacrifices a mother will make to protect her children — no matter how those babies come into the world.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

We've invited singer songwriter Phoebe Bridgers to play a game about feeble bridges: three questions about bridges that have fallen over, collapsed or otherwise done a bad job of spanning things.

Click the audio link above to find out how she does.

The way that ballet dancer Ashton Edwards leaps through the air is pure art. The fact that he does it in pointe shoes is a rare feat.

Ballet traditionally has very divided roles for men and women. Men need power to lift their female partners. Women are prized for their delicate precision and the ability to seemingly defy gravity.

But ideas about ballet are changing.

Katherine Seligman's new novel makes alive and visible the lives of people we often walk past, sometimes as quickly as we can. Maddy Donaldo is 20 years old and sleeps in hidden spots inside San Francisco's Golden Gate Park with her small dog Root, sometimes eating and showering in a shelter before returning to forage for food and loose change on the street.

Why Sea Shanties Have Taken Over TikTok

Jan 16, 2021

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Argh, the latest trend in pandemic distraction may be - shiver me timbers - sea shanties.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) There once was a ship that put to sea, and the name of that ship was the Billy of Tea.

Copyright 2021 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I am writing this on January 7, 2021, and I have no idea how to review a book that depicts a notorious historical event where white supremacists rioted and destroyed a Black community, when yesterday, almost exactly 100 years later, white supremacists rioted their way into the U.S. Capitol Building. But Angel of Greenwood deserves to fly into the world on the biggest wings she can spread, so I'm going to try.

Saturday Night Live and The Second City comedy enterprises have announced the recipients of a new training scholarship for diverse, emerging talent. From a pool of some 1,300 applicants, four up and coming comedians were selected: Alexi Bolden, Gabriella "Gabi" Castillo, Kaili Turner and Morgan Van Dyne. The scholarships will cover all of their performance and writing training at Second City and give them access to SNL talent executives.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Each day, we breathe about 22,000 times--and all that time we smell. Scent historian Caro Verbeek recreates scents of the past. She says, just like music and art, smell is a part of our heritage.

About Caro Verbeek

If you grew up scared of what illicit drugs could do to you — hearing about all the horrors that could befall you from everyone from Nancy Reagan to your parents — the threat may have felt very real: If you actually took a puff off that joint that the kid who slept through math class offered you, it could lead to failed relationships, chronic unemployment, self-destruction.

The shame would outlive you.

It's been a while since we saw the logo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — those fast-flipping comics pages, that stirring anthem of strings and brass and clashing cymbals — and I'm pleased to report that it retains its power to act as visual appetizer, whetting our collective palate for the mix of iconic, larger-than-life, vibrantly colored acts of selfless heroism, cosmic stakes and petty intra-hero squabbling that is the Marvel brand.

Summerwater, by Sarah Moss, takes place over a single day of unrelenting rain at a vacation site in the Scottish Trossachs. Families are huddled in damp holiday cottages, a "muddle of softening wooden walls" with "eyes at every window."

"I'm not even taking photos because who wants to remember this," complains a teenage girl. "I can't exactly post, can I, 'more rain on more trees, rain again, trees again, more rain, more trees, hashtag summer holiday, hashtag family fun.'"

This weekend, you can see actor Wendell Pierce star in a new production that is streaming for free online. "The thing I love about the play is: not often do you see Black men just love each other and work through the difficulties of that love," Pierce says.

A year ago the official Twitter account of the Federal Bureau of Investigation tweeted, "Today, the FBI honors the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." It was accompanied by a photo of the FBI Academy's reflecting pool, where a quote from King is etched in stone: "The time is always right to do what is right."

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Siegfried Fischbacher, one-half of the famous magician duo Siegfried & Roy, died Wednesday night at his home in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Fischbacher's death comes just months after his performance partner, Roy Horn, died from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 75.

A statement from Siegfried & Roy's press office said Fischbacher had a unique ability to "perform complicated magic at lightning speed." This made him a perfect foil for Horn, a "perpetual dreamer."

Growing up, I always saw playing video games as a natural extension of my interest in reading. To me, the fantastical worlds I explored in games mirrored those of my favorite children's books like Where the Wild Things Are and The Lorax. Many of the games I played and the stories I read shared a similar sense of whimsy and adventure, and piqued my interest with intriguing art styles.

Playboy.

Glamour.

O.

Teen Vogue.

All these magazines have something in common.

They're no longer in print.

While these — and many other — publications have shifted to digital only in recent years, there's a print magazine bucking the trends and still going strong: Thrasher magazine. Created by skateboarders for skateboarders, Thrasher celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.

The ground-breaking comic strip Doonesbury has been with us for a half-century. It was the first daily comic strip to win a Pulitzer Prize for tackling social issues, politics and war. It's also been censored for some of those same reasons.

The annual Kennedy Center Honorees have been announced: choreographer, and actress Debbie Allen; singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez; country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks; violinist Midori; and actor Dick Van Dyke.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

If you didn't know what they were about, you'd be forgiven for confusing the striking new movies Promising Young Woman and Pieces of a Woman. They do have similarities that go beyond their titles: Each is an intense but uneven film about the lingering effects of trauma and tragedy. And each one centers on an American woman played by an English actor doing her strongest work in some time.

This is Emma Amos' moment. Her themes — gender and race — press on our minds now. For six decades Amos explored them in prints, paintings and fabrics. She died May 20, just months before a retrospective of her work, "Emma Amos: Color Odyssey," is to open at the Georgia Museum of Art, in Athens. Complications from Alzheimer's took her at age 83, but she knew the show was in the works.

That picture above is a self-portrait. Here's her photograph.

Nadia Owusu has lived many lives.

She's been the privileged child of a UN agency employee, ferried to school and back by chauffeurs while civil wars brewed outside walled compounds guarded by young men, where women called house girls cleaned and cooked for expats.

She's been a world traveler, experiencing life in Tanzania, England, Italy, Ethiopia, Uganda, and finally the United States, all before she turned 20.

She's witnessed and experienced the aftershocks of colonialism in several nations.

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