98 episodes

Conversations on news and culture with Kerri Miller. Weekdays from MPR News.

MPR News with Kerri Miller Minnesota Public Radio

    • Arts
    • 4.4 • 173 Ratings

Conversations on news and culture with Kerri Miller. Weekdays from MPR News.

    Boyah J. Farah on how America made him a Black man

    Boyah J. Farah on how America made him a Black man

    Boyah J. Farah spent his earliest years in Somalia, surrounded by family and feeling free. War shattered that idyllic state, and forced his mother to walk her children to safety at a refugee camp in Kenya and eventually, to a new life in a suburb outside of Boston.

    It was traumatic, but Farah was grateful for the respite. Since a young boy, he had been infatuated with America, and now he was here, where the grass seemed to be miraculously short without the intervention of goats, and the houses were equipped with both cold and hot water. His family assimilated. He didn’t think much about his skin color. As an immigrant and English-language learner, he already knew he was different.

    He experienced freedom again once he started to drive. But that transition also revealed America’s racist underbelly. In his new, poetic memoir, "America Made Me a Black Man,” Farah recounts his frustration at learning that in America, Black people are never really free.

    On this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas, Farah joined MPR News host Kerri Miller to share stories about his nomadic journey, why he continues to both adore and be vexed by America, and how his mother’s belief in the power of words shaped his life.

    Guest:


    Boyah J. Farah is a writer. His new memoir and first book is “America Made Me a Black Man.”




    To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

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    • 51 min
    From the archives: Emily Bernard and the complexity of being a black woman in America

    From the archives: Emily Bernard and the complexity of being a black woman in America

    As a child, Emily Bernard worried she was not black enough. As an adult, she wonders whether she's too black for America today.

    Her new book is built on that kind of nuance. "Black is the Body" is a collection of first-person essays that explore vast themes like race, identity and trauma — through the personal details of her own life. She was born in the South, lives now in the Northeast, and is married to a white man.

    "Blackness is an art, not a science," writes Bernard. "It is a paradox: intangible and visceral; a situation and a story." She believes that approaching these volatile topics through stories, not lectures, will create a safe place that nurtures vulnerability — and vulnerability is needed for true understanding.

    MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Bernard in 2019 about the complexity of being black in America today. It’s a fitting prelude to this week’s upcoming Big Books and Bold Ideas conversation with Boyah J. Farah about his journey from a refugee camp in Somalia to the United States, which he details in “America Made Me a Black Man.”

    Guest:


    Emily Bernard is professor of English at the University of Vermont and the author of several books, including “Black is the Body.”




    To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    Subscribe to the Thread newsletter for the latest book and author news and must-read recommendations.

    • 30 min
    How art and poetry inspired Maggie O'Farrell's new novel

    How art and poetry inspired Maggie O'Farrell's new novel

    Lucrezia de’ Medici was only 13 when she was forced to marry Alfonso II d’Estej, the Duke of Ferrara; just 15 when she joined the court of her new husband. By age 16, she was dead. Only her officials portraits survive her.

    Many years later, Robert Browning wrote a poem based on one of those paintings, which loosely fictionalizes the short marriage of Lucrezia and the possibility that she was murdered by her husband. Maggie O’Farrell goes one step further, and imagines the young girl’s whole life, including the short time she spent as a wife in 16th century Italy.

    In O’Farrell’s new novel, “The Marriage Portrait,” Lucrezia knows her sole job is to produce an heir for the duke. But when no heir is forthcoming, and the duke grows increasingly unsatisfied, she worries that he might kill her to make way for someone more fertile. Could she be right? Or is her bored and quick mind simply connecting dots that aren’t there?

    “The Marriage Portrait” deftly tells Lucrezia’s story through her own lens and perspective. This week, on Big Books and Bold Ideas, MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with O’Farrell about what inspired her to write the novel, why even her villains are complex, and how she intends to give women silenced by history their voice back.

    Guest:


    Maggie O’Farrell is the author of many novels, including the much-lauded “Hamnet” and the freshly released “The Marriage Portrait.” She lives in Edinburgh.




    To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    Subscribe to the Thread newsletter for the latest book and author news and must-read recommendations.

    • 51 min
    From the archives: Lauren Groff discusses 'Matrix' at Talking Volumes

    From the archives: Lauren Groff discusses 'Matrix' at Talking Volumes

    Maggie O’Farrell’s last novel, “Hamnet,” the fictional story of William Shakespeare’s son who died at age 11, was an international best-seller.

    Her new novel, “The Marriage Portrait” also delves into history. O’Farrell was struck by Robert Browning’s poem, “My Last Duchess,” which itself was inspired by a painting of a young Italian woman who died in 1561, at the age of 16, just a year after she was married to the Duke of Ferrara. But did she die? Or was she poisoned?

    “The Marriage Portrait” reminded us of Lauren Groff’s 2021 hit, “Matrix,” set in medieval France. So for this week’s deep track, we thought we’d bring you the Talking Volumes interview MPR News host Kerri Miller did with Groff on the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater last year, where Groff describes the history, the art and the music that inspired her writing.

    Guest:


    Lauren Groff is the author of six books. “Matrix” is her most recent, released in 2021.




    To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    Subscribe to the Thread newsletter for the latest book and author news and must-read recommendations.

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Minnesota author Peter Geye on his new book 'The Ski Jumpers'

    Minnesota author Peter Geye on his new book 'The Ski Jumpers'

    John Bargaard — the central character of Peter Geye’s new novel — possesses powerful muscle memory from his days as a ski jumper. He remembers the intensity of focus, the feeling of flying through the air, the shattered glass moment of landing.

    But he’s just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, and he faces the real prospect that his memories — and the secrets he harbors — will dim with his future.

    That’s the launching point of “The Ski Jumpers,” Geye’s latest book. Like many of his earlier works, this one is set in Minnesota, with winter as a backdrop to many pivotal scenes. But unlike books like “Wintering” and “Northernmost,” this one is personal.

    MPR News host Kerri Miller talks with Geye about what makes “The Ski Jumpers” so intimate to him on a special Big Books and Bold Ideas. Hear why this book took decades for Geye to write, how his own history of ski jumping inspired him and why the central questions of this book are the gateway to Geye’s truest religion.

    Guest:


    Peter Geye writes and lives in Minneapolis and is the author of many books. His latest novel is “The Ski Jumpers.”




    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    Subscribe to the Thread newsletter for the latest book and author news and must-read recommendations.

    • 51 min
    The U.S. urban-rural divide is mostly a myth. Here's what's real.

    The U.S. urban-rural divide is mostly a myth. Here's what's real.

    America is a land divided between those who dwell in cities — diverse, educated and growing economically — and those who live in the country — white, uneducated and dependent on dying industries.

    Or so the narrative goes.

    But research shows the so-called urban-rural divide is mostly a myth that is hurting the country as a whole.

    Monday, on a special Minnesota Now, MPR News host Kerri Miller and two guests — both of whom have deep roots in rural America — debunked some myths and shed some light on the realities of rural America.

    Guests:


    Lisa Pruitt is professor of law at UC Davis School of Law where she specializes in rural issues. She will be at the Westminster Town Hall Forum on October 25 to host a session called “Mending the Rural-Urban Rift.”

    Loka Ashwood is a sociologist and an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, where she focuses on rural communities and their participation in democracy.




    For more on Kerri Miller’s series of town halls throughout Minnesota focusing on the rewards and challenges of making a home in rural America, check out Rural Voice.

    Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
173 Ratings

173 Ratings

Thunderforge ,

Informative and a joy to listen to

The topics are varied, the guests are wonderful, and the callers provide new perspectives that expand the discussion. A wonderful podcast for anyone who wants to expand their understanding on complex ideas.

APFineday ,

Insightful and well read

Thanks so much for the insightful questions and conversation which are based on the perceptions of well read and thoughtful readers

MnReview ,

defund MPR

biased leftist garbage, these democrat activists need to be defunded

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