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STREAM PODCASTS – Aspen Ideas to Go

Luis Alberto Urrea


US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

Last year the US Library of Congress named Tracy K. Smith as the country’s Poet Laureate. She follows in the footsteps of notables who have held the position like Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Juan Felipe Herrera. In January, she read her poetry and talked about her creative process at Winter Words. Smith is the author of three books of poetry and the memoir Ordinary Light. Her latest book, Wade in the Water, is due out in April. In it, she looks back at moments in history where the human race failed to choose compassion. She wonders what it would take to love others in a truly generous way. “Love is the animating force of the universe and compassion is what we’re here to embody,” she says, “That’s been a really consoling mantra to have at the back of the mind in an age when that’s the opposite of what we hear most of the time.”

Living The Creative Life 

How is creativity cultivated in childhood? And, does a creative culture at home result in a creative career later on? Authors Jess Walter, Dani Shapiro, and Jericho Brown explain how their early years contributed to a life of writing. Such a life isn’t easy, with rejection, confusion, and disappointment making the pursuit an uphill battle. The writers describe how they find time to put pen to paper, and they read from their works. Don’t miss this funny, reflective, and inspiring discussion moderated by Adrienne Brodeur, author and executive director of Aspen Words.

Aspen Insight: Finding Power

The second half of this episode features Adrienne Brodeur in conversation about the twenty nominees for the Aspen Words Literary Prize celebrating mission-driven fiction. The works cover topics including immigration, inequality, incarceration, climate change, and much more.

War Reporting, Novel Writing, and How to Tell a Great Story


Powerhouse literary couple Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz didn’t start their careers writing books. The two were war correspondents covering events like the Gulf War in the 1990s. In this episode, Brooks and Horwitz are onstage for a lecture series held by Aspen Words, the literary organization of The Aspen Institute. Besides recalling their reporting experiences, the duo discuss what it takes to write a great book. Brooks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novelist. Her first book Year of Wonderswas an international bestseller. Her latest work The Secret Chord, is based on the life of King David. Horwitz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and has written several bestsellers, including Midnight Risingabout a raid in the slaveholding South that sparked the Civil War.

Poetry, Justice, and Alienation

Can art tackle some of the most difficult social-justice questions we face today? Over the past year we have witnessed images of our country at war with itself; how can poetry dispel alienation and give rise to a new level of citizenship in America? This podcast features three of America’s most powerful poetic voices, beginning with an excerpt from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s 2016 Winter Words talk, and followed by an Aspen Ideas Festival conversation with Elizabeth Alexander (author of The Light of the World) and Claudia Rankine (author of Citizen: An American Lyric). 

Winter Words Author Series


Three authors shed light on the writing life and the stories behind their works. New York Times bestseller Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins), former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (Thrall), and LA Times Book Prize winner Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being). They spoke at the 2015 Winter Words series.

Flash Boys and the Human Piranha

Michael Lewis is the author of the bestsellers Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, among other books. After graduating from Princeton University and the London School of Economics, Lewis worked on the bond desk at Salomon Brothers, an experience he recounted in Liar’s Poker, his first book. He left the financial world to become a journalist, writing on politics, finance and more for the New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Slate and other publications. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and columnist at Bloomberg View. Recorded live at Winter Words. NOTE: This episode contains explicit language.

Wild Author Cheryl Strayed at Winter Words


For our inaugural podcast, we are thrilled to present Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of the memoir Wild. The film adaptation of Strayed’s memoir stars Reese Withersoon as Strayed and Laura Dern as her mother. Both actresses were nominated for Academy Awards at the 2015 Oscars.

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