NPR Staff

You may know the acclaimed poet Elizabeth Alexander from her reading at President Obama's 2009 swearing-in ceremony.

Alexander, who teaches at Yale, published a new book earlier this year — but it's not poetry. The Light of the World is a memoir of the 16 years she shared with her husband Ficre, until his sudden death a few years ago.

As events marking the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown were winding down Sunday night, gunfire erupted in Ferguson, Mo., leaving a gunman in the hospital. Police say the suspect was not part of the weekend's rallies, which have been peaceful.

The shooting, in which dozens of rounds were reportedly fired, began near the intersection of Ferguson Avenue and West Florissant Avenue, the epicenter of last summer's standoffs between protesters and police.

Ten years after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina breached the levees, inundating and devastating the city, many residents feel the city is making significant headway, according to a new poll by NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which nonetheless reveals deep racial disparities in the recovery.

NPR's David Greene speaks with Liz Hamel, director of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation about the survey findings.

It has been exactly one year since police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Mourners there marked the anniversary Sunday with a moment of silence, gathering in remembrance and protest of the shooting.

Michael Brown's father spoke before a crowd of hundreds, according to St. Louis Public Radio's Camille Phillips. Around noon, Phillips reports that the crowd was called upon for 4 1/2 minutes of silence.

Heavy metal is one music culture whose concerts can get pretty aggressive. Stage divers often try to climb up with the band then launch themselves into the awaiting arms of the audience — or that's the idea. In the city of Prague in 2010, one fan wasn't so lucky: At a particularly unruly show by the band Lamb of God, Daniel Nosek fell off the stage, hit his head and died weeks later.

In her new film, Ricki and the Flash, Meryl Streep plays a musician who used to dream about making it big; now, she's content to play in a cover band, in a bar. Her boyfriend and bandmate is named Greg, and he's played by real-life rock star Rick Springfield.

The film was written by Diablo Cody, who says her inspiration for the character Ricki came from her own life.

Jennine Capó Crucet was the first person in her family to be born in the United States. Her parents came to Florida from Cuba, and she grew up in Hialeah, a suburb of Miami that is 95 percent Hispanic.

For Crucet, going to Cornell was a bit of a shock — she was the first person in her family to attend college at all, let alone at a prestigious school in upstate New York.

Think back to the 1990s — to movies like Boyz n the Hood or Menace II Society.

Now, imagine one of those movies shot in black and white, with prayer beads and scenes from a mosque. And imagine it all in French.

Author Rebecca Stead collects ideas before she sits down to write, even from the smallest encounters — like this one:

"The idea came from a girl — she was wearing cat ears, and I said 'nice ears,'" she tells NPR's Melissa Block. "And she said, 'Thanks! I've been wearing them for a year! I don't know why!' And then she ran away."

Louis Sachar knows a few things about writing for kids. His first book, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, came out in 1978 — and the wacky collection is still in print.

His 1999 Newbery Medal winner, Holes, centers on a boy wrongly confined to a juvenile detention facility. It's mysterious and creepy, and it's still flying off the shelves.

So if he says kids will love a scary eco-bioterror-mystery-thriller-comedy, you just might trust him.

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