On Being’s Krista Tippett hosts  SELECTED SHORTS this week.  She notes that on her show, “we often find ourselves talking to poets and writers about meaning and mystery and how intertwined these things are with both art and faith,” and the works on this program reflect this.

“The Doctor and The Rabbi” argue about the efficacy of prayer in Aimee Bender’s story, read by Ellen Burstyn.  Bender’s published works have luscious titles: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures, An Invisible Sign of My Own, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and most recently, The Color Master.

Ellen Burstyn’s distinguished career includes Oscar-nominated performances in “The Last Picture Show,” “The Exorcist,” “Resurrection,”  and “Requiem for a Dream,” and her Best Actress performance in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”  She is also a Tony winner for her performance in “Same Time, Next Year.”  Burstyn’s work in television includes the shows “That’s Life,” “Big Love,” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

Elmore Leonard, who died in 2013, was best known for his many hard-boiled thrillers, including The Switch, Glitz, and Get Shorty.  But he has some lighted-hearted fun with the hail Mary football pass in “Spirituality, with or Without a Prayer,” read by Julie White.  White is best-known for her Tony Award-winning performance in “The Little Dog Laughed,” and for roles on “Grace Under Fire,” and “The Transformers” series of films.

The title says it all in Jenny Hollowell’s “The History of Everything Including You,” read by Kyra Sedgwick.   Hollowell is the author of the novel Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe.  Her short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Scheherezade, and the anthology New Sudden Fiction.

Reader Kyra Sedgwick is best known for her starring role on television program “The Closer.”  Her film work includes “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Singles,” “Heart and Souls,” “Phenomenon,” “The Possession,” and “The Edge of Seventeen.”  Most recently, she made her directorial debut with “Story of a Girl,” starring her daughter (with husband Kevin Bacon) Sosie Bacon.

The program concludes with U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reading two favorite poems of Krista Tippett’s.   The first is Carl Dennis’s “The God Who Loves You,” which Tippett says “has been hanging on the wall in my office for years.”  The second is Pablo Neruda “Poetry.”   Tippett thinks of it as a talisman–something to carry around with you.


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