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Culture & Religion

The Sleeping Giant – Liza Jessie Peterson – Think Again Podcast #103

Spontaneous talk on surprise topics. Poet, playwright, and arts educator Liza Jessie Peterson on lessons learned teaching incarcerated youth on Rikers Island. 


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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Liza Jessie Peterson is an actress, poet, playwright, and arts-educator who’s been working with adolescent boys and girls incarcerated on Rikers Island for the past 18 years. Her fierce, funny, powerfully written new book is All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids At Rikers Island. The loving and specific portraits she paints of her students highlight the cruelty of the systems (economic, school, police, prison) that fail so many young black men, landing them and keeping them in prison.

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In this episode we talk about cultural icons and the realities behind them, hip-hop, the trauma of poverty and the tragedy of the American prison system, and how to make impossible situations better. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Marie Gottschalk on solitary confinement

About Think Again – A Big Think Podcast: You’ve got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think’s interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.



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