NPR Staff

In January 1997, the poet Miller Williams stood on the steps of the Capitol at President Bill Clinton's second inauguration and read a poem he'd written about our country:

We have memorized America,

how it was born and who we have been and where.

In ceremonies and silence we say the words,

telling the stories, singing the old songs.

We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.

It's almost Valentine's Day, but this week we're not talking about love. Instead, we decided to talk about the other forces behind our romantic relationships. First, we learn where to get the best deal on engagement rings, but also why you'll never buy one (they're cursed).

Then, Shankar talks with Morning Editions' David Greene about why matchmakers are so darn happy (they are). Dan Pink joins Shankar for another round of Stopwatch Science with all kinds of interesting research about dating and mating.

In 1999, Jhumpa Lahiri won a Pulitzer Prize for her very first book, Interpreter of Maladies. Her 2003 novel, Namesake, was turned into a movie, and she went on to publish Unaccustomed Earth and The Lowland. But Lahiri wasn't satisfied.

"I've always been searching to arrive at a certain voice that will probably elude me forever," she tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

So Lahiri is trying something new — very new. She wrote her new memoir, In Other Words, in Italian.

If you watched Sunday's Super Bowl, how did you get it? Over cable? Rabbit ears? (Yes, those still work.) Or did you stream it online?

Not that long ago, being a woman in the workplace was different. Just watch any episode of Mad Men.

That was just the way things were back then. It wasn't until 1986 that the Supreme Court acknowledged that there's something called sexual harassment and it's a violation of federal civil rights law.

In 2009, one of the founders of the online eyeglass maker Warby Parker approached management consultant Adam Grant about becoming an early investor. Grant says he declined because the company's founders weren't working at their startup full time; he also says it was the worst financial decision he's ever made.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

All football players know they're one big hit away from the end of their career. Delvin Breaux was a high school senior with a scholarship on the line when he took one of those hits. It broke his neck.

With February comes Black History Month in the U.S., a time designated to reflect on the history and contributions of people of African descent in this country. And while the month may invite debate among some, one thing rarely does in the U.S.: the idea of calling oneself, or being described as, black or African-American.

There was a time when it felt like Keurig coffee pods were going to take over the world — or at least encircle it.

But now sales are on the decline, down some $60 million from last year.

The company has faced criticism because the individual coffee pods are not kind to the environment. But Venessa Wong with BuzzFeed says that's not the only factor that's contributed to the decline in sales.

The band School of Seven Bells wrote its final album together in 2012, but it's only now being released. They didn't know it at the time, but one of the band's two members, Benjamin Curtis, was about to be diagnosed with cancer. He died the following year at the age of 35.

The Jordanian movie Theeb has been nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar. It's a beautiful, sweeping story set in 1916 in an area of western Saudi Arabia then known as the Hejaz. The film's director, Naji Abu Nowar, says Theeb covers a pivotal moment in the region's history.

"The First World War is kicking off ... and the war is coming toward this area of Hejaz," he tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "The British are ... inciting the Arab tribes to revolt against the Ottoman imperialists. And so you're on the brink of a massive change."

Editor's Note: Some may find the graphic material in this post disturbing.

"I remember taking the gun out," says Sean Smith. "My sister was off to the side of the room."

Smith, now 36, was just 10 years old at the time. He had arrived home after school with his 8-year-old sister, Erin. Their parents weren't home yet, so they'd gone searching for hidden video games in their father's dresser drawer.

That's when Sean Smith found a .38 revolver.

The world of haute cuisine lost one of its brightest stars over the weekend.

Benoit Violier, a French Swiss chef who many said was the best in the world, died in his home in Switzerland in what appears to have been a suicide. He was 44.

The NPR Politics Podcast team has a lot to discuss in the wake of the Iowa caucuses. It was a record-breaking night, with more than 180,000 people, and 22,000 young people, participating in the Republican caucuses. Ted Cruz walked away victorious while Donald Trump claimed second place and Marco Rubio finished a strong third.

Twenty years ago, when the O.J. Simpson verdict was delivered, actor Courtney B. Vance says he celebrated — but he wasn't exactly cheering for the former NFL player.

"I cheered for Emmett Till," — the African-American teenager lynched in Mississippi in 1955 — he says. "I cheered for all the strange fruit that hung on the trees for three centuries."

Writer Yann Martel is best known for his 2001 book Life of Pi, about a teenage boy adrift at sea with a Bengal tiger. Now Martel has a new novel called The High Mountains of Portugal. It's made up of three interlocking stories that cover almost a century. Like Life of Pi, The High Mountains of Portugal is about journeys and it also features an animal (this time a chimpanzee).

To people who live in big cities, the sound of honking, the whir of traffic, the howl of street vendors and the clang of construction can just be background noise.

But for Nigerian sound and video artist Emeka Ogboh, the city is his palette — his symphony of sound. And his compositions can whisk the listener to another time and place.

Over the past 25 years, there's been no more prominent name in gospel music than Kirk Franklin. In that time, the singer has been no stranger to controversy. By merging hip-hop with gospel, he brought the stars and sound of the club scene into the church — and not everyone in the church has been comfortable with that.

Monday's Iowa caucuses are being billed, as they are every election season, as "a fight for the soul of the Party," both Democratic and Republican.

Yes, it's a worn-out cliché, but especially on the Republican side this year, it's a real battle.

As many know, parenting isn't an easy job. It can be hugely frustrating and even lonely trying to figure out what's best for your kid. Should you be a taskmaster or a best friend? Is there a middle ground? The pressures of full-time work and round-the-clock activities can make that question even more challenging to tackle.

Last week, a conversation on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, about reading books with difficult material surrounding race and gender to your children, sparked a lot of criticism.

NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with editor Jeremy Adam Smith about the controversy over A Birthday Cake For George Washington, a children's book that portrays a slave chef and his daughter preparing the desert for the president.

Saul Williams is a man with a message — and he'll will use any medium available to share that message. As a writer and poet he's published five books, including The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop. As an actor he's appeared in film and television, and recently starred in Holler If Ya Hear Me, a broadway musical featuring the music of Tupac Shakur.

Was Andy Warhol a collector of beautiful and mundane things, or was he a full-blown hoarder? Did Abraham Lincoln suffer from melancholia, or was he clinically depressed? Did Albert Einstein have autism? These are the questions journalist Claudia Kalb seeks to answer in her new book, Andy Warhol Was A Hoarder: Inside The Minds Of History's Great Personalities.

Kalb tells NPR's Rachel Martin how she went about diagnosing the historic figures she talks about in her book.

The World Health Organization has described the advance of the Zika virus as "explosive." It was first detected in Brazil in 2015 and has spread to at least 22 countries since. The mosquito-borne virus has been associated with severe birth defects in babies born to infected mothers.

In the winter of 1987, music producer Todd Lockwood was on the lookout for a hot new project to grow his label. Lockwood owned the White Crow recording studio in Burlington, Vt. — and he didn't have to look far to find his bold idea.

That idea? Get Bernie Sanders — then the longtime mayor of Burlington — into the studio to record a few of his favorite songs.

Readers have waited almost 15 years for a second novel from the acclaimed Alexander Chee, following the highly-praised Edinburgh. The wait is over.

The Queen Of The Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery. Lilliet Berne is the most famous soprano in the French opera. She is offered the role of a lifetime: an original part written for her. But then she sees that the opera must be based on a part of her life she's kept under wraps.

For decades, Diane Rehm has hosted her own daily talk show. The Peabody Award winner first took over as host of the midday show for NPR member station WAMU in 1979; only late last year, Rehm announced that she plans to retire sometime after the 2016 presidential election.

Andy Goodling met his boyfriend, Bryan, at college in Pennsylvania. Six years ago, they started dating — but for years, they kept their relationship hidden.

"Bryan was my best friend, but we were both very much in the closet," Goodling tells his father, Scott, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "You know, we knew who we were. We just didn't want to actually say it."

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