Stories about the powerful combination of chickens, faith and God in our not-quite-annual, all new for 2008, Poultry Slam. Since our first year on the air, this has been a This American Life tradition, a show about poultry for this time of year when poultry consumption is at its highest.
Special note to chicken enthusiasts: The name of this episode—The Poultry Slam—has nothing to do with slamming poultry. We are not anti-poultry. Our editorial stance is proudly pro-poultry. The show's name is a pun on Chicago's Poetry Slam.
You can see two sample pages of Nicholas Wild's graphic novel here.
Kathie Russo's husband was Spalding Gray, who was best known for delivering monologues onstage—like "Monster in a Box," and "Swimming to Cambodia." On January 10, 2004, he went missing. Witnesses said they saw him on the Staten Island Ferry that night. Two months later, his body was pulled out of the East River. Kathie tells the story of the night he disappeared, and about how, in the weeks following, she and each of their three children were visited by a bird, who seemed to be delivering a message to them. (10 minutes)
Working in a poultry processing plant is one of the most unpleasant jobs you can get in this country. It's low-paid, dangerous and difficult. Barely any poultry plants are represented by a union, especially in the South, where most of the plants are located. So worker rights advocates rely in large part on the church to help them organize workers. And in the past few years, they've been trying something new: They've been using the church to intervene with company management in a very, very personal way. This American Life producer Sarah Koenig tells the story of how one organizer tried this method with a manager at a company called Case Farms, and a plant they have in Morganton, North Carolina. You can learn more in the film Mississippi Chicken, a documentary about poultry factory workers in Canton, Mississippi. (15 minutes)
Wayne Curtis has been puzzling over an unexplained meteorological phenomenon involving chickens...a riddle that's nearly two centuries old. Wayne is the author, most recently, of And A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. (6 minutes)