In the August heat, the waiting room of the Sulaimany Centre for Heart Disease was packed with worried parents. Some had been waiting for this day for months. Others just showed up. They had heard on TV that for 11 days an international team would be fixing children's hearts for free. They dressed their sick children in suits and taffeta dresses and came, prepared to beg.
In the mountains of northwest Iraq, people are gathering again. Four times a year they pile their cars high with mattresses and food and travel to the base of a narrow valley to visit Lalish, the place where the earth began.
In the early evening when the wind is low, the calls to prayer multiply into a thousand echoes as they drift through the ruins of Erbilís citadel. It is around this time the guards herd visitors out through two massive archways and settle in for the long night, smoking cigarettes in the
moonlight. If they listen closely, the cry of a baby is the only thing that can be heard from within the city walls.
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The studio loft on the Near West Side is unabashedly girly, with deep red walls and plush fabric. On this midwinter night, students are greeted like family and act very at home, lounging on the couch doing math homework or texting on blackberries while they wait for class to begin. Another instructor sits in the corner and sews. It feels almost like hanging out in a friend's living room, until the music cues up and you realize that the instructor in the corner is wearing a T-shirt that reads "I heart boobies" and she's sewing feathers onto a hot pink bra.
Two Chicago art lovers say they have a potential solution to the financial squeeze being felt by art museums and institutions: Share the wealth locked up in those collections. Their proposed funding mechanism would change the way art is bought and sold in the U.S.
Poet Gregory Pickett started the new year at a homeless shelter in Wrigleyville. But losing his job, his apartment, and spending a brief stint sleeping on el trains has had an odd side-benefit, Pickett says. His poetry is getting better, and he's finally finding some of the success he's sought for the last 10 years. (audio story)
More: Pickett & audio story featured on Indiefeed's performance poetry podcast