This is a place where grandmothers hold babies on their laps under the stars and whisper in their ears that the lights in the sky are holes in the floor of heaven.
That's Rick Bragg's opening sentence in a newspaper report about the devastation wrought by a tornado that killed 20 in his hometown of Piedmont, Alabama in 1994. Painting similar scenes in Louisville with a voice nearly as resonant as his writing in such place-perfect works as "All Over But The Shoutin,'" Bragg was a presenter at the 2010 IdeaFestival, and described the importance of story to himself and culture at large.
Current New York Times writer, Anand Giridharadas, who followed him to the stage a little later in the afternoon, credited Bragg with inspiring him to become a writer.
Photo credit: Geoff Oliver Bugbee