All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Tyler Hicks’

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That’s Write, Autumn Offers Authors Abounding: Neil White, Sebastian Junger, G.B. Tran and Our Own Tony Abbott


I’ve always wondered: What kind of guy goes out in the world to be a correspondent in areas of war and global conflict? I have a hard enough time most days being a correspondent in a Herman Miller chair and air conditioning. In any case, such a question is not necessarily a thing you can ask a man directly, but I’ve gotten a sense of it from some recent campus visits. New York Times war photographer Tyler Hicks, who visited Davidson last semester, memorably used long silences during his photographic presentation to convey some of the unspoken answers to such wonderings. I don’t know exactly why he does it, but I have a feeling for it after hearing him talk, and not talk, about it.

Sebastian Junger, courtesy photo

On Sept. 20, Davidson audiences will get another renowned hotspot correspondent’s viewpoint, when author Sebastian Junger delivers the college’s prestigious Reynolds Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in Duke Family Performance Hall. Having read some of Junger’s work, I’ll venture to say that Junger’s tales will be just as compelling as Hicks’, with or without images, and with or without silences. Storytelling, in words and images, is their life’s blood, after all.

Junger is the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont and Fire. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Junger works as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a contributor to ABC News. He has covered major international news stories in Liberia, Sierra Leone and around the globe. Tickets are free but required. Call the Union Ticket Office 704-894-2135.

The fall schedule is rife with writers and other creative storytellers. A few highlights:

• At this coming Tuesday’s college common hour, 11:05 a.m., Tues., Sept. 13 in the C. Shaw Smith Room of the Alvarez College Union, author (and Davidson parent) Neil White will discuss his memoir, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, about the year he lived with the last victims of leprosy in the continental United States. He has been a newspaper editor, magazine publisher, advertising executive and federal prisoner. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts was the common reading selection for the Davidson Class of 2015 and the most recent selection of the Davidson College Online Book Club.

• At the end of this month, cartoonist G.B. Tran will discuss his graphic memoir, VIETNAMERICA, a depiction of his family’s survival and escape during the Vietnam War and their reinvention in its aftermath as refugees living in the United States, on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m., in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room, Alvarez College Union. Tran received the 2011 Gregory Millard Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

• Next month, look forward to a Sunday afternoon lecture by Davidson’s Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of English Anthony S. Abbott, Sun., Oct. 16, 3 p.m., Semans Lecture Hall, Belk Visual Arts Center. Abbott is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English Emeritus at Davidson College, where he taught from 1964 to 2001. He is the author of six books of poetry, including the newly published collection If Words Could Save Us, and two novels, including Leaving Maggie Hope, which received the Novello Festival Press Award.

For more arts, entertainment, scholarship and sports, check out the campus calendar.

Tyler Hicks, New York Times War Photographer: Pictures Perfect and a Tale to Tell


The schedule was set months ago for Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times war photographer Tyler Hicks to visit Davidson College. It had been on my calendar since January.

Then, on March 15 while on assignment in Libya, Hicks and three colleagues were captured, beaten and threatened with death by government forces. They were finally released on March 21.

Tyler Hicks

A scant month later on Tuesday night, when Hicks told the gritty, harrowing tale to a full house from a Davidson lectern, the photographer notably had no photographs of the harsh events he described in a steady, understated voice.

Of course, no such pictures exist. Instead, a gallery of some of Hicks’ earlier photographs, transmitted to the Times before his capture, brightened the screen behind him with local Libyan color, from flat desert monochromes to blood-red scenes in the street.

At times the grim parade of pictures also served to fill some long silences as Hicks moved from one part of the story to the next, plainly balancing parts you tell against parts you don’t. At least for now. He was still integrating the brutality of the experience. Not just his and his colleagues’ experience, he said, but the stories of many other human beings who were captured or killed that day at the roadblock where his vehicle was stopped. At the moment of his arrest, a firefight had broken out between government forces and rebels. At present, the New York Times crew’s driver has not been accounted for.

Read Hicks and his colleagues’ full account in the New York Times.

Hicks told his Davidson audience he was not particularly comfortable with “becoming the story,” since his normal job is to report the story. By the same token, he feels obliged to give his own story, with words, the same respect of treatment that he gives to stories he tells, with pictures, about those who survive and those who don’t. Especially those who don’t, and the families who come to appreciate the last images of their loved ones.

Hicks has covered events in Kosovo, Chechnya, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (for nine years and counting). In 2007 he was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year by Pictures of the Year International, and in 2009 he received a Pulitzer Prize for his work documenting conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When a student asked Hicks if he considered his photographs “art,” he responded, “No, I’m just a newspaper hack.” Indeed, star photojournalist or no, he does seem most interested in getting his work out for the sake of the work itself and any good it might bring.

I use the word “star” above advisedly, as an objective descriptor of fact. Hicks himself is full of life and stories but not full of himself, quite down to earth, a pleasant guy I got to know a bit earlier in the day over lunch at Toast along with photographer Todd Sumlin of the Charlotte Observer. He and Sumlin have been buddies since their Wilmington Star-News days together in the early ’90s.

One of the stories Hicks has allowed to be told about himself, recounted in the New York Times article, is that a sheikh in Libya told him he had a “beautiful head”—then promptly announced his intention to chop it off. Everyone in the audience at Hicks’ presentation last night was clearly grateful that his head is still atop his shoulders.

And I for one am grateful that journalists of his caliber and sensitivity are working to bring home to all Americans the stories of our military servicemen and servicewomen and the people they are fighting for and against, in the broadest and deepest possible contexts of global culture.

It’s the world we live in.

Update: Hours after Hicks spoke at Davidson, conflict photographer and producer and director of Restrepo Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya, and three colleagues seriously wounded. Update: One of the three, Chris Hondros, has since died.

A Few Last-Hurrah Highlights from a Semester Full of Arts, Entertainment and Edification


It’s the time of one last push for the Davidson College arts-entertainment-and-edification calendar. There’s a gracious plenty of worthwhile activities going on these last few weeks, even as increasingly caffeinated cumulus clouds of exam-time tension barrel over the horizon. So tell the tax man to take this 1040 and file it, push your books to the back of a carrel for an hour or two, and go see a show or a talk or a game. Here are just a few samplings to consider:

Tyler Hicks

Snap, shot atTyler Hicks, award-winning war-zone photographer for the New York Times, will speak on Tues., April 19 at 7 p.m. in the Lilly Family Gallery in Chambers. Most recently, Hicks was captured by Gaddafi troops in Libya last month.

You go, girls!—Women’s Lacrosse at 1 p.m. Sat. April 16 at Stephen B. Smith Field. Check out the full Wildcats calendar, including baseball games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Fore!—The annual Tom Scott Golf Tournament kicks off tomorrow morning at Birkdale Golf Club, in support of Davidson golf.

Music, music, music—The outstanding trio of Alan Black, cello, Rosemary Furniss, violin, and Phillip Bush, piano, will perform together at Davidson College for the first time on Sunday, April 17, at 3pm in Tyler-Tallman Hall, Sloan Music Center.

Je suis artiste—At the Van Every/Smith Galleries of Belk Visual Arts Center, senior major exhibits are rotating weekly, and Herb Jackson’s Excavations exhibit continues through Wed., April 20.

Break a leg—Student-directed one-act plays open Wednesday night, April 20. The lineup includes BFF, written by Anna Ziegler, Women and Wallace by Jonathan Marc Sherman and Sincerity Forever by Mac Wellman.

You get the idea. There’s lots going on, and a lot of it’s free or featuring user-friendly pricing, so keep an eye on for details.