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Money is on everybody's mind right now:  having it, not having it, maybe not going to get it any time soon.  The financial system imploded because we were all crazily borrowing, investing and spending on faith.  And now, we are trying to keep it afloat by desperately investing on faith--new faith.  It is almost poetic.

That is where Katy Lederer comes in.  Lederer had an MFA in poetry and was living a life of artisic poverty in New York City.  Way behind on her credit card debt and unable to hold on to her apartment, she eventually moved in with her brother in Las Vegas.  He is a champion professional poker player, Howard Lederer.  That is when Katy had a change of heart.

"I thought, 'Well, I want money right now.  I want money and benefits.  Where can I get those things?'  So, I thought 'hedge fund.'  They make money at those things."

This is going back a few years when hedge funds were absolutely booming.   So she took a job at a hedge fund in Times Square that had $3 billion under management.

"I got to mid-town Manhattan and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, money makes the world go around.'  I wasn't seeing this mechanism before.  I didn't understand it.  I never read the business section, I couldn't read the "Wall Street Journal" to save my life.  So, it was like magic--how are they just making more and more of this money?

"I actually took the Series Seven, which is a stock broker's licesnse, a hideous, horrible test, a six-hour test.  There was an 800-page, very dry study book. Learned about what a stock is, about what a bond is.  I didn't know what those things were. 

Lederer eventually learned enough to become a top executive at the fund, but she kept writing poetry on the side, often about money and our complicated lust for it. Now a full-time poet, her recent collection is "Heaven-Sent Leaf." Lederer tells what modern money-making and modern verse have in common.

"I was pretty uncomfortable writing about money.  It is not considered to be particularly couth topic for poetry."

Support PRI when you purchase Katy Lederer's book "The Heaven-Sent Leaf"

PRI's Peabody Award-winning "Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen" from WNYC is public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy — so let "Studio 360" steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.

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