Feb. 21, 1998

Oranges and Lemons

by Anonymous


Today's Reading: "Oranges and Lemons" from THE OXFORD NURSERY RHYME BOOK.

The American Black Muslim leader, MALCOLM X, was assassinated in Harlem on this date in 1965. He had just finished speaking to a rally at the Audobon Ballroom when three gunmen stood up from the crowd and fired.

It's the birthday of columnist ERMA BOMBECK, born in Dayton, Ohio, 1927. In 1964 the last of her three children started school, and she said she was, "too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security and too tired for an affair." So she began to write columns for three dollars a week for her local suburban paper in Dayton. By the early 90s her column was carried in over 600 papers, three times a week. She died from kidney disease in the spring of 1996.

It's the birthday in Yorkshire, England of poet W.H. AUDEN, in 1907. He went to college at Oxford University and a group of fellow students were so impressed by his poems that they hand-printed 30 copies of his first collection. In the 1930s he became involved in political causes and drove ambulance for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. He moved to New York just before WWII and became an American citizen.

The Washington Monument was dedicated on this date in 1885 a memorial to our first president. It took 36 years to build made of granite and marble and standing 555 feet high on the Mall in the nation's capital. It opened to the public in October 1888.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »