Tuesday

Mar. 10, 1998

Words the Dreamer Spoke to My Father in Maine

by Robert Bly

TUESDAY 3/10

Today's Reading: "Words the Dreamer Spoke to My Father in Maine" by Robert Bly from MORNING POEMS, published by HarperCollins (1997).

ZELDA FITZGERALD died on this day in Asheville, North Carolina, 1948. She'd been hospitalized since the early 1930s after a couple of nervous breakdowns. Her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda's sanitarium." On the night of March 10 the main building of the hospital caught fire and she was locked in her room on the top floor. She was laid to rest alongside Scott in a Maryland cemetery.

HARRIET TUBMAN, who escaped slavery on a Maryland plantation, also died on this date, in 1913. After she got free (in 1849), she helped more than 300 slaves escape the South through an elaborate network of safe houses called the Underground Railroad.

It's the birthday in Davenport, Iowa, 1903, of jazz cornetist, BIX BEIDERBECKE. He didn't care much for school as a boy and preferred to hang out at the docks in Davenport and listen to the jazz players who'd come up the Mississippi on riverboats from New Orleans. His parents tried to get him interested in school and sent him away to Chicago, but Chicago in the 20s was jumping with jazz and he spent most of his time on the black South Side playing cornet and piano with Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, and Jimmy Noone. He was the first great white jazz player and his 1927 recordings "Singin' the Blues" and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," with saxophonist Frank Trumbauer, became classics.

It's the anniversary of the very FIRST TELEPHONE CALL in 1876. Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas Watson had been working for years on a device to transmit sound through wires, mainly as a means to help deaf people. In his Boston lab, Bell strung a 20-foot wire from one room to another and said seven words, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."

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 »