Mar. 31, 1998

A Primer of the Daily Round

by Howard Nemerov


Today's Reading: "A Primer of the Daily Round" by Howard Nemerov from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF HOWARD NEMEROV, published by The University of Chicago Press.

Thor Heyerdahl's book, KON TIKI, was published in its English translation on this day in 1950. The original had come out two years earlier in Norwegian and was a big success, detailing Heyerdahl's trip from Peru to Polynesia aboard a raft made of 40-foot balsa logs. His theory was that South Americans were the first settlers in the South Pacific islands, and that there may have been contact between Egypt and South America centuries before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. He made the trip to test the theory. It was 4,300 miles and lasted 101 days.

It's the birthday in Chicago, 1936, of the poet and novelist MARGE PIERCY, who was brought up poor and white in a black neighborhood and whose writing talks about race and women's rights. Her novels are often a part of women's courses in colleges and universities. They include Braided Lives, the story of growing up white in a black community; Dance the Eagle to Sleep, and Small Changes all published in the 1970s and 80s. Some of her poetry collections are Breaking Camp, and The Moon Is Always Female. The moon is always female and so am I although often in this vale of razorblades I have wished I could put on and take off my sex like a dress and why not?

Today is the anniversary of SHERLOCK HOLMES' resurrection in 1905. Arthur Conan Doyle created Holmes in 1887 and wrote a string of detective novels that the British bought like hotcakes. But Doyle grew tired of writing Holmes mysteries, so, in 1893 he killed Holmes off by having him duke it out with the evil Professor Moriarity at the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes went over the falls and that was supposed to be the end of him but the public wouldn't hear of it. For 12 years Doyle ignored their request for another Holmes story, then in 1905 came out with The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

The EIFFEL TOWER OPENED up on this day in 1889. About half of Paris loved it and the other half thought it was abominable too much a work of science in a city of art. At a fifth of a mile high, it was the world's tallest structure and everybody worried that it would fall down, but Alexander Eiffel built it so that the winds that hit the top of the tower actually force the thing down onto its base rather than make it wobble. It took him two years to build and have ready for the 1889 Paris Exhibition which celebrated the centenary of the French Revolution. Eiffel was also the man who built the steel structure that holds up the Statue of Liberty, and the locks for the Panama Canal.

Charles Dickens began publishing his first novel, THE PICKWICK PAPERS, on this day in 1836. He brought it out in monthly installments and the first print run was only 400 copies; the book was a hit, and by the time he reached the 15th part, he was making 40,000 copies each month. In the novel, the characters meet at a tavern named The George and Vulture, which is still standing in London, not far from the Bank of England.

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




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