May 7, 1998

After the

by Kate Light


Today's Reading: "After the Season" by Kate Light from THE LAWS OF FALLING BODIES, published by Storyline Press (1997).

It's the birthday in Birmingham, England, 1932 of the poet JENNY JOSEPH, whose best-known work is a little poem titled "Warning," which says, in part: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me. I shall gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my sticks along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth..." She worked in South Africa as a journalist in the late 1950s and was asked to leave for criticizing the government's policy of apartheid.

A German submarine the British ship LUSITANIA on this day in 1915 as it neared the coast of Ireland on its way from New York. Of the 2,000 people onboard, nearly 1,200 lost their lives, including 128 Americans. There was a huge uproar over the fact that the Germans attacked a passenger ship, but it was common knowledge that the U.S. -- which was still neutral in WWI -- was using boats like the Lusitania to send weapons and ammunition to Britain. And it turned out the Lusitania was carrying about 4,000 cases of small arms when she went down.

It's the birthday of two great composers of the 19th-century Romantic era: JOHANNES BRAHMS, born in Hamburg, Germany, 1833; and PETER TCHAIKOVSKY, in Votkinsk, Russia, 1840.

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 »