May 13, 1998

In the Garden

by Eavan Boland


Today's Reading: "In the Garden" by Eavan Boland, from AN ORIGIN LIKE WATER: COLLECTED POEMS 1967-1987, published by W.W. Norton (1996).

It's the birthday in Washington, D.C., 1944, of ARMISTEAD MAUPIN, author of the Tales of the City, six novels about life in a San Francisco rooming house. He grew up in Raleigh and got an English degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After serving in Vietnam he settled in San Francisco where he started writing a daily column for the Chronicle called Tales of the City. The columns became novels centered on Anna Madrigal, the rooming house keeper of Barbary Lane.

It's the birthday in 1940, Boston, of short-story writer and novelist, RACHEL INGALLS, author of The Pearlkillers, The End of Tragedy; and her best-known book, Mrs. Caliban, about a woman who escapes a deteriorating marriage for an affair with an amphibious creature named Larry.

It was on this day in 1933 that workers in the RCA Building in New York's Rockefeller Center destroyed Diego Rivera's mural, MAN AT THE CROSSROADS. Nelson Rockefeller had commissioned Rivera to paint the mural, but didn't care for the results: a painting showing man's progress through technology to a proletarian utopia ending in a big portrait of Lenin. Rockefeller asked Rivera to remove it and he refused, so Rockefeller had building workers scrape it off.

The Canadian jazz pianist GIL EVANS was born in Toronto on this day in 1912. He moved to California when he was a boy and started his first band when he was 21, then hooked up with Claude Thornhill's band in the '40s as arranger. Miles Davis and he had hits between 1948 and 1950, "Moondreams" and "Boplicity" and Evans' arrangements were a part of the Davis' albums in the late '50s, Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain.

DAPHNE DE MAURIER was born in London this day in 1907, the author of the 1938 novel Rebecca, a romance set in a Cornwall mansion. Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine starred in the 1940 movie adaptation. Her other books include Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek; and her short story The Birds that Alfred Hitchcock turned into a movie in 1963.

It's the birthday of painter GEORGES BRAQUE, born near Paris in 1882, who along with Picasso founded the Cubist movement in the first decade of the century. He met Picasso in 1907 and the two artists became friends. The following summer Braque went to the south of France and produced a series of paintings that showed figures in geometrical forms, seen as if from a variety of viewpoints. And that fall, a Paris critic saw the paintings and made a remark about the "cubes" in them, and the label stuck.

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 »