Thursday

Jul. 2, 1998

Nocturne

by W. D. Snodgrass

THURSDAY 7/2

Today's Reading: "Nocturne" by W.D. Snodgrass.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 on this day, prohibiting discrimination in employment and establishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Act also guaranteed voting rights, and banned discrimination in restaurants, hotels, and theaters.

BARRY GRAY, the radioman who created the talk show format, was born on this day in Red Lion, New Jersey, 1916. He started off as a DJ in California and Florida, before WMCA in New York hired him in 1950. His show mixed discussion, opinion, and a little music, and was broadcast from Chandler's Restaurant on East 46th Street, midnight to 3 a.m. He was on the air for nearly 40 years. He died a year and a half ago.

It's the birthday in 1908 of Supreme Court justice THURGOOD MARSHALL. He was born and raised in Baltimore, named for his grandfather "Thoroughgood," who was a Union army soldier in the Civil War. After law school he went to work for the NAACP and became chief of its legal staff in 1940. He won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court; among them, Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, which declared unconstitutional the "separate but equal" system of racial segregation in public schools of 21 states. In 1967 he became the Court's first African American Justice, and served for the next 24 years.

It's the birthday in Germany, 1877, of HERMANN HESSE author of Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927) and other books. He didn't care much for school when he was a boy, so he was apprenticed in a factory that made tower-clocks. He didn't take to that either, but he finally landed a job in a nearby bookstore, which he loved and where he began writing poems and stories. His first novel, Peter Camenzind, came out in 1904 and was about a failed and dissipated writer. It was a hit and over the next four decades he published a new novel or short-story collection every three or four years.

It was on this day in 1865 that WILLIAM BOOTH FOUNDED THE SALVATION ARMY. Booth was a 36-year-old itinerant preacher working in Whitechapel, one of London's worst slums, and his congregation was largely made up of the area's homeless. To bring some sense of order into their lives he established the Army along military lines, complete with uniforms: ministers were officers, parishioners were soldiers. He took a special interest in alcoholics and worked to get them educated, housed, and employed. Today the Salvation Army is in more than 90 countries, with a membership of 1.5 million.

It's the birthday in Paris, 1847, of MARCEL-ALEXANDRE BERTRAND, the geologist who first put forth the theory that certain mountains were formed by the folding of the Earth's crust. He did most of his work in the 1880s and '90s, spending summers climbing the French Alps. In 1887, he developed what he called a "wave concept" of mountain building, where massive folds of earth were heaved onto one another during successive geological periods.

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 »