Monday

Jul. 6, 1998

A Short History of the Middle West

by Robert Dana

MONDAY 7/6

Today's Reading: "A Short History of the Middle West" by Robert Dana from STARTING OUT FOR THE DIFFICULT WORLD, published by Harper & Row (1987).

THE DALAI LAMA, TENZIN GYATSO, was born in Taktser, Tibet, on this day in 1935, the same day the 13th Dalai Lama died. The son of Tibetan peasants, he was identified as the 14th reincarnation of Buddha by monks when he was two years old, passing a test by recognizing possessions of the previous Dalai Lama. He was enthroned two years later.

The FIRST FEATURE FILM WITH SOUND, The Lights of New York, premiered in a midnight gala on this day in 1928 at New York's Strand Theatre.

Lyric soprano DOROTHY KIRSTEN was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on this day in 1910. She studied voice at Juilliard at night while working days demonstrating sewing machines. She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1945 where she performed for the next 30 years, specializing in the lead roles of such Puccini operas as Tosca, La Bohème and Madame Butterfly.

It's the birthday of painter FRIDA KAHLO, in Coyoacán, Mexico, in 1907. She was 18 when she was severely injured in a bus accident. She never fully recovered, and endured 35 operations during her lifetime, but started to paint while bedridden. With encouragement from muralist Diego Rivera, who she later married, she produced brightly-colored paintings in a primitive style that incorporated elements of Mexican folk art.

On this day in 1895, short-story writer O. HENRY (WILLIAM SYDNEY PORTER) jumped on a train headed for New Orleans, fleeing charges that he had embezzled funds from a Texas bank where he had worked as a teller. Facing trial, he shipped out of New Orleans for Central America, where he hung out with outlaw Al Jennings before returning to Texas two years later when he learned his wife was suffering from a serious illness. He eventually spent more than three years in prison.

Louis PASTEUR GAVE THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL ANTI-RABIES INOCULATION on this day in 1885 to a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WAS FORMED on this day in 1854 at Jackson, Michigan, by a group of former Whigs, Democrats and Free-Soilers whose philosophy placed national interests over states' rights and ardently opposed slavery. They selected the name Republican in honor of Thomas Jefferson's "republicanism," soon replaced the Whigs as chief rivals of the Democrats, and won the presidency with their second presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

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 Sharon Olds 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 »