Jul. 8, 1998


by Stephanie Marlis


Today's Reading: "Aquarium" by Stefanie Marlis from RIFE: POEMS, published by Saraband Books (1998).

Today is the 45th birthday of columnist and novelist ANNA QUINDLEN, born in Philadelphia (1953). After becoming a star columnist for The New York Times she resigned her post as deputy metropolitan editor to write fiction and care for her two young sons. In 1992 she won a Pulitzer Prize for her op-ed commentary in the Times.

It's the birthday of DR. ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS, born in Zurich, Switzerland (1926) – known mostly for her first book, On Death and Dying (1969), for which she interviewed hundreds of dying people in hospitals. Contrary to popular belief, she found that the dying were mostly eager to talk about death. Based on her interviews and observations, she decided that a terminally ill person faces five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

On this day in 1918, ERNEST HEMINGWAY WAS WOUNDED in Italy. An ambulance driver for the American Red Cross, Hemingway, still a teenager, was nearly killed by an exploding shell while carrying a wounded Italian soldier to safety. The Italian died; Hemingway lived, though slivers of shrapnel worked their way out of his leg for the rest of his life.

Journalist SARAH MCCLENDON was born today in 1910 in Tyler Texas, enlisted in the WACS and was sent to the Pentagon in Washington, where she ended up covering presidential press conferences from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan in a career spanning more than 50 years.

It's the birthday of architect PHILIP C(ortelyou) JOHNSON, born in Cleveland, Ohio (1906). He worked with Mies van der Rohe in designing the Seagram Building (New York, 1958) and went to design many other buildings with architect John Henry Burgee including the IDS Center in Minneapolis (1974) and the AT&T Building in New York 1982) – with its top that resembles a Chippendale cabinet.

Writer RICHARD ALDINGTON was born today in Hampshire, England, in 1892. His experiences in World War I led to his bet-known novel, Death of a Hero (1929), and the sequel All Men Are Enemies which came out three years later (1933).

It's the birthday of poet WILLIAM VAUGHAN MOODY, born in Spencer, Indiana (1869). Though considered an inspiring teacher at Harvard, he hated the work, and gave it up once a textbook he co-wrote enabled him to concentrate on writing poetry and plays. His most popular work was a play called The Great Divide (1906), about the conflict between Eastern American puritanism and the individualism of the western frontier.

It was on this day in 1822 that the poet PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY DROWNED in Italy, off Viareggio, a month before his 30th birthday. He was sailing his small schooner Ariel home to La Spezia after visiting the poet Byron at Livorno. He was cremated on the beach where his body washed ashore.

It's the birthday of French writer JEAN DE LA FONTAINE, born in Chateau-Thierry, France (1621), the author of comedies, lyrics, elegies, ballads and licentious tales, but best remembered for his 240 Fables.

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
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  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
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  • “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
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  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
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  • “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
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  • “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
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