Jul. 13, 1998


by Mark Irwin


Today's Reading: "Woolworth's" by Mark Irwin from QUICK, NOW, ALWAYS, published by Boa Editions (1996).

Today is the start of the three-day BON FESTIVAL in Japan. During the time also known as the Feast of Lanterns, religious rites are performed in memory of the dead who according to Buddhist belief, revisit Earth. Lanterns are lighted for their souls and on the last day huge bonfires in the shape of the character dai are burned on hillsides to bid farewell to the spirits of the dead.

Frank Sinatra recorded his first album, "From the Bottom of My Heart" with the Harry James Band on this day in 1939. Shortly after its release bandleader Tommy Dorsey wooed him away from the James band for $250 a week.

It's the birthday of Nigerian playwright, poet and novelist WOLE SOYINKA, born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1934. Since his imprisonment (for political reasons) during the Nigerian civil war of the late 1960's, he has often written about the conflicts of the new and old in modern Africa. The Interpreters, which came out in 1965 was called the first really modern African novel. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

Itís the birthday of English novelist DAVID STOREY, born in Wakefield, England, in 1933. He set aside his first seven novels before his eighth novel, This Sporting Life, was published in 1960. His other books include the novel Flight into Camden (1960), the play Home (1969), and Saville (1976) the autobiographical account of a coal miner's son which won the Booker Prize.

Poet WILLIAM WORDSWORTH visited the ruins of TINTERN ABBEY in Wales in 1798 and wrote his famous poem about them, "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye on a Tour, July 13, 1798" Five years have passed; five summers, with the length/Of five long winters! And again I hear/These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs/With a soft inland murmur.

It's the birthday of English poet JOHN CLARE, born in the small village of Helpston, England in 1793. He was 27 years old when his first book of poems made him famous overnight, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820). He continued to write but his later collections were never as popular as his first and his financial problems began to affect his health. He spent the final 23 years of his life in an asylum, writing some of his best poems including Selected Poems and Prose which was published in 1966.

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