Jul. 17, 1998

American Summer

by Edward Hirsch


Today's Reading: "American Summer" by Edward Hirsch from ON LOVE, published by Alfred A. Knopf (1998).

In Yarmouth, Maine the 33rd YARMOUTH CLAM FESTIVAL gets underway today.

The ten-day MINNEAPOLIS AQUATENNIAL begins today with over 30 events including a milk-carton boat race, sand- sculpture competitions, fireworks, and a torch light parade.

THE KANSAS CITY BLUES AND JAZZ FESTIVAL takes place this weekend at Penn Valley Park (Kansas City, Mo.).

Itís the birthday of composer and humorist PETER SCHICKELE, in Ames, Iowa, in 1935, the creator of P.D.Q. Bach.

Hungarian poet LASZLO NAGY (nahj) was born in Felsöiszkáz, Hungary, on this day in 1925. The son of peasant farmers he grew up in the countryside and intended to become a painter but settled on a career in poetry, publishing his first collection, Tünj el, fájás (Vanish, Pain) in 1949.

Itís the birthday of novelist and short-story writer JAMES (AMOS) PURDY, in Ohio, in 1923, author of Donít Call Me By My Right Name and Other Stories and the novels Cabot Wright Begins (1964), I Am Elijah Thrush (1972) and Candles of Your Eyes (1986).

English poet and literary critic DONALD (ALFRED) DAVIE was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, on this day in 1922. During the 1950s he became a leader of an influential conservative literary group called The Movement, which stressed purity of language and steered away from romanticism.

Itís the birthday of photographer BERENICE ABBOTT, in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, who went to Europe at the age of 23 to study sculpture and drawing and wound up working as a darkroom assistant to the surrealist Man Ray. She set up a portrait photography studio in Paris, where her models included many artists and writers, including James Joyce and Jean Cocteau. Abbott returned to New York in the 1930s and documented the architectural character of the city in striking black-and-white photographs, many of which were published in the book Changing New York (1939).

Belgian astronomer GEORGES LEMAÎTRE was born in Charleroi, Belgium, on this day in 1894. He proposed the big-bang theory, maintaining that the universe originated with a gigantic explosion of what he called a small super-atom, and that the universe is constantly expanding.

Itís the birthday of novelist and attorney ERLE STANLEY GARDNER, in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1889, the creator of the famous lawyer and detective character, Perry Mason. He started writing stories about the courtroom for pulp magazines, then in 1933 he wrote his first book, The Case of the Velvet Claws, introducing the Perry Mason character.

Israeli novelist and short-story writer S.Y. AGNON (SAMUEL JOSEF CZACZKES) was born in what is now Buchach, Ukraine, on this day in 1888. He became an active Zionist in his teens and moved to Palestine when he was 19, and soon published his first novel, Agunot (Forsaken Wives, 1909), and from the title derived his pen name. Agnon means "cut off" in Hebrew, the language he always wrote in. His other novels include A Guest for the Night (1938), The Day Before Yesterday (1945) and A Dwelling Place of My People (1983).

Itís the birthday of English nonconformist minister and hymn writer ISAAC WATTS, in Southampton, in 1674. He wrote a number of famous Protestant hymns, most while serving as pastor of Mark Lane Independent Chapel in London during the early 1700s including "Behold the Glories of the Lamb," "Jesus Shall Reign," and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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