Jul. 21, 1998

In summer by the sea

by Yehuda Amichai

More Idleness

by Tom Hennen


Today's Reading: "In summer by the sea" by Yehuda Amichai from THE GREAT TRANQUILLITY, published by Sheep Meadow Press (1997). "More Idleness" by Tom Hennen from CRAWLING OUT THE WINDOW, published by Black Hat Press (1997).

It's the birthday of poet TESS GALLAGHER in Port Angeles, Washington, 1943. Her collections include Stepping Outside, Portable Kisses, and Instructions to the Double.

It's the birthday in Edmonton, Alberta, 1911, of the writer and critic MARSHALL McLUHAN – who said, "It is the medium that is the message because the medium creates an environment that is indelible and lethal." In the mid-1960s came out with his books Understanding Media, and The Medium is the Massage. He believed that the way we acquire information affects us more than the information itself; since TV involves more of our senses than reading, he believed the printed book to be doomed.

It's the birthday in the Chicago suburb, Oak Park, of ERNEST HEMINGWAY, born in 1899, and author of A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, and dozens of short stories. He ran with the bulls in Spain, hunted big game in Africa, fished for marlin in the Caribbean, was wounded in WWI, came ashore with the troops on D-Day in WWII. He won the Nobel Prize, and at 61 years old – sick with diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and severe depression – took his own life. He once wrote down all the things he loved to do: "To stay in places and to leave, to trust, to distrust, to no longer believe and to believe again. To see what happens, to be out in boats, to sit in a saddle, to watch the snow come, to watch it go, to hear rain on a tent, to know where I can find what I want."

Poet HART CRANE, who wrote "The Bridge," was born on this day in 1899 in Garrettsville, Ohio. After an unhappy boyhood in Cleveland he moved to New York and his poems began appearing in magazines. His first book came out when he was 27 years old, the collection called White Buildings. It sold well and he began work on a big, 15-part cycle of poems inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge. When "The Bridge" came out in 1930 Crane went to Mexico City, where he planned to write an epic about Mexico, but he killed himself on the ship back to the U.S. by jumping overboard.

The first major battle in the Civil War took place on this day in 1861, fought in northern Virginia around a little creek named BULL RUN, not far from the town of Manassas. Neither army was adequately trained or equipped at this stage of the war, and the battle see-sawed back and forth. The North had thought this was going to be a cakewalk: hundreds of sight-seers even came along with the troops and took picnic baskets to the battlefield to watch. 5,000 men were killed that day and the Federals fled in confusion back to Washington. Bull Run convinced President Lincoln that the war would be long and costly.

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