Sunday

Aug. 9, 1998

A Walk Along The Old Tracks

by Robert Kinsley

SUNDAY 8/9

Today's Reading: "A Walk Along the Old Tracks" by Robert Kinsley from ENDANGERED SPECIES, published by Orchises.

The SECOND ATOMIC BOMB was dropped by the U.S. on this day in 1945, on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The intended target was the city of Kokura, but poor visibility forced the B-29 bomber on to Nagasaki. The bomb detonated at 11:02 a.m., local time, and destroyed about half the city, killing 70,000 people. The Japanese surrendered, and WWII formally ended September 2nd.

It's the birthday of P. L. TRAVERS, the writer who created Mary Poppins, born in Maryborough, Australia in 1899. Her full name was Pamela Lyndon Travers, but she only signed her work with the initials P.L.T. She spent most of her life in England and lived to be 96, writing essays, stories, and journalism well into her 80s – but nothing so well known as her very first book, Mary Poppins. It came out in 1934, a tale about the Banks family at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in London, and the nanny who flies in under an umbrella, slides up staircases, produces furniture out of her satchel, and takes the children's temperature with a thermometer that registers moods, not degrees.

It's the birthday of JEAN PIAGET, the Swiss psychologist, born in Neuchatel, 1896. Piaget taught psychology for 50 years at the University of Geneva, and his specialty was children. He researched how children learn and theorized that a child learns in four basic stages: from birth to about two years old, they're trying to master physical things like blocks and toys; from ages 2 to 6, the child absorbs language; until 12, it's mostly numbers and the relationships between things; then to the age of 15, it's more abstract concepts.

It's the birthday in Charlton, Massachusetts, 1819, of the doctor who first used anesthesia during surgery, WILLIAM THOMAS GREEN MORTON. Morton was a Boston dental surgeon who hit on the idea of trying ether. He gave it to a hen on his farm and tried it himself, losing consciousness for eight minutes. Soon, a dental patient of his needed a tooth out, so, he gave the man ether and pulled the tooth.

The TREATY OF FORT JACKSON was signed this day in 1814, ending a war between the U.S. government and the Creek Indians, and giving most of Alabama and part of Georgia to the government.

It's the birthday in Stafford, 1593, of IZAAK WALTON, the English writer best known for The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation, a treatise on the philosophical pleasures of fishing.

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 Jeffrey Harrison 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 »