Friday

Oct. 16, 1998

What the Plants Say

by Tom Hennen

FRIDAY 10/16

Today's Reading: "What the Plants Say" by Tom Hennen from CRAWLING OUT THE WINDOW, published by Black Hat Press.

The NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR opens up today and runs through the 25th. And several fall harvest festivals start: The CRANBERRY WEEKEND on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.

It was on this day in 1978 that the college of cardinals elected KAROL CARDINAL WOJTYLA, from Poland, the first non-Italian Pope since 1523. Pope John Paul is the longest-serving pope chosen this century, and one of only 12 in the history of the Church with a papacy lasting at least two decades. He's scheduled to travel to Mexico and St. Louis in January next year.

It's the birthday of KATHLEEN WINSOR, 1919, Olivia, Minnesota, who moved out to California and got a job as a receptionist for the Oakland Tribune, and wrote one famous book, Forever Amber, the story of the 17th-century beauty Amber St. Claire and her lovers. It came out in 1944 when Winsor was just 25 years old and its steamier passages caused a national scandal: Boston libraries banned it as obscene and offensive, which, of course, helped sales: within a month it'd gone into its second printing, and a year later its 12th, and movie rights fetched a higher price than even those for Gone with the Wind.

It's playwright EUGENE O'NEILL's birthday, in 1888, born in a New York hotel room on Broadway, and whose plays Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, Strange Interlude, and Long Day's Journey into Night won O'Neill four Pulitzer Prizes. He also wrote The Iceman Cometh, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. He worked for years as a sailor, collecting what he called "life experiences" onboard ships, and ashore in South America and Europe. When he settled down around 1920, he made a name for himself as a prolific playwright: between 1920 and 1943 he completed 20 long plays — several of them double and triple length.

It's the anniversary of JOHN BROWN's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, where he and 22 men seized the Wagner House Hotel, the federal arsenal, the town firehouse, and about 30 citizens. Brown was 60 years old and a white man; his aim: to free the slaves and create an independent Negro republic. The whole thing was a disaster. Two days later a squad of Marines under Robert E. Lee battered down the firehouse door and captured Brown and his men, six of whom, including Brown, were hanged a few weeks later.

The first operation with the patient under ANESTHESIA was performed on this day in Boston, 1846. It took place at Massachusetts General Hospital, the ether administered by Dr. William Morton, a dentist, while surgeon Dr. John Warren removed a tumor from a young man's jaw.

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 Sharon Olds 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 »