Apr. 5, 1999

Her Door

by Mary Leader

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: April 5, 1999

Poem: "Her Door," by Mary Leader, from Red Signature (Graywolf Press, 1997).

It's the birthday in Philadelphia, 1893, of DAVID BURPEE, founder of the W. Atlee Burpee Company, the world's largest mail-order seed company.

It was on this day in 1793 that GEORGE WASHINGTON approved plans for new public buildings and roads in the new American capital city.

It's the birthday of the British poet ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, born in London 1837. At Oxford in the 1850s he was part of the circle of writers and artists known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. He was known in his day for writing shocking hedonistic poetry celebrating the pleasures of the flesh, including his collection Poems and Ballads (1866).

It's the wedding anniversary of Indian princess, POCAHONTAS, and the English tobacco grower, JOHN ROLFE, wed in 1614 near Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas was about 19 years old and already had been serving for several years as a go-between for the Indians in the James River area, and the new white settlers. Rolfe was 29 and had come from England four years earlier and made a name for himself developing the strain of tobacco that became Virginia's staple crop.

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 »