Tuesday

May 11, 1999

Berryman

by W. S. Merwin

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: May 11, 1999

Poem: "Berryman," by W. S. Merwin, from Opening the Hand (Atheneum, 1983).

It's the birthday in 1904, Figueras, a town in northeastern Spain, of surrealist painter SALVADOR DALI. His parents had a boy before him, also named Salvador, but he died at the age of two, and Dali once said, "All the eccentricities that I commit, I do because I wish to prove to myself that I am not the dead brother, but the living one."

It's the birthday in rural Sheridan county, in the sandhills of northwestern Nebraska, 1901, of MARI SANDOZ, author of the six-volume Great Plains series. Her parents were Swiss immigrants who settled in Sheridan county in the late 1800s. In the 1920s she began working for the Nebraska state historical society and researching the lives of Native Americans. She wrote the Great Plains series of books that made her famous, a series that included the 1942 biography, Crazy Horse, and the 1954 Buffalo Hunters.

It's the birthday of IRVING BERLIN, the man who wrote "Blue Skies," "God Bless America," "White Christmas," and about 1,500 other songs. He was born Israel Baline in 1888, in the Russian village of Tyumin. He published his first song when he was 19. Because of a printing error, his name appeared on the sheet music as "I. Berlin" and he kept it. He died in 1989 at the age of 101.

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 »