Jun. 7, 1999
Letter From Slough Pond
Poem: "Letter from Slough Pond," by Isabella Gardner, from The Collected Poems of Isabella Gardner (BOA Editions, 1990).
Today is celebrated as Boone Day in Kentucky, to honor the state's most famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone, who is said to have caught his first glimpse of that paradise of virgin woodland on this date in 1769.
It's the birthday of poet and novelist Louise Erdrich, born in Little Falls, Minnesota (1954). She grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her parents taught at a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school. Her short story "The World's Greatest Fisherman" won the 1982 Nelson Algren fiction prize. She based her first novel Love Medicine (1984) on the same storybeginning a novel cycle about Indian families on and near a Chippewa reservation: The Beet Queen (1986), Tracks (1988), The Bingo Palace (1994), and Tales of Burning Love (1996). "My father used to give me a nickel for every story I wrote, and my mother wove strips of construction paper together and stapled them into book covers. So at an early age I felt myself to be a published author earning substantial royalties."
Today is the birthday of Norwegian poet and novelist Kjartan Flogstad, born in Sauda, Norway (1944), who has written under the pen name K. Villum and is best known for his novel Dalen Portland (1977; English title Dollar Road).
It's the birthday of poet Nikki Giovanni, born in Knoxville, Tennessee (1943), author of many poems about the experiences of black women, including the collections Black Judgment (1968), The Women and the Men (1975). She said, "I really hope no white person ever has cause to write about me because they never understand Black love is Black wealth and they'll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy."
Today is the birthday of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, born in Topeka, Kansas (1917), the first black person to receive the Pulitzer Prize, which she got in 1949 for poetry. She's the author of collections such as A Street in Bronzeville (1945), Reckonings (1975), and Winnie (1988).
It's the birthday of Dr. Virginia Apgar, born in Westfield, New Jersey (1909). She developed a test for newborn babiesthe Apgar Scorewhich measures 5 body functions: heart rate, muscle tone, breathing, skin color, reflexes.
It's the birthday of novelist Elizabeth Bowen, born in Dublin, Ireland (1899), author of The Death of the Heart (1938).
It's the birthday of Post-Impressionist painter (Eugene Henri) Paul Gauguin, born in Paris, 1848. In his early twenties he settled in Paris, married, had 5 children, and became a successful stockbroker who painted only on Sundays. But at 35 he abruptly gave up business and family and devoted himself to painting. He met Van Gogh in Arles (1888) and lived the Bohemian life in Paris until 1891, when he left for Tahiti.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®