Jun. 11, 1999


by John Haag

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: June 11, 1999

Poem: "Homesteader," by John Haag, from Stones Don't Float (Ohio State University Press.

A day observed in Hawaii as Kamehameha Day, honoring King Kamehameha the First, who united the Hawaiian islands into a single kingdom in the 1790s.

It's the birthday of novelist Allan Gurganus, born in Rocky Mount, North Carlina (1947) author of the massive 718 page novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1989).

Today is the 67th birthday of playwright and actor Athol Fugard, born in Middleburg, Cape Province, South Africa (1932). A white playwright, he organized the Serpent Players, a black theater group, and avoided being banned by performing classic plays—Sophocles, Brecht, Sartre—that were not obviously political but carried subversive messages. His own plays, all set in modern South Africa, were harshly criticized by the white regime: The Blood Knot (1960), "Master Harold" and the Boys (1982), and The Captain's Tiger (1997).

It's the birthday of novelist William Styron, born in Newport News, Virginia (1925)—the only child of a family which, on his father's side, had owned slaves. His novels include Set This House on Fire (1960), The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), and Sophie's Choice (1979). On a good day he produces a page and a half of prose, in longhand on a yellow legal pad—not as draft, but as perfect as he can make it.

It's the birthday of short story writer Mary Lavin, born in East Walpole, Massachusetts (1912). When she was 9, her parents returned to Ireland and many of her books are about Irish life, including her first collection, Tales from Bective Bridge (1942), which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

It's the birthday of underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, born near Bordeaux, France (1910)—whose first book, The Silent World, helped popularize oceanography. The book sold over 5 million copies.

Today is the birthday of Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata, born in Osaka (1899). His best known novel is Snow Country (1948); others include The Sound of the Mountain (1952) and A Thousand Cranes (1952). Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author so honored. In 1972 he committed suicide, a year after the suicide of his protege Yukio Mishima.

It's the birthday of poet and dramatist Ben Jonson, born in London (1572), author of many plays such as Every Man in his Humour, performed at the Curtain Theatre (1598), Volpone (1605) and The Alchemist (1610).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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