Sunday

Aug. 1, 1999

From the Wave

by Thom Gunn

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: August 1, 1999

Poem: "From the Wave," by Thom Gunn, from Selected Poems 1950-1975 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

The W.C. HANDY MUSIC FESTIVAL gets underway today in Handy's hometown of Florence, Alabama. Handy is known as "the father of the blues."

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer MADISON SMARTT BELL, born in Nashville, 1957. He wrote All Soul's Rising (1996), about a slave revolt in Haiti.

It's the birthday of writer AMY FRIEDMAN, born in 1952, Cleveland. After college in New York City, she helped direct Hollywood films, then moved to rural Ontario, where she began a column for the Kingston Whig-Standard, took over a sheep farm, and started her novels. She is the author of Kick the Dog and Shoot the Cat, and Bogart's Eyes.

It's the birthday in Brooklyn, 1940, of poet HUGH SEIDMAN.

It's the birthday in Wilmington, Delaware, 1937 of poet WALTER GRIFFIN.

It's the birthday in New York, 1819, of HERMAN MELVILLE, author of Moby Dick and Billy Budd. He shipped out as a cabin boy to support the family after his father died, and put his sea-faring experiences into his first two novels, Typee and Omoo. Melville wrote nearly one sea-novel a year, almost all of which failed. Moby Dick came out in 1851 when Melville was 32 years old. Only in the 1920s, 30 years after Melville's death, did it get any recognition.

It's the birthday in 1770, Caroline County, Virginia, of WILLIAM CLARK, who with Meriwether Lewis in the beginning of the 19th century explored the vast, uncharted territory west of the Mississippi. The Lewis and Clark expedition set out from St. Louis in May of 1804. On his 35th birthday, August 1, 1805, Clark met a group of Indians not far from the Continental Divide. He wrote in his journal: "The Main Chief immediately tied to my hair Six Small pieces of Shells resembling pearl. He is a man of Influence, Sense & easy & reserved manners...Even though they are half-starved, living on berries & roots which they gather in the plains, those people are not beggarly but generous, and only one has asked me for anything."

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 »