Aug. 16, 1999
Poem: "Reunion," by Robert Kinsley, from Endangered Species (Orchises Press).
GOLD WAS DISCOVERED IN ALASKA on this day in 1896. Three men found the gold in a little tributary off the Klondike River named Rabbit Creek. They said it laid "thick between the flaky slabs like cheese sandwiches." The discovery opened up the great Klondike Gold Rush. Discovery Day is celebrated every year in the Yukon.
It's the birthday in Salt Lake City, 1902, of the writer WALLACE THURMAN. He moved to Harlem in 1925, and joined writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston in what later became called the Harlem Renaissance.
It's WILLIAM MAXWELL'S birthday, a novelist and short story writer, born in 1908, in the central Illinois town of Lincoln. His mother died in the worldwide 1918 flu epidemic, and Maxwell moved to Chicago with his family. After college he went to New York, and it was there that he became the editor of the New Yorker. Maxwell said, "I was unsuited for The New Republic because I was politically uninformed. I don't know if I was unsuited to Time, because I got to The New Yorker first, they hired me, and that was that." Maxwell stayed for 40 years (1936-76) and edited John Cheever, Vladimir Nabokov, Mary McCarthy, Eudora Welty, and dozens of others who wrote for the magazine. He also published about 20 books of his own, including: They Came Like Swallows; The Folded Leaf; and So Long, See You Tomorrow.
It's the birthday of the prolific children's author, BEATRICE SCHENK DE REGNIERS (drain-YAY), 1914, Lafayette, Indiana, author of nearly 50 books for kids, including May I Bring a Friend, which won the 1965 Caldecott Award.
Today is the birthday of the writer CHARLES BUKOWSKI (1920). He was born in Germany, the son of a U.S. soldier and a German woman, and grew up in Los Angeles. He once almost drank himself to death, but returned to writing and soon published his first book of poems Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1959). His other titles include Love Is a Dog From Hell (1977), Shakespeare Never Did This (1979), and Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live With Beasts (1965).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®