Aug. 17, 1999
When I Am Away From My Children
Poem: "When I Am Away From My Children," by Gregory Djanikian, from About Distance (Carnegie Mellon University Press).
It is the birthday today in Stamford, Connecticut of JOHN HAWKES (1925). A poet and playwright, he is best known for his avant-garde style novels.
The British poet, TED HUGHES, was born on this day in 1930, in West Yorkshire. After Hughes got out of school, he served in the Royal Air Force, on an isolated station in Yorkshire, where he said there was "nothing to do but read and re-read Shakespeare and watch the grass grow." He started writing poetry and went to Cambridge, and it was there that he met the American poet Sylvia Plath at a party one evening. She went home that night and described him in her journal: "That big, dark, hunky boy, the only one there huge enough for me, and whose name I had asked the minute I came into the room." They got married four months later, and Hughes said, "We would write poetry every day. It was all we were interested in, all we ever did. We were like two feet, each one using everything the other did." When she committed suicide in 1963, he stopped writing for several years; later, picked it up again, turning out plays, children's stories, and opera librettos. He was named Britain's poet laureate in 1984. Early last year he came out with a new collection of poems called Birthday Letters, about his relationship with Plath, a collection he'd been working on for about 30 years. He said: "It was in a kind of desperation that I finally published those poems. I had always thought them too inexplicably raw and unguarded, simply too vulnerable. How strange that we have to make these public declarations of our secrets, but we do. If only I had done the equivalent 30 years ago I might have had a more fruitful career certainly a freer psychological life."
It is the birthday today of V.S. NAIPAUL, a novelist born in 1932 to a Hindu family in Trinidad. Naipaul has written many other novels, including, A Turn in the South (1989), The Mystic Masseur (1957), and Guerillas (1975).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®