Saturday

Sep. 11, 1999

For the Young Who Want to

by Marge Piercy

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: September 11, 1999

Poem: "For the Young Who Want To" by Marge Piercy from Circles on the Water, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

It's the birthday in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, 1934, of Canadian writer and novelist, LEON ROOKEM, author of Shakespeare's Dog, the story of Shakespeare's life as told by his dog, Mr. Hooker.

It's the birthday in 1885, Nottinghamshire, England of writer D.H. LAWRENCE, author of Sons and Lovers (1913), Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928) and other books. Lawrence lived in Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka, Australia; and for a short while in Taos, New Mexico, and then in Mexico where his tuberculosis flared up and nearly killed him. He returned to Europe and wrote his best-known book, Lady Chatterley's Lover, the story of Constance Chatterley and her affair with the gamekeeper on her husband's estate, a book that was published first in Italy and France, and only after 30 years in England. Lawrence said, "Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot."

It's the birthday in 1862 of short story writer William Sydney Porter, born in Greensboro, North Carolina, who began writing stories in a Columbus, Ohio penitentiary around the turn of the century under the pen name O. HENRY. He was doing time for embezzling funds from a bank. He made his way in 1902 up to New York and over the next three years turned out a story a week for the New York World; his best known pieces: The Gift of the Magi, The Furnished Room, The Last Leaf — all set in New York. His last years were spent in an alcoholic cloud, but one of his very last stories was his funniest: The Ransom of Red Chief, from 1910.

It's the birthday in Roxburgh, Scotland, 1700 of the poet JAMES THOMSON, famous in particular for one long poem, "The Seasons", that he started when he was 26 years old; the first long nature poem in the English language. The poem was published in four sections, beginning with "Winter," in 1726, and wrapping up in 1730 with Autumn. It presented a new theology for its day: that humans weren't necessarily cut off from God and in need of redemption, but could get closer to God by contemplating the wonders of Creation. Seventy years later, Franz Joseph Haydn made an oratorio out of it, The Seasons.

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 Sharon Olds 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 »