Oct. 20, 1999


by Rick Agran

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: October 20, 1999

Poem: "Shivaree" by Rick Agran from Crow Milk, published by Oyster River Press, 1997.

It was on this day in 1944 that General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore the Philippine island of LEYTE (LAY-tee), and proclaimed "I have returned." The Japanese army had driven MacArthur out of the Philippines two years earlier—a personal blow to him as he'd spent the bulk of his military career there. He promised he'd be back. By Christmas, 1944, he had the island secured and inflicted horrific losses on the Japanese army—about 55,000 dead, compared to 3,500 Americans.

It's ROBERT PINSKY's birthday, named the nation's Poet Laureate in 1997, born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1940. Pinsky is the author of collections The Figured Wheel, New and Collected Poems 1965-1995, as well as The Want Bone, and History of My Heart.

It's the birthday of DANIEL NATHAN, born in Brooklyn, 1905, who worked with his cousin Manford Lepofsky as the mystery-writing team ELLERY QUEEN.

It's the birthday of DANIEL OWEN, Flintshire, Wales, 1836, the writer whom the Welsh regard as their national novelist. He was raised in poverty, the son of a coal miner, and had almost no schooling, but after a few years as an apprentice to a tailor he went to college to become a preacher. He immersed himself in literature and when he came back home to earn money, spent more time reading aloud favorite passages of Thackeray and Dickens to the other tailors in the shop than doing his own sewing. Owen began his writing career, in his words "for the common man, not the wise and the learned" and he wrote in plain-spoken Welsh, a language that had become nearly obsolete in 19th-century Britain. Most of the books are based on characters and situations in Owen's parish, and the best known are: The Autobiography of Rhys Lewis; The Trials of Enoc Huws; and Dreflan, Its People and Its Affairs.

It's the birthday of FREDERIC BARTLETT, the British psychologist born in Gloucestershire, 1886, best known for his studies of human memory.

It's the birthday in 1822, Berkshire, England, of the writer and teacher THOMAS HUGHES, best known for the 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days. The book started a whole genre of literature in Victorian England, stories about life at a boys' boarding school.

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