Oct. 26, 1999

Mrs. Kinsey's House of Children

by Gregory Djanikian

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: October 26, 1999

Poem: "Mrs. Kinsey's House of Children" by Gregory Djanikian from About Distance published by Carnegie Mellon University Press.

It's the birthday of British poet Andrew Motion, born in London (1952), the son of a brewer. He graduated with honors from Oxford, and has won many English literary awards, including the Newdigate Prize (1975) for his long poem "Inland", and the Somerset Maugham Award (1987) for his biography The Lamberts, about a talented, self- destructive Australian family. Other poetry collections include Natural Causes (1987—the Dylan Thomas Award) and Love in a Life (1991). In 1993 he published the biography Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life.

It's the birthday of novelist Pat Conroy, born in Atlanta (1945), the first of seven children of a Marine Corps pilot. He and his siblings attended 11 schools in 12 years. His father was overbearing and abusive; his mother had to cover up to protect herself and the children. He was sent to The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina; while earning his B.A. in English there, he wrote a short story about his alcoholic grandmother—"the first crack," he later said, "in the family code of silence." The novels that followed include The Great Santini (1976), The Prince of Tides (1986), and Beach Music (1995). "I was raised by one of the most beautiful, Machiavellian and craftiest women ever to come out of the South, a woman who had a family history she continuously lied about. My mother was the first fiction writer in the family. She made up her history as she went along."

It's the birthday of English playwright John Arden, born in Barnsley, Yorkshire (1930), whose plays—using poetry, open staging, and caricature characters—often do not, at their conclusion, resolve their many social conflicts. First called one of the Angry Young Men of English theater in the 1950s.

It's the birthday of aviatrix Beryl [BURR-uhl] Markham, born in Melton Mowbray, England (1902). At 4 she was taken to Kenya by her divorced father, a retired British Army officer, who bought a farm there. She had less than 4 years of formal education, but as a child she hunted wild boar with local tribesmen, and learned Swahili and several African dialects. In her late twenties, she became a commercial pilot, flying goods, people, and mail across Africa. In 1936 she was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Her 1942 memoir, West With the Night, recalled her historic flight and Kenyan childhood. Ernest Hemingway wrote to Maxwell Perkins that it was a "bloody wonderful" book.

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