Tuesday

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.

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 Jeffrey Harrison 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 »