Dec. 16, 1999

I Could Not Tell

by Sharon Olds

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: December 16, 1999

Poem: "I Could Not Tell" by Sharon Olds from Satan Says published by U. Pittsburgh Press.

It's writer FRANK DEFORD's birthday, Baltimore, 1938, best known for his sports journalism, but he's also written a half-dozen novels including Casey on the Loose (1989), and Love and Infamy (1993). His best-seller, though, is the 1983 memoir, Alex: The Life of a Child, the story of his young daughter who died of cystic fibrosis in 1980.

It's the birthday in Detroit, 1936, of poet FAYE KICKNOSWAY (kick-NOS-way), who says, "The possibilities of poems are everywhere, especially in the small, forgotten moments. Yawning, hooking the feet together, staring absently, hearing a part of a phrase that connects to nothing, feeling tired, having a toothache—all the small, ignored moments of daily life are charged with poetry."

It's the birthday of poet THEODORE WEISS, Reading, Pennsylvania, 1916, who is best known for his long, book-length poems, two in particular: the 1962 collection Gunsight, that Weiss worked on for nearly 20 years, about a young American soldier wounded in World War II; and Recoveries, from 1982, a poem in which the narrator is an art conservator busy working in a church on a medieval fresco; as he works, he comes eye to eye with a figure in a crowd of people at the center of the painting; the figure starts to speak, and tells him all about the others in the painting including the shepherd and the burning bush, the monks, the animals, and, finally, God.

It's the anniversary of the BOSTON TEA PARTY, 1773, when a group of 60 colonists, protesting tea taxes, dressed up as Mohawk Indians and marched to Griffin's Wharf in Boston, boarded the British ships, Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver, and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard. The Tea Party caused Parliament in London to enact punitive legislation against the colonies, which in turn fueled the Revolution.

It's LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN's birthday in Bonn, Germany, 1770. When he was a teenager, Beethoven visited Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna and played the piano for him; Mozart later wrote to a friend: "I think this one will make a noise in the world." Beethoven moved to Vienna for good in his early 20s to study with Franz Joseph Haydn, the best-known composer of the day. But within a few years he realized he was losing his hearing and thought his composing days were over. In despair he wrote his brothers back in Bonn:

"Men say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, yet how greatly they wrong me. What a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me hears a flute in the distance and I hear nothing."
Shortly after writing this, Beethoven began his 4th symphony, and went on to write four more, plus the great concertos, quartets, and the opera Fidelio.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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