Jan. 22, 2000

Snow in the Suburbs

by Thomas Hardy

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: January 22, 2000

Poem: "Snow in the Suburbs" by Thomas Hardy.

Today is the feast day of St. Vincent, patron saint of wine growers. The weather legend has it that if there is bright sun today, you'll get a good wine crop in the coming season.

It's the birthday of poet Howard Moss, born in New York City (1922). His collections include The Wound and the Weather (1946) and Buried City (1975); his Selected Poems (1971) won the National Book Award. He served as poetry editor at The New Yorker for nearly 40 years, showcasing the work of Sylvia Plath, Richard Wilbur, Elizabeth Bishop, and many others.

It's the birthday of choreographer George Balanchine (Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze), born in St. Petersburg, Russia (1904)—who said audiences should "see the music and hear the dancing." The 200 ballets he staged for the New York City Ballet include "Serenade," "The Four Temperaments," "Orpheus," and many works to the music of Stravinsky. "Some people think you have to cry to have emotions. Suppose you don't—then people believe you're cold and have no heart. Some people are hot, some cold. Which is better? I prefer cold. I have never cried at a ballet. I never cry anytime."

It's the birthday of pioneer moviemaker D(avid) W(ark) Griffith, born in Floydsfork, Kentucky (1875). The son of a Confederate colonel, he grew up poor, and dropped out of school to work in a bookstore. There he met actors and was drawn into theater, which led to film work. He made over 400 silent films for the Biograph company—one-reelers, each 12 minutes long. Among his many innovations were the close-up, the scenic long shot, cross-cutting, and fade-outs. His major films were Birth of a Nation (1915), Intolerance (1916), and Broken Blossoms (1919).

It's the birthday of playwright August (Johan) Strindberg, born in Stockholm (1849). His plays include Miss Julie (1888) and The Ghost Sonata (1907).

It's the birthday of romantic poet George Gordon, the 6th Lord Byron of Rochdale, born in London (1788). His poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" (1812) made him famous.

It's the birthday of physicist Andre-Marie Ampere, born in Lyon, France (1775)—who mastered all the mathematics then known to Western man by the age of 12. He developed the first instrument for measuring electricity; the ampere unit of electrical current was named for him.

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 »