Tuesday

Jan. 25, 2000

The Banks o' Doon

by Robert Burns

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: January 25, 2000

Poem: "The Banks o’ Doon" by Robert Burns from the Oxford Book of English Verse published by Oxford University Press.

On this day in 1961, five days after being inaugurated the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy held the first televised presidential press conference, broadcast live from the White House. He answered 31 questions in 38 minutes.

In 1959 on this date, an American Airlines Boeing 707 jet made the first scheduled transcontinental flight in the United States, flying nonstop from Los Angeles to New York.

It’s the birthday of novelist Gloria Naylor, born in New York City (1950). After graduating from Brooklyn College, she earned a Masters from Yale in 1983. By her early thirties, she had already published her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), which sprang from her wish to show the diversity of the black experience beyond what black or white critics had come to demand.

It’s the birthday of Virginia Woolf (Adeline Virginia Stephen) born in London (1882)—a major voice of ‘Modernism.’ After two fairly conventional novels, she began experimenting with time—first as a series of moments, then a flow of years, then a flow of centuries. Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) influenced many other novelists with their impressionistic style and stream-of-consciousness technique. As leaders of the Bloomsbury Group, she and her husband, Leonard Woolf, founded the Hogarth Press—partly as therapy for attacks of acute mental stress. She battled decades of depression before drowning herself, at 49, in the River Ouse, near her Sussex home in Rodmell, shortly after completing her novel Between the Acts (1941).

It’s the birthday of poet Robert Burns, born in Alloway, Scotland (1759)—the oldest of seven children. Called the ‘ploughman poet’ for his rustic origins and lack of schooling, in his 37 years Burns managed a fierce amount of both work and carousing.

It’s the birthday of physicist, chemist, and philosopher Rober t Boyle, born in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland (1627)—who gave us ‘Boyle’s Law,’ stating that the volume of a gas varies inversely with pressure. He was one of the first to attack Aristotle’s theory of all matter being made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—proposing, instead, a scheme of motion and organization of primary particles, which, by joining in different ways, produced what he called ‘corpuscles.’

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 »