Apr. 22, 2000
Poem: "Nostos," by Louise Gluck, from Meadowlands (HarperCollins Press).
Today is EARTH DAY, celebrated all around the world. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, coinciding with Arbor Day that year.
It's the birthday of poet LOUISE GLUCK, born in New York City (1942). She goes for years without writing anything, then writes many poems in a concentrated period, with an idea in mind for a book with a unified tone. Her book Wild Iris (1992) won the Pulitzer Prize She says, "I think people are mistaken if they believe the best way to write great poems is to do nothing but live in art around the clock. You have to have some experience in the world. If you're a gardener, or a musician, or a diplomat, or a businessperson, you'll have a vocabulary on which to draw, and knowledge that's specialized and detailed."
It's the birthday of novelist and essayist JAMES NORMAN HALL, born in Colfax, Iowa (1887). He went to fight in WWI with the French Foreign Legion, where he met a man named Charles Nordhoff. After the war, the two of them went to Tahiti, found wives there, and wrote books together. Their most famous book was Mutiny on the Bounty (1932).
It's the birthday of English novelist HENRY FIELDING, born in Somerset, England (1707). Henry's mother died when he was 10; he didnít like his stepmother, and it was not a happy household. Henry went to London when he was 17, and began living the life of a rake. He drank, womanized, wrote satires for the stage, and led a boisterous romantic life that included heiresses and even an attempted kidnapping. He worked as a playwright, a theatre manager, a newspaperman, a pamphleteer and eventually a justice of the peace and a magistrate. As he got older, he got sicker and sicker with asthma and gout. A daughter died, and then his wife, and he was heartbroken but he bounced back, marrying his wife's maid, who was six months pregnant. They had five children together. Henry Fielding is mostly remembered for the exuberant novels he wrote, especially The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (1749), a novel full of delicious characters, high spirits and humor, and just about the only novel still read from that time period. Henry Fielding died at the age of 47 in Lisbon, where he had gone in the hopes that the climate would restore his health.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®