Apr. 30, 2000


by Philip Bryant

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: April 30, 2000

Poem: " Locomotion," by Philip Bryant, from Sermon on a Perfect Spring Day (New Rivers Press.

On this day in 1844, during a fishing trip near Concord, HENRY DAVID THOREAU and Edward Hoar went on a rowboat excursion up the Sudbury River. They stopped about a mile up the river to cook their catch of fish, and STARTED A FIRE in an old stump to make chowder. The fire quickly went out of control and spread through the neighboring woods, burning 300 acres and causing $2,000 in damages. Many residents never forgave Thoreau for his carelessness. Nor did Thoreau forgive himself, for six years later, he wrote five pages in his journal about the affair.

It's the birthday of American author ANNIE DILLARD, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1945), best known for her most popular book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, for which she won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Dillard says the book is " really a book of theology," and the desire to know and experience God. She's also the author of Ticket for A Prayer Wheel (1974) and Holy The Firm (1977).

It's the birthday of American science fiction writer, LAURENCE VAN COTT NIVEN, born in Los Angeles, California (1938). A prolific writer, Niven's novels speculate about the technologies of the future. He said, " I wait for the scientists' [research] results and then write stories about them...I try to make my stories as technically accurate as possible." Ringworld tells of creating artificial planets that would provide mankind with more room for its expanding population.

It's the birthday of American poet JOHN CROWE RANSOM, born in Pulaski, Tennessee (1888). After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1909 with a Rhodes Scholarship, he studied at Christ Church College, in Oxford, where met Christopher Morley, who introduced him to modern poetry. He eventually returned to Vanderbilt, where he taught English for 23 years, and became a member of an informal seminar of students and teachers opposed to the genteel sentimentality of popular Southern writing - a group known as " The Fugitives".

It's the birthday of American writer and literary confidant, Alice B. Toklas, born in San Francisco, California (1877). At age 30, after years of caring for her mother and male relatives, Alice B. Toklas moved to Paris where she met her life-long partner, Gertrude Stein. She became Stein's personal secretary, typing, editing, and organizing manuscripts, and there is some evidence that she was Stein's co-author for Ada (1908-1912) and A Novel of Thank You (1925). She wrote a volume of memoirs, What is Remembered (1963), and The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, a collection of recipes and stories of her travels. In 1957 she joined the Catholic Church in order to insure an afterlife with Stein.

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