Saturday

May 27, 2000

Departures

by Linda Pastan

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: May 27, 2000

Poem: "Departures," by Linda Pastan from Carnival Evening (W.W. Norton & Company).

On this day in 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge opened: two-hundred-thousand people walked across it that day. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Itís the birthday of American poet Linda Pastan, born in New York City (1932). The major themes in her work are marriage, motherhood and her Jewish faith, as well as the natural world and its cycles of change.

Itís the birthday of fiction writer John Barth, born in Cambridge, Maryland (1930). He was originally a jazz drummer but later switched to fiction and became known as "the most cerebral of novelists" for his complex and demanding work. He was born with a twin sister, a fact he claims contributed to his becoming a writer: "In part because I no longer have my twin to be wordless with - since twins share a language before85and beyond speech." His first novel, The Floating Opera (1956) was runner-up for the National Book Award. Lost in the Funhouse was nominated for the same award in 1968, and he finally won it for Chimera in 1973. The publication of Giles Goat-Boy (1966) was a major literary event; although it became a best seller, the reviews were mixed, calling it "brilliant, witty, and damn near unreadable."

Itís the birthday of American mystery writer Tony Hillerman, born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma (1925). He became a newspaperman in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and developed a love for Indian culture. His novels feature Navajo Tribal Police Officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, who use both standard police procedures and their knowledge of tribal customs to solve crimes.

Itís the birthday of novelist Herman Wouk, born in New York City (1915). He started as a gag writer and then wrote scripts for Fred Allen. He joined the U.S. Navy, and later used that experience as background for his novel The Caine Mutiny (1951). It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1952.

Itís the birthday of American dancer Isadora Duncan, born Angela Duncan, in San Francisco (1877), the youngest of four theatrically inclined children. Soon after she was born, her mother and father were divorced, and her family lived in abject poverty. She, her mother, sister, and brother embarked on a cattle boat to London, where she was discovered, dancing in a park, by a woman who introduced her to London society through a series of private salons. She was hailed as a dancer in Paris, Germany, and Austria. She bore two children, but they were both drowned in an accident at the height of her career. The Soviet government offered her a school in Moscow, where she met and married a dashing poet named Sergei Esenin. On a tour through the United States they were attacked as Bolshevist spies, and returned to the Soviet Union broke. Esenin went crazy, deserted her, and committed suicide in 1925. Duncan never performed again. She died in Nice in 1927, when the long scarf she was wearing caught in a wheel of the car in which she was riding. Her autobiography, My Life, appeared the same year.

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 »