Jun. 6, 2000


by Maxine Kumin

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: June 6, 2000

Poem: "Appetite," by Maxine Kumin from Selected Poems 1960-1990 (W.W. Norton & Company).

It's the birthday of playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, born in Brooklyn (1954), author of the play Torch Song Trilogy (1981), the story of a drag queen's search for lasting love.

In 1949 on this date, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was published. The novel is set in a future world dominated by three police states, continually at war with each other. Its hero, Winston Smith, is a minor official whose longing for truth and decency leads him to rebel, secretly, against the government.

On this day in 1944, D-Day, the largest amphibious assault ever, took place. In the early morning hours, in rough weather, the Allies made their long-awaited cross-Channel invasion, landing on the beaches of western Normandy. American troops landed at Omaha and Utah beaches; Canadians landed at Juno beach, British troops landed at beaches named Gold and Sword. At least half the Allied casualties came at Omaha Beach, where the Allied air and sea bombardment had been misdirected, striking far inland. 130,000 men had landed from air and sea; 9,000 were killed or wounded.

It's the birthday of poet Maxine Kumin, born in Philadelphia (1925). She began writing in her mid-thirties, when she was married, the mother of 3, living in a Boston suburb, and was, in her words, "acutely miserable." She joined an adult education poetry workshop that included Anne Sexton, with whom Kumin stayed close friends. Her poetry collection Up Country: Poems of New England won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973. She has also published 5 novels for adults and more than 20 books for children.

It's the birthday of novelist Thomas Mann, born in Lübeck, Germany (1875). His first novel was Buddenbrooks (1901). After several novellas, including Death in Venice (1913), Mann wrote The Magic Mountain (1924), for which he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. His other novels include a 4-book cycle on biblical Joseph: The Tales of Jacob (1933), The Young Joseph (1934), Joseph in Egypt (1938), and Joseph the Provider (1943). He considered this extended opus to be his greatest work, an evaluation few critics have shared.

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