Jun. 24, 2000


by Stephen Dunn

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: June 24, 2000

Poem: "Sister," by Stephen Dunn, from New & Selected Poems 1974-1994 (W.W. Norton & Company).

Itís the birthday of poet Stephen Dunn, born in New York City (1939). After serving in the army, he played semipro basketball, worked as advertising writer, and then became a teacher. Heís best known for his collection Local Time (1986). His most recent collection, Riffs and Reciprocities, came out a year ago (1999).

It's the birthday of novelist Anita Desai, born in Mussoorie, India (1937), a Ďhill stationí village in the foothills of the Himalayas; her father was Bengali, her mother a German Jew. Her novels include Cry, the Peacock (1963), Fire on the Mountain (1977), In Custody, and Journey to Ithaca (1995).

Itís the birthday of American poet John (Anthony) Ciardi, born in Boston (1916) the only son of Italian immigrant parents. He's the author of collections of poetry including Homeward to America (1940). He's also the author of children's books and a translation of Danteís Inferno.

Itís the birthday of avant-garde composer Harry Partch, born in Oakland, California (1901). At 14 he began writing music; 2 years later he started making money by accompanying silent films at movie theaters. He was never well known to the public, largely because his compositions could only be played on his own painstakingly constructed instruments: his 72-string kithara; his boos (marimba-like reeds); his cloud-chamber bowls; and his blowboys, made of bellows, organ pipes and an auto exhaust.

Itís the birthday of humor writer Ambrose (Gwinnett) Bierce, born in Meigs County, Ohio (1842). He fought in the Civil War with the 9th Indiana Infantry and was wounded at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain. He went out to San Francisco where he wrote a column for the San Francisco Examiner. He's best known for his comic work, The Devilís Dictionary (1911), which includes this definition: Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think.

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