Jun. 27, 2000
Poem: "Animals" by Frank OíHara, from The Selected Poems of Frank OíHara (Random House).
Itís the birthday of novelist Alice McDermott, born in Brooklyn, New York, (1953) author of A Bigamistís Daughter (1982), That Night (1987), At Weddings and Wakes (1991), and other novels and stories. She says, "When Iím not writingand I have considered many times trying something elseI canít make sense out of anything. I feel the need to make some sense and find some order, and writing fiction is the only way Iíve found that seems to begin to do that.
Itís the birthday of science fiction writer James P(atrick) Hogan, born in London, England (1941). By 1979 he had written four novels, and would average a science-fiction novel a year thereafter, including Giantsí Star (1981) and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede (1978).
Itís the birthday of poet Lucille (Thelma) Clifton, born in Depew, New York (1936). Her first volume of poetry, Good Times, was cited by the New York Times as one of 1969ís ten best books.
Itís the birthday of poet, playwright and art critic Frank OíHara, born in Baltimore, Maryland (1926). From age 25 until his death a month after he turned 40, he lived in New York City, working for Art News and the Museum of Modern Art, where he was a curator for painting and sculpture exhibitions. He was killed by a car on Fire Island. His collections include A City Winter and Other Poems (1952) and Meditations In An Emergency (1956). He said, "What is happening to me goes into my poems. I donít think my experiences are clarified or made beautiful for anyone else, they are just there in whatever form I can find them."
Itís the birthday of Richard Bissell, born in Dubuque, Iowa (1913). His father owned a pajama factory, and he wrote about it in his novel 7 1/2 Cents (1953). With George Abbott he turned the novel into the Broadway musical The Pajama Game (1954), and won a Tony award. Bissell also wrote several novels about his experiences as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi and other American waterways: A Stretch On The River (1950), The Monongahela (1952), and High Water (1954). He said, "After you have been on the river long enough to get the disease, everything looks different: Chicago is a town 200 miles east of the river. South Dakota is someplace west of Minneiska and of no interest as it hasnít even a mile of Mississippi River in the whole state. Lake Superior is an inferior watery deposit of some kind, northeast from Grey Cloud Landing. And as for St. Louis, Quincy, Davenport, Moline, Rock Island, Dubuque, La Crosse, Winonawhat are they? River towns, of course. Not townsriver towns. And what a difference that makes."
Itís the birthday of poet Vernon P. Watkins, born in Maesteg, Glamorgan, Wales (1906). He was the author of many collections of poems, and, for many years, a close friend of Dylan Thomas.
On this day in 1847, telegraph wires were strung between New York and Boston, enabling citizens of those two cities, for the first time, to communicate electronically with one another, using short and long signals tapped out over the wire.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®