Jun. 30, 2000

Preacher, The

by Louis Jenkins

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: June 30, 2000

Poem: "The Preacher" by Louis Jenkins from The Winter Road (to be published in August by Holy Cow Press).

On this day in 1936, Margaret Mitchellís novel Gone with the Wind was published. Within six months, a million copies had been sold 50,000 in one day alone. It went on to sell more copies than any other novel in American publishing history, with sales passing 12 million by 1965.

On this day in 1960, Alfred Hitchcockís film Psycho had its premiere in New York City. Antohony Perkins played Norman Bates; other stars were Janet Leigh and Vera Miles. Leigh picks the wrong place to spend the night: the Bates Motel, with its 12 cabins, all vacant, and 12 shower stalls.

Itís the birthday of poet, critic, and novelist Czeslaw Milosz, born in Lithuania in the Russian Empire (1911). Among the most respected figures in 20th-century Polish literature, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature (1980) for his descriptions of the devastation of Warsaw and the Holocaust of World War Two. He was active in the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Poland, editing and writing underground material. Later he immigrated to the United States, and joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. He became a naturalized American citizen (1970).

Itís the birthday of suspense novelist Winston (Mawdsley) Graham, born in Victoria Park, Manchester, England (1910). Many of his books are set in the coastal countryside of Cornwall, where he lived as a young man. Grahamís heroes are often amateur sleuths troubled by fears, moral dilemmas, and guilt. One of his best known thrillers is Marnie, a story told from the viewpoint of an unconventional heroine. Also known for his historical fiction, Graham wrote the series on Ross Poldark and his descendants, adapted for television by the BBC (1975).

On this day in 1857, Charles Dickens gave his first public reading—from A Christmas Carol—at the St. Martin Hall in London. He enjoyed demonstrating his oral and dramatic skills during these performances, and gave 471 such readings in his lifetime.

Itís the birthday of author John Gay, born in Barnstaple, Devon, England (1685) best known for The Beggarís Opera (1728), a story of thieves and highwaymen, first produced in London at the Lincolnís Inn Fields Theater. It ran for 62 performances, the longest dramatic run up to that time. When he died at 47, Gay was buried in Westminster Abbey, under a stone that bore one of Gay's own lines: "Life is a jest, and all things show it. I thought so once, and now I know it."

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 »