Oct. 6, 2000

Blackberry Eating

by Galway Kinnell

Broadcast date: FRIDAY, 6 October 2000

Poem: "Blackberry Eating," by Galway Kinnell, from Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Company).

Today is celebrated as Ivy Day in the Republic of Ireland. It commemorates the death of Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish statesman, and a symbol of Irish pride and courage. He became a hero to the people for his efforts to win independence from Great Britain. His emblem was sprig of green ivy, traditionally worn on this day. He is the subject of James Joyce's short story, "Ivy Day in the Committee Room."

On this day in 1930, William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying was published, by Cape & Smith. He wrote the book while working as a night watchman in a power station, using an overturned wheelbarrow for a desk. "Before I began, I said, 'I am going to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again.'" As I Lay Dying was his own favorite among his novels. The summer after it was published, he was struggling with a story called "Dark House." Early one evening his wife turned to him as they were having cocktails on their porch, and said, "Bill, does it ever seem to you that the light in August is different from any other time of the year?" He said, "That's it," went into the house, changed the title on the manuscript, then came back out and finished his drink. On this same day in 1932, Light in August was published by Smith & Haas.

On this day in 1921, the organization International PEN was founded by novelist John Galsworthy and writer Catherine Dawson Scott, in London. PEN is an acronym for "poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists." It promotes international intellectual exchange and good will among writers, and defends writers who are being persecuted by their governments.

It's the birthday of anthropologist and writer Thor Heyerdahl, born in Larvik, Norway (1914). Heyerdahl proposed that Polynesia had been settled not by voyagers from the Asian mainland, as prevailing theory held, but from prehistoric South America. To convince his detractors, he raised money to build a boat like those the Indians would have used. He persuaded five friends to come with him, and in April of 1947, a 45-foot balsa-log raft with sails set off from the coast of Peru. One hundred and one days, and 4,300 miles later, it reached an archipelago just south of the Marquesas. Kon-Tiki was the name of the raft, and also the name of the best selling book about the expedition (1950).

It's the birthday of architect and visionary Le Corbusier, born in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland (1887). "You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these you build houses and palaces. That is construction. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: 'This is beautiful.' That is architecture."

It's the birthday of writer Caroline Gordon, born in Todd County, Kentucky (1895). She wrote None Shall Look Back; Aleck Maury, Sportsman, and many other books.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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