Oct. 12, 2000

Poetry Reading

by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan

Broadcast date: THURSDAY, 12 October 2000

Poem: "Poetry Reading," by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, from On Lonely Mountain (Louisiana State University Press).

It's the birthday of operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, born in Modena, Italy (1935). After spending three years as a math teacher, Pavarotti resumed his voice studies, and in 1961 won the grand prize in the prestigious Concorso International. This led to his debut as Rudolfo in La Bohème in Vienna in 1963. He made his American debut two years later opposite Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor. He became known as "The King of the High C," for his effortless mastery of nine high Cs in an aria in Donizetti's opera The Daughter of the Regiment.

It's the birthday of comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, born in St. Louis, Missouri (1932). In the 1960's, Gregory became famous both as a civil rights activist and as a night club performer who used humor to explore many of the explosive social and racial issues of the day. After one of his many arrests for participation in civil rights protests, Gregory was beaten by police in a Chicago jail. He was able to joke: "I wouldn't mind paying my income tax if I knew it was going to a friendly country."

It's the birthday of African-American novelist and playwright Alice Childress, born in Charleston, South Carolina (1916). She wrote, directed, and starred in her first play, Florence, in 1949. In 1965, she wrote The Wedding Band, an interracial love story which failed to find a producer until 1979, when it was presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival. In 1973, she published A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich, the story of a 13-year old heroin addict.

It's the birthday of English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, born at Down Ampney, in Gloucestershire (1872), who devoted himself to collecting and arranging English folk songs.

On this day in 1492, at about two o'clock in the morning, Roderigo de Triana, the lookout on the Pinta, called out "¡Tierra, tierra!" Land, land! He had seen the white cliffs of a small island in what is now the Bahamas, which Christopher Columbus called San Salvador. The first Columbus Day was celebrated three hundred years later, on October 12, 1792, with a parade in New York City.

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  • “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
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