Sunday

Oct. 22, 2000

Meteor

by Gregory Djanikian

Broadcast date: SUNDAY, 22 October 2000

Poem: "Meteor," by Gregory Djanikian, from Years Later (Carnegie Mellon University Press).

It's the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. American spy planes over Cuba showed the Soviet Union installing nuclear missiles and launch sites. In a nationwide television address, President Kennedy announced that Cuba would be placed under what he called a naval "quarantine" until the missiles were removed. One-eighth of America's B-52s went in the air that night, ready to strike, and for a few days the world was on the brink of nuclear war. Then, on October 28, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev withdrew the missiles.

It's the birthday of mystery writer Polly Whitney, born in St.Louis, Missouri (1948). Her first novel Until Death (1994) was nominated for an Agatha Award. Her other novels include Until the End of Time (1995) and Until It Hurts (1997).

It's the birthday of Doris Lessing, the British novelist and short-story writer born in Kermanshah, Persia, now Iran (1919). When she was 5 years old, her father took the family to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), near the border with Mozambique. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing (1950), is a study of white civilization in Africa, the theme of many of her early works. She wrote a semi-autobiographical series of novels, Children of Violence, that traces the life of a woman named Martha Quest from girlhood to middle-age. Her most popular novel is probably The Golden Notebook, published in 1962.

It's the anniversary of the Great Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918, which killed nearly 21 million people worldwide. The disease actually started that spring in China and was spread by the movement of sailors and soldiers fighting the last months of World War One; it was called the Spanish flu because in Spain it spread particularly fast. It was particularly difficult to deal with because no one knew exactly what influenza was, and because of the shortage of doctors following the War. It was on this day that fatalities reached their peak. All told, the flu killed a half-million Americans, 19,000 in New York City alone.

It's the birthday of actress Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest tragedienne of her day, born in Paris, 1844.

It's the birthday of Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt, born at Raiding, Hungary (1811).

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

 









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