Monday

Jan. 8, 2001

Broadcast date: MONDAY, 8 January 2001

Poem: “The Early Morning,” by Hillaire Belloc.

The Early Morning

The moon on the one hand, the dawn on the other:
The moon is my sister, the dawn is my brother.
The moon on my left hand and the dawn on my right.
My brother, good morning: my sister good night.

It’s the birthday of British physicist Stephen Hawking, born in Oxford, England (1942), who pursues what physicists call a Grand Unified Theory, or a “Theory of Everything.” As Hawking puts it, “My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe.” His most important work in physics has explored the nature of “singularities,” anomalies in the space-time continuum commonly known as “black holes.” In 1988, he published A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, a book that brought his work to a general audience. In the mid-1960s, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and given three months to live. When asked about living with the disease, he told an interviewer that he was “happier now” than before he became ill. “Before, I was very bored with life. I drank a fair bit, I guess; I didn’t do any work . . .When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything that one does have.”

It’s the birthday of English poet Charles Tomlinson, born in Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire (1927), the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, including The Necklace (1955), and American Scenes (1966). In 1979, he collaborated with the Mexican poet Octavio Paz on a bilingual volume of poetry called Air Born/Hijos en Aire, in which each translated the other man’s poems.

It’s the birthday of English novelist Storm Jameson, born in Whitby, Yorkshire (1891). She often set her novels in Yorkshire, and wrote a trilogy of books about a ship-building family called The Triumph of Time (1932). She preferred travel to writing, and once said: “I would infinitely rather write than cook, but I would rather run around the world, looking at it, than write.”

It’s the birthday of American poet and novelist John Neihardt, born near Sharpsburg, Illinois (1881). In 1901 he moved to Nebraska, where he became acquainted with many of the local Omaha Indians. He became fascinated with their culture, and his interviews and research formed the basis of his book, Black Elk Speaks (1932).

It’s the birthday of publisher Frank Doubleday, born in Brooklyn, New York (1862). He started working for Charles Scribner’s Sons at the age of 15, and became editor of their magazine. Then, in 1897, he joined with Samuel S. McClure to found his own house. He published Joseph Conrad, Selma Lagerlöf, Sinclair Lewis, and many other great writers. He’s also known for the terrible thing he did to Theodore Dreiser: after publishing Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie in 1900, he withdrew it almost immediately because he did not approve of it.

It’s the birthday of English novelist Wilkie Collins, born in London (1824), author of Antonina (1850) and other novels, and a lifelong friend of Charles Dickens’.

 It’s the birthday of hymn composer Lowell Mason, born in Medfield, Massachusetts (1792). Between 1818 and 1822, he composed and arranged dozens hymns, including “Nearer My God to Thee,” “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

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 »