Jan. 21, 2003
Poem: "Birches," by Robert Frost from The Poetry of Robert Frost (Henry Holt and Co.).
It's the birthday of singer, songwriter Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter (sometimes noted as January 20 or January 29), born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1888. He is known for his versions of "Goodnight Irene" and "Rock Island Line." He was an inmate at Angola Prison in Louisiana when a white man named Alan Lomax arrived, asking to record any songs the prisoners knew. Lomax was traveling across the south making field recordings for the Library of Congress. Lomax helped him obtain a pardon and took him to New York where he was a big hit.
It was on this day, in 1952, that William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross as the editor of The New Yorker Magazine.
It's the birthday of Richard
P. Blackmur, reclusive literary critic, born in Springfield, Massachusetts
(1904). He was expelled from high school in 1918 after a dispute with the headmaster,
and he never completed a formal education. He read the classics at the local
library, but always felt uneasy about his homemade education and did his best
to conceal its shortcomings. He went on to become a leading American literary
critic and taught at Princeton.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®