Saturday

Mar. 8, 2003

Saturday

by Daniel Hoffman

SATURDAY, 8 MARCH 2003
Listen
(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Saturday," by Daniel Hoffman from Beyond Silence: Selected Shorter Poems 1948-2003 (Louisiana State University Press).

Saturday

An experiment results in the transmutation
        of a fly and a man. When
the old castle of a vampire baron is restored
        the baron returns and goes
on a killing spree. A mad scientist transplants his
        insane assistant's brain in
another human. After a baby sea-monster
        is captured off the coast of
Ireland and placed in a London circus, its angry
        father makes a shambles of
the city. Suffering from exhaustion, a pop singer
        comes to a bee farm for rest
only to find her life endangered by the insane
        beekeeper. A vampire must
prey upon living humans to sustain its own life.
        The life of a young woman
is irrevocably changed when she moves into a
        sinister house. A public
opinion analyst, stumbling on a hillbilly
        family, becomes involved
in murder. A successful songwriter decides to
        pursue the girl of his dreams.

Literary Notes:

It's the birthday of writer John McPhee, born in Princeton, New Jersey (1931). He is the author of many books and a staff writer for many years for The New Yorker magazine. In his book Oranges (1967), about the orange growing business, he wrote, "An orange grown in Florida usually has a thin and tightly fitting skin, and it is also heavy with juice. Californians say that if you want to eat a Florida orange you have to get into a bathtub first. California oranges are light in weight and have thick skins that break easily and come off in hunks. The flesh inside is marvelously sweet, and the segments almost separate themselves. In Florida, it is said that you can run over a California orange with a ten-ton truck and not even wet the pavement."

It's the birthday of chemist Otto Hahn, born in Frankfurt, Germany (1879). In 1944, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the fission of heavy nuclei, which made the atomic bomb possible.

It's the birthday of essayist and children's author Kenneth Grahame, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859), known for his book The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the best-known children's classics in the English language. When he was five years old his mother died of scarlet fever, and Kenneth, delirious and near death from the disease himself, could not understand his mother's failure to be near him. That spring he and his siblings went to live with their grandmother in her big, run-down house on the Thames, and he played freely in the meadow and on the river bank, withdrawing into an imaginary world. When he returned at age forty-six to the rural area where he had lived as a child, and began exploring it with his small son, he found he remembered every detail and association. He developed the idea that children need a "secret kingdom" in their minds where they could go when upset or bored by the rest of the world. Grahame helped steer children's literature away from stories about how children should behave, and just tried to appeal to their imaginations. He wrote his famous book almost by accident. He was working at a bank at the time, and publishing essays on the side. Every night he came home to his son, whom he'd nicknamed Mouse, and told him bedtime stories before bed. The stories were about the adventures of a Badger, a Mole, a Toad, and a Water rat. In May 1907, Grahame's son went with his governess on a holiday, and Grahame continued telling his son bedtime stories in letters. These letters became the first draft of The Wind In the Willows. He said, "There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats… In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do."

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 »