Saturday

Apr. 5, 2003

Ode to Torpor

by Robert Sward

SATURDAY, 5 APRIL 2003
Listen
(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Ode to Torpor," by Robert Sward from Heavenly Sex (Black Moss Press).

Ode to Torpor

Glory be to God for the tiresome and tedious,
Glory be to God for tedium,
for no news about anything,

for newspaper strikes and power outages,
lethargy and downtime.

Postpone and delay. And again,
              postpone and delay.
No place to go. No way to get there.
No reason not to stay.

Glory be to God for inaction,
for not getting things done,
for not getting anything done,

No huffing', no puffin',
just some of that slow and easy,
the woman lackadaisically on top,
the man lackadaisically on top.

Yummy, yummy, take your time,
yummy, yummy, I'll take mine.

Slow and easy,
slow and easy.
Glory be to God, O glory.

O glory be to God.

 

Literary Notes:

It's the birthday of Booker T. Washington, born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia (1856). After he was freed by the Civil War, his family went north to work in the salt-mines of West Virginia. He soon learned to read numbers, and he begged his mother for a book, and she somehow got him a copy of Webster's "blue-back" spelling-book from which he taught himself the alphabet. He educated himself, and also went to school, and in June of 1881, Washington was asked to become the principal of a new training school for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Institute began in a single building with 30 students but through his efforts grew into a modern university. Washington believed that the best interest of black people was to become educated in vocational and industrial skills. In his famous speech given to a racially mixed audience at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895, Washington said: "In all things that are purely social we can be separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." Among his dozen books is his autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), which was translated into many languages. He said, "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem," and "You can't hold a man down without staying down with him," and "I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him."

It's the birthday of the American crime and suspense writer Robert Bloch, born in Chicago (1917). He is known for his frightening characterizations of psychopaths. His best known character is Norman Bates from Psycho, which later was adapted into the famous film by Alfred Hitchcock.

It's the birthday of the children's writer and novelist Richard Peck, born in Decatur, IL (1934). He said, "Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I had been hired to teach them. They taught me that a novel must entertain first before it can be anything else. I learned that there is no such thing as a 'grade reading level'; a young person's 'reading level' and attention span will rise and fall according to his degree of interest. I learned that if you do not have a happy ending for the young, you had better do some fast talking." His first novel, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, was about a teenage pregnancy. He received the Newberry Medal in 2001 for A Year Down Yonder, and the American Library Association's Young Adult Author Achievement Award in 1990.



(Instapaper)

-->

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 Sharon Olds 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 »