Saturday

Sep. 17, 2005

Arts Councils

by Gary Snyder

SATURDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER, 2005
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Arts Councils" by Gary Snyder, from Axe Handles. © Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission.

Arts Councils for Jacques Barzaghi

Because there is no art
There are artists

Because there are no artists
We need money

Because there is no money
We give

Because there is no we
There is art


Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1787 at the State House in Philadelphia, the U.S. Constitution was completed and signed by a majority of delegates. It was written after fewer than 100 working days, and it began with the Preamble, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


It's the birthday of poet William Carlos Williams, born in Rutherford, New Jersey (1883). He got his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1906. He did graduate work in pediatrics at the University of Leipzig. He settled down in Rutherford in 1910 and opened a medical practice. And while carrying on a busy practice in Rutherford, he became one of the great prolific writers. He's the author of novels, essays and plays, collections of stories, an autobiography, and many, many poems, including his famous epic poem Paterson, which came out in 1946.


It's the birthday of the short story writer Frank O'Connor, born in Cork, Ireland (1903). His birth name was Michael O'Donovan. Frank O'Connor said, "I was intended by God to be a painter, but I was very poor and pencil and paper were the cheapest. Music was out for that reason as well. Literature is the poor man's art."

He fought in the Irish Civil War and was imprisoned. He got a job at a library and started writing stories. He made his name with a short story called "Guests of a Nation," about a group of Irish soldiers who become friends with the British soldiers they are holding hostage, only to learn that those British hostages will be murdered. It came out in 1932.

He wrote many books of fiction, many of them banned in Ireland, so he moved to the United States where he published many of his short stories in the New Yorker magazine. His Collected Stories came out in 1981.


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 »