Jun. 10, 2007
A Girl Playing in a Sandbox
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Poem: "A Girl Playing in a Sandbox" by David Wagoner, from The House of Song. © University of Illinois Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
A Girl Playing in a Sandbox
She drops the plastic soldiers, the trucks
And tanks and caissons over the side
Of the sandbox and begins smoothing
The field of battle with her hands and forearms,
Sweeping away the foxholes, trenches, and craters
Where only a moment ago the lost patrols
And panzers had plowed to the four known corners
Of her desert under the leadership
Of boys. She follows her own fingers
With her eyes as if she could see the wind
Retouching the dunes, as if she could hear it
Trembling along the sand, the lovely fragments,
The cracked misshapen incongruously melded
And bedded abrasive multitudes, the ruins
Of mountains, now bringing themselves
More peacefully together around her, obeying
Her slightest gesture and changing everything
They are, for her alone, at her lightest touch.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of Terence Rattigan (books by this author), London (1911), a popular British playwright in the '40s and '50s. He said he wrote for the common theatergoer, whom he called "Aunt Edna."
Terence Rattigan said, " A novelist may lose his readers for a few pages; a playwright never dares lose his audience for a minute."
It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer, James Salter (books by this author), born in New York City (1925). He's the author of The Hunters, The Arm of Flesh, and many Hollywood screenplays as well. James Salter said, "In the richness of language, its grace, breadth, dexterity, lies its power. To speak with clarity, brevity and wit is like holding a lightning rod."
It's the birthday of Saul Bellow (books by this author), born in Quebec, Canada (1915). He grew up in Chicago. He was often sick as a child, and spent his time reading the great classics of literature. Saul Bellow later said, "I came humbly, hat in hand, to literary America. I didn't ask for much; I had a book or two to publish. I didn't expect to make money at it. I saw myself at the tail end of a great glory. I was very moved by the books I had read in school, and I brought an offering to the altar."
His father wasn't happy that Bellow wanted to be a writer. He said, "You write and then you erase. You call that a profession?" His brothers went into more conventional careers and Bellow once said, "All I started out to do was to show up my brothers."
He wrote a couple of novels that didn't do that well. He went to Paris on a Guggenheim fellowship. He hated Paris. The more he hated Paris, the more he loved America and Chicago. It was there he began writing his first big successful book, The Adventures of Augie March.
It's the anniversary of the establishment of A(lcoholics) A(nonymous), (1935) in Akron, Ohio. It was founded by a stockbroker named Bill Wilson and a surgeon, Bob Smith, who found that the best way to keep from drinking was to spend time with other people who were trying to keep from drinking. Between the two of them, they developed the main traditions of AA: anonymity, confession, and mutual support.
Alcoholics Anonymous grew rapidly in the '40s and '50s, but Bill Wilson refused to appear on the cover of Time, wouldn't accept an honorary degree from Yale, because believed in anonymity, and he stuck with it to the end.
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