Tuesday

Oct. 9, 2007

They値l

by Cheryl Denise

TUESDAY, 9 OCTOBER, 2007
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "They'll" by Cheryl Denise, from I Saw God Dancing. © Dream Seeker Books, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

They'll

take your soul
and put it in a suit,
fit you in boxes
under labels,
make you look like the Joneses.

They'll tell you go a little blonder,
suggest sky-blue
tinted contact lenses,
conceal that birthmark
under your chin.

They'll urge you to have babies
get fulfilled.
They'll say marriage is easy,
flowers from Thornhills
are all you need
to keep it together.

They'll push you to go ahead,
borrow a few more grand,
build a dream house.
Your boys need Nikes,
your girls cheerleading,
and all you need is your job
9 to 5 in the same place.

They'll order you never to cry
in Southern States,
and never, ever dance
in the rain.

They'll repeat all the things
your preschool teacher said
in that squeaky too tight voice.

And when you slowly
let them go,
crack your suit,
ooze your soul
in the sun,
when you run through
the woods with your dog,
read poems to swaying cornfields,
pray in tall red oaks,
they'll whisper
and pretend you're crazy.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of John Lennon, (albums by this musician) born in Liverpool, England (1940), who formed his first rock band in high school, called the Quarrymen. He was performing at a church social in the summer of 1957 when a boy in the audience named Paul McCartney saw him for the first time. McCartney later said he was impressed by how tough Lennon looked on stage, like he was challenging the audience to a fight. In fact, Lennon had gotten into a fight with his aunt earlier in the evening, and he was just glaring at her while he sang. Lennon and McCartney became friends later that night, and they formed the band that became The Beatles.


It's the birthday of the suspense novelist Michael Palmer, (books by this author) born in Springfield, Massachusetts (1942), who never thought he could be a writer, but always had a lot of interests. In college, he took classes in experimental cellular physiology, Russian literature, Near Eastern poetry, and philosophy, and also learned to play a South Indian classical drum. He started reading a lot of suspense novels after he became an emergency room doctor, because they helped him relax, and then, even though he was working 100 hours a week, he wrote his own first novel, The Sisterhood (1982), about a secret society of killer nurses, and it became a best-seller. His most recent book is The Fifth Vial (2007).


It's the birthday of historian Bruce Catton, (books by this author) born in Petoskey, Michigan (1899), who was working as a newspaperman when he stumbled on some regimental histories in a used-book store with information about individual Civil War soldiers. At that time, Civil War historians had focused on the different commanders and their strategies, but nobody had tried to tell the story of the war from the ordinary soldiers' points of view. So Catton gathered as many diaries, letters, and wartime newspapers as he could find and set out to write a trilogy of books about the Army of the Potomac. He had a hard time getting the first two volumes of his history published, because his publishers believed that nobody was interested in Civil War history anymore. But when the third volume, A Stillness at Appomattox, came out in 1953, it won both the Pulitzer Prize for history and the National Book Award. Other historians did not consider Catton a real historian, and he was fine with that, because he wasn't trying to analyze anything, he was just trying to tell the story. He said, "[I'm] not a historian ... I am a reporter."


It's the birthday of Charles R(udolph) Walgreen, owner of the Walgreens drug store chain, born near Galesburg, Illinois (1873). He only became a pharmacist after he lost part of a finger working in a shoe factory and the doctor persuaded him to become a druggist's apprentice. He worked for years to save up and buy his own drug store on Chicago's South Side in 1891.

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 »