Jun. 5, 2009

Dragonflies at Dawn

by David Allen Sullivan

They couple above this still pool, red rusted male
in front, four wings blurring the light;
butterscotch-colored female anchored to his tail.

They careen into grass stalks,
then explode across vast distances.
The lightness of their bodies, heaviness of my own.

Their ballet singes the air with red wheeling fire
as his abdomen curls back to hers
to fertilize mid-flight—a snake eating its tail.

Now they skitter from safe harbor to safe harbor,
touching down beneath piers of bent grass.
Her tail dimples the pond, dispatching eggs.

I want wings to lift me above these waters of regret.
I want sunlight charged with electricity—
in my eyes, the dew reflects a hundred you's.

"Dragonflies at Dawn" by David Allen Sullivan, from Strong-Armed Angels. © Hummingbird Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1723 that Adam Smith, (books by this author) the economist who invented the idea of free trade, was baptized in Kirkcaldy, Scotland.

His first important book was The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), in which he argued that all people are selfish, but that the combined selfishness of many people benefits everyone. He wrote, "[We are] led by an invisible hand … without knowing it, without intending it, [to] advance the interest of the society." He applied this idea to economics in the book for which he is best remembered, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). That book established many of the most important principles for economists for the next 200 years. He argued that free economies improve themselves without government intervention, and that it is competition that drives economic growth.

It's the birthday of spy novelist Ken Follett, (books by this author) born in Cardiff, Wales (1949), the son of a tax clerk. He started reading Ian Fleming's James Bond novels when he was 11, and when he was an 18-year-old college student in London, his girlfriend became pregnant. They got married, and he stayed home to take care of the infant son, writing his university philosophy papers while the baby slept. His wife supported them working as a bookkeeper.

He and his wife were always short of money, and after his car broke down, he decided to start writing fiction to earn cash. He wrote under the pseudonym Simon Myles and quickly published a thriller novel, The Big Needle (1974), about drug dealers. It didn't sell spectacularly, but he paid for his car repair and quit his job at the tabloid, accepting an editorial position at the place that published his novel. There, he studied what sorts of things made fiction books big best sellers, and after work at night, he would go home and write his own fiction.

But then he had his big breakthrough, in 1978, with Eye of the Needle (1978), a spy novel set during World War II. It only took him three months to write the novel.

In an interview Follett said that he writes at home from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., five days a week, six if he gets "excited." He aims for writing 3,000 "publishable" words a day, and he doesn't rewrite more than once.

It's the birthday of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, (books by this author) born in a village near Granada, Spain (1898). He grew up in a farming area, playing in the dirt of vegetable gardens and orchards. He said: "My oldest childhood memories have the flavor of the earth. The meadows, the fields, have done wonders for me. The wild animals … the livestock, the people living on the land, all these are suggestive in a way that very few people understand. … Shepherds, fields, sky, solitude. … This is poetic memory, and I trust it implicitly."

He had reached his 30th birthday by the time he first traveled outside of Spain. He went to New York. He spoke no English and was in total cultural shock. He went to Cuba, where he was impressed with the mixed alcoholic beverages, then home to Spain just in time for the Spanish Civil War. Soon after he arrived, Franco's militia came to García Lorca's rural home, arrested him and threw him in jail, and a few days later took him to a cemetery and shot him. He was 38 years old. His work was banned by the Franco regime, and the ban stayed in effect for two decades. When an edition of his complete works was released, it had been censored by the government.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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