Monday

Apr. 26, 2010

iPoem

by George Bilgere

Someone's taken a bite
from my laptop's glowing apple,
the damaged fruit of our disobedience,
of which we must constantly be reminded.

There's the fatal crescent,
the dark smile
of Eve, who never dreamed of a laptop,
who, in fact, didn't even have clothes,
or anything else for that matter,

which was probably the nicest thing
about the Garden, I'm thinking,
as I sit here in the café
with my expensive computer,
afraid to get up even for a minute
in order to go to the bathroom
because someone might steal it

in this fallen world she invented
with a single bite
of an apple nobody, and I mean
nobody,
was going to tell her not to eat.

"iPoem" by George Bilgere. © George Bilgere Reprinted with permission of the author. (buy now)

It's the week of May Day, a time to celebrate spring.

On this day in 1922, writer E.B. White wrote to his mother from Columbus, Ohio. He and a friend were on a road trip to Seattle, and he was writing to congratulate his parents on their wedding anniversary. He said: "Spring has arrived in Ohio. This is a flat state where red pigs graze in bright green fields and where farms are neat and prosperous — not like New York farms. We roll along through dozens of villages and cities whose names we never heard. […] Sheep come drifting up long green lawns where poplars throw interminable shadows, come drifting up and stand like statues beneath white plum blossoms, while far down the land and off in the fields a little Ford tractor moves like a snail across the furrows. Lilacs are in full bloom and the lavender ironwood blossoms are coloring all the roads."

On this day in 1934, two weeks after the publication of his novel Tender is the Night,novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald (books by this author) wrote a letter to his wife, Zelda, who was institutionalized for schizophrenia. He wrote to her:

"The chances that the spring, that's for everyone, like in the popular songs, may belong to us too — the chances are pretty bright at this time because as usual, I can carry most of contemporary literary opinion, liquidated, in the hollow of my hand—and when I do, I see the swan floating on it and — I find it to be you and you only. […] The good things and the first years together, and the good months that we had two years ago in Montgomery will stay with me forever, and you should feel like I do that they can be renewed, if not in a new spring, then in a new summer. I love you my darling, my darling."

It's the birthday of novelist Bernard Malamud, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York (1914). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia, and they struggled to survive on the income from a tiny grocery store. He fell in love with movies when he was a kid, especially Charlie Chaplin movies, and found that he enjoyed retelling the plots of those movies to his classmates. He wanted to write, but he graduated from college in the middle of the Depression, and he was struggling just to earn enough money to eat and pay the rent. In 1940, he got a job as a clerk in the U.S. Census Bureau. He spent mornings checking drainage ditch statistics, but as soon as that work was done he would crouch over his desk and write short stories on company time.

Having discovered what he wanted to write about, Malamud decided to find a job that would give him more time for writing. So he applied for a position teaching freshman composition at Oregon State College. And it was there, thousands of miles away from his hometown in Brooklyn, that Malamud began to write stories mixing Jewish mysticism with his memories of people from his old neighborhood. They would eventually become the stories in his first collection, The Magic Barrel (1958).

It's the birthday of architect and writer Frederick Law Olmsted, (books by this author) born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1822. He is known as the founder of American landscape architecture and designer of New York's Central Park.

It's the birthday of wildlife artist John James Audubon, born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) (1785). He was raised in France, and when he was 18 he took off for America, under a false passport, to escape being drafted into Napoleon's army. He ended up at a rural estate not far from Philadelphia, and spent his days bird-watching, fishing, hunting, drawing, and making music.

He decided he would create a portfolio of America's avifauna, and that he would produce the most realistic depictions of birds ever made. He and his wife set off down the Mississippi River. He brought along a gun and his art supplies, and his wife kept them from starving by earning money tutoring wealthy families on plantations. An Edinburgh printer was the first to publish his collection, Birds of America. The book, containing 435 images, accounted for every known bird species in America at the time, and it remains one of the most important contributions to the field of ornithology.

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 »