Friday

Aug. 9, 2013

How To Tell Your Mother There Will Be No Grandkids in Her Future

by Ira Sukrungruang

       Don't enter conversations
about generations. Use the art
of misdirection. Tell her the rain
is falling. Tell her today
you saw a cardinal,
her favorite bird, and it was
feeding its young seeds.
No. Better not mention
the young. Tell her,
instead, the garden is coming in
thick this spring,
and the tulips have multiplied,
their buds like hands in prayer.
Better yet,
tell her about the work
crying in your briefcase.
Tell her you wish
you had three lives:
one for work, one for your dreams,
and one for her. That one
will have as many Siamese warriors
as she wants, swinging on a tree
as wide as an ocean,
its limbs twisting and turning.
In that life,
they listen, those warriors,
for the sound of her voice.
They wait for her to emerge
from the jeweled temple.

"How To Tell Your Mother There Will Be No Grandkids in Her Future" by Ira Sukrungruang, from In Thailand It Is Night. © University of Tampa Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon officially resigned from the presidency. At 11:35 a.m., his resignation letter was delivered to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Gerald Ford took the oath of office. Then, at 12:05 p.m., Gerald Ford gave his first speech as president of the United States. He was the only president in U.S. history who was never elected president or vice president.

In his inaugural address on this day 39 years ago, Gerald Ford said: "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great republic is a government of laws and not of men.

On this day in 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden; or, Life in the Woods (books by this author). His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson said he saw a "tremble of great expectation" in Thoreau just before publication day. Thoreau's previous book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), sold fewer than 300 copies. On the day he got his 706 unsold copies back from the publisher, he wrote in his diary: "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself ..." Walden didn't do much better. It took five years to sell off the first edition of 2,000 copies, and Thoreau did not live to see a second edition. He managed to arrange a nationwide lecture tour, but only one city made an offer, and so Thoreau kept his lectures to the Concord area. Since then, millions of copies of Walden have been sold.

It's the birthday of poet Philip Larkin (books by this author), born in Coventry, England (1922). He was a librarian for 30 years, and a lifelong stoic. He once said, "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth." As a child he stammered, grew up in a house that friends or relatives never visited, had terrible eyesight and unaffectionate parents. Still, he had plenty of good friends, including Kingsley Amis and classmates from his days at Oxford, a group called "The Seven." They got together and listened to jazz, read their poetry to each other, drank lots of beer, and talked about big philosophical and aesthetic matters.

Larkin was known sometimes as "the hermit of Hull" because of his solitary nature. Hull was the town in England where he spent much of his life, and some summers ago Hull unveiled sculptures of toads, a pet subject of Larkin's. The toads were all around the town as part of an event called Larkin 25, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the poet's death.

Philip Larkin, who said: "I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any. After all, most people are unhappy, don't you think?"

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 »