MONDAY, 15 JULY 2002
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Poem: "Things I Learned in Denmark," by Kathryn Kysar from Dark Lake (Loonfeather Press).

Things I Learned in Denmark

         Don't put 20 krona coins in public phones:
         they don't make change.

When eating eel,
place the bones
around the edge of the plate
in a circle, then make a cross
to save yourself from a sailor's death.

         Don't put stamps on postcards.

When opening a bottle-capped cola,
gently rotate the bottle
as you pry the lid off.

         Meat and potatoes sustain the soul.

I do need a walk daily.
I don't need coffee before bed.

         Children in all countries like bears and farts.

It's good to dance with students
to old Beatles tunes while drinking beer.

         Sailors wear yellow rubber raincoats;
         little girls wear red.

Bring wine to everyone's house for dinner.

         Do point to your hometown on the map.

Take naps whenever possible.

         Expect rain.

Today is Saint Swithin's Day. "Saint Swithin's day, if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain. Saint Swithin's day, if thou be fair, for forty days 'twill rain no more." Swithin is now the patron saint of rain - both for and against it.

It's the birthday of journalist, television broadcaster, and writer Arianna Huffington, born in Athens, Greece (1950). While attending England's Cambridge University, she became only the third woman to preside over the Cambridge Union, the school's famous debating society. In 1980 she moved to America, where she met and eventually married Michael Huffington, a Texas multi-millionaire. She continued to write, but also supported her husband's political career. In 1992, he was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives. After only eight months in Congress, he ran for Senator against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, and spent twenty-eight million dollars on his losing campaign. Although Michael Huffington disappeared from public view, his wife went on to become a popular conservative columnist and talk-show personality. In 1995, she published Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom, a satirical novel about President Bill Clinton and his administration. Over the years, however, she has become less and less conservative, no longer believing that government has no place in fixing social ills. She said, "One of the definite changes in my thinking was born of the hard reality I confronted when I discovered how much easier it was raising money for the opera and fashionable museums than for at-risk children. So I came to recognize that the task of overcoming poverty will not be achieved without the raw power of government appropriations." Her latest book was How to Overthrow the Government (2000).

It's the birthday of writer Iris Murdoch, born in Dublin, Ireland (1919), who wrote twenty-six novels over forty years, all of them written out in longhand, twice, and then handed them over to her publisher in plastic bags. She was a perfectionist who never let editors change her text. Her first novel, Under the Net, was published in 1954. She went on to publish many more novels, including A Severed Head (1961), The Black Prince (1973), The Sea, The Sea (Booker Prize winner, 1978), and The Message to the Planet (1989). Iris Murdoch, who said: "We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality."

It's the birthday of painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, born in Leiden, Netherlands (1606). Most of his early works are small, precise studies of Biblical and historical subjects. In 1632, he moved to Amsterdam and began to paint portraits of wealthy middle-class patrons. He became wealthy himself, and purchased a large, heavily-mortgaged house. During his lifetime he created more than six hundred paintings, three hundred etchings, and fourteen hundred drawings. He painted portraits, landscapes, nudes, and scenes of everyday life that gave later generations a vivid portrait of contemporary Amsterdam life. Rembrandt's most famous painting, The Night Watch, was painted in 1642. It was said that the people in the painting paid to be included, and that the people shown in the foreground contributed more than those in the back.

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Poem: "How Lies Grow," by Maxine Chernoff from Leap Year Day: New & Selected Poems (Another Chicago Press).

How Lies Grow

The first time I lied to my baby, I told him that it was his face on the
baby food jar. The second time I lied to my baby, I told him that he
was the best baby in the world, that I hoped he'd never leave me. Of
course I want him to leave me someday. I don't want him to become
one of those fat shadows who live in their mother's houses watching
game shows all day. The third time I lied to my baby I said, "Isn't she
nice?" of the woman who'd caressed him in his carriage. She was old
and ugly and had a disease. The fourth time I lied to my baby, I told
him the truth, I thought. I told him how he'd have to leave me some-
day or risk becoming a man in a bow tie who eats macaroni on Fri-
days. I told him it was for the best, but then I thought, I want him to
live with me forever. Someday he'll leave me: then what will I do?

It's the birthday of novelist Anita Brookner, born in London, England (1928). Many of her early novels, including the Booker Prize winning Hotel du Lac (1984), were about young women who yearn for romance and fulfillment. Brookner received a Ph.D. in art history and taught the subject at the University of Reading from 1959 to 1964. In 1967, she became the first woman to be named Slade Professor of Art at Cambridge University. She published several works in her field, including The Genius of the Future: Studies in French Art Criticism (1971), and Greuze: The Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth Century Phenomenon (1972). In 1981, she published her first novel, the loosely autobiographical A Start in Life, in which the heroine constantly yearns for "her adventure, the one that was to turn her life into literature."

It's the birthday of writer Kathleen (Thompson) Norris, born in San Francisco, California (1880), who was one of the most successful and popular novelists of her time, selling more than ten million copies of her books. Her stories usually centered around conflicts between the haves and the have-nots, emphasizing what she called "the fearful power of money upon human lives." Some of her titles include The Beloved Woman (1921), The Foolish Virgin (1928), Miss Harriet Townshend (1955), and Through a Glass Darkly (1957). Over fifty years, she wrote eighty-one novels, two autobiographies, a play, dozens of short stories, poems, and magazine articles, and in the 1940s, a soap opera radio serial. She said: "Life is easier than you'd think; all that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable."

It's the birthday of explorer and writer Roald Amundsen, born in Borge, Norway (1872). For hundreds of years, explorers had been looking for a northern water route connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. In 1903, Amundsen and his crew of six became the first men to make a ship voyage through the Northwest Passage. His account of the voyage, North West Passage, was published in 1908. Amundsen was preparing to be the first to reach the North Pole when he heard that Robert E. Peary had beat him to it, so he decided to go south instead. He told no one but his brother, in order to beat the rival expedition of Robert F. Scott. Amundsen, four men, four sleds, and fifty-two dogs reached the South Pole on December Fourteenth, 1911, beating Scott by more than a month.

It's the birthday of religious leader and writer Mary Baker Eddy, born in Bow, New Hampshire (1821). From a young age, she suffered from a spinal ailment and spent much of her life preoccupied by issues of health. In 1862, Baker entered a sanitarium, where she met Phineas P. Quimby, a man who believed in a "science of health" achieved by direct mental healing that had religious overtones. Baker was seemingly cured, but her suffering recurred after Quimby's death. In 1866, she fell on the ice and her suffering increased. She turned to the New Testament and was suddenly healed, which led her to the discover what she later called Christian Science, or the "superiority of spiritual over physical power." In 1875, she set down her principles in a voluminous work called Science and Health, and in 1876 founded the Christian Science Association.

In 1951 on this day, The Catcher in the Rye was published. This novel, which practically defines the coming-of-age genre, written by reclusive author J.D. Salinger, is the story of a sensitive young man, Holden Caulfield, adrift in New York City a few days before Christmas vacation. It has sold millions of copies, and is still one of the most widely-read books in the United States.

In 1945 on this day, the first atomic bomb was exploded at 5:30 a.m., one hundred twenty miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Poem: "The Rules," by Philip Dacey from The Man With Red Suspenders (Milkweed Editions).

The Rules

"Women is not allow in you room; if you burn you bed
you going out; only on Sunday you can sleep all day."
--Sign in Pioneer Inn, Maui, Hawaii

Keep you trouble to yourself.
We no want more than that
We got. We call police if
You money is hot.

If you lonely, go on street
Make good time.
No sit in room for weep
And call her name.

If feel good, keep down
You singing. We got all
Work to do, no time
For happy fooling.

You pay before you sleep.
You no sleep, we keep
You money. If
Don't you like, is tough.

When hot go cold
The water, blow on it
Or do without. Be glad
You got what you got.

Follow rules
Or we go bust you head.
In room no sales
And keep you shoes off bed.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer James Purdy, born in Ohio (1923). His books include Malcolm (1959), Out with the Stars (1976), and On Glory's Course (1984), which won a P.E.N.-Faulkner Award nomination. His books have been categorized as black comedies, usually involving the effects of the American dysfunctional family on its children.

It's the birthday of writer Christina Stead, born in Sydney, Australia (1902), whose best known work, The Man Who Loved Children, was published in 1940 but did not come to the public's attention until 1965. It was the semi-autobiographical story of a family in 1930s, torn apart by the parents' hatred of each other. The book did not sell well, although it became an underground favorite. In 1965, however, poet Randall Jarrell arranged for the book to be reissued, and wrote an introduction that proclaimed the book to be as good as Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, and Remembrance of Things Past. Critics now deemed the book a masterpiece, and many hailed its feminist message.

It's the birthday of photographer Berenice Abbott, born in Springfield, Ohio (1898), best known for her portraits and documentary photographs of American life. She traveled to Europe in 1921 to study art and sculpture, and got a job as a darkroom assistant to the surrealist photographer, Man Ray. She took to the camera herself in 1925, and opened her own portrait studio, where she photographed many of the famous literary and artistic figures of the day, including James Joyce, Peggy Guggenheim, and Jean Cocteau. Her greatest work was her documentation of New York in the 1930s. Throughout the early 1930s, Abbott photographed the architecture, historical buildings, and street life of New York City. The powerful black and white photographs were published in 1939 in a book called Changing New York.

It's the birthday of actor James Cagney, born in New York City, New York (1899). He said: "One shouldn't aspire to stardom - one should aspire to doing the job well."

It's the birthday of writer Erle Stanley Gardner, born in Malden, Massachusetts (1889). He taught himself the law, and passed the bar three years later. At the age of twenty-one, Gardner opened his own law office, where he defended many poor Mexican and Chinese clients, and developed a strong sympathy for those he considered unjustly accused. Gardner began writing stories for pulp magazines, and was quite successful at it. In 1933, Gardner wrote a full-length novel called The Case of the Velvet Claws, which was turned down by several publishers. It was finally bought by a publisher who suggested Gardner take the main character, a brilliant lawyer, and write a series of books about him. That lawyer, Perry Mason, eventually became the star of more than eighty novels, along with his loyal secretary Della Street, the private detective Paul Drake, and the District Attorney, Hamilton Burger. He also wrote fifteen non-fiction books about environmental issues.

In 1841 this day, the English humor magazine Punch was first published. The comic magazine was based on a satirical French daily paper. The magazine did not do well until 1872, when it was taken over by the printing firm of Bradbury and Evans, but continues to abide by its motto, put forth in its very first edition, "Punch hangs the devil." The name of the magazine came from a remark one of its founders made during a planning session: "A humor magazine, like a good punch, needs lemon."

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Poem: "No Longer A Teenager," by Gerald Locklin from The Life Force Poems (Water Row Press).

No Longer A Teenager

my daughter, who turns twenty tomorrow,
has become truly independent.
she doesn't need her father to help her
deal with the bureaucracies of schools,
hmo's, insurance, the dmv.
she is quite capable of handling
landlords, bosses, and auto repair shops.
also boyfriends and roommates.
and her mother.

frankly it's been a big relief.
the teenage years were often stressful.
sometimes, though, i feel a little useless.

but when she drove down from northern California
to visit us for a couple of days,
she came through the door with the

biggest, warmest hug in the world for me.
and when we all went out for lunch,
she said, affecting a little girl's voice,
"i'm going to sit next to my daddy,"
and she did, and slid over close to me
so i could put my arm around her shoulder
until the food arrived.

i've been keeping busy since she's been gone,
mainly with my teaching and writing,
a little travel connected with both,
but i realized now how long it had been
since i had felt deep emotion.

when she left i said, simply,
"i love you,"
and she replied, quietly,
"i love you too."
you know it isn't always easy for
a twenty-year-old to say that;
it isn't always easy for a father.

literature and opera are full of
characters who die for love:
i stay alive for her.

It's the birthday of journalist and writer Hunter S(tockton) Thompson, born in Louisville, Kentucky (1939). Thompson's first exposure to journalism came while he was in the United States Air Force, covering sports for an Army newspaper. After his discharge, he held jobs on a number of small town newspapers, and on a bowling magazine in Puerto Rico. In 1965, he spent a year traveling with the Hell's Angels motorcycle gangs, and wrote of his adventures in Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966). This began Thompson's style of being an outside observer, while at the same time becoming an integral part of the story himself. This same technique was used in his second, and best-known book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972; filmed 1998). Once asked why he was a journalist, Thompson replied, "I would not be anything else, if for no other reason than I'd rather drink with journalists. Another reason I got into journalism, you don't have to get up in the morning."

It's the birthday of poet Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko, born in Zima, Russia (1933). He gained international fame in 1961, when he published his poem Babi Yar (1961), which denounced the Nazi massacre of thirty-four thousand Ukrainian Jews in World War Two, but was also a veiled attack on current Russian anti-Semitism. When Communism collapsed, Yevtushenko was instrumental in getting a monument to the victims of Stalinist repression placed opposite Lubianka, headquarters of the KGB.

It's the birthday of political activist and leader Nelson Mandela, born in Umtata, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa (1918), whose father was chief of the Tembu tribe. Rejecting his hereditary right to follow in his father's footsteps, Mandela decided to study law instead. He attended college, but was expelled after two years for participating in a student strike. He continued his studies by correspondence, and got his law degree in 1942. Two years later, he joined the African National Congress, a civil rights movement fighting against South Africa's apartheid policies. In 1961, all opposition movements, including the ANC, were banned, and Mandela became a fugitive from the law. He spent eighteen months disguised as a laborer, a janitor, and a garage worker, but was finally arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years in prison. The following year, police invaded ANC headquarters, where they discovered large quantities of arms and ammunition. Mandela was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. After twenty-eight years, President F.W. de Klerk released Mandela from prison. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid and to bring about democratic rule in South Africa. Mandela was elected president of that country in 1994, where he served until 1999.

It's the birthday of playwright Clifford Odets, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1906). Odets left school at the age of fifteen to go into radio, and found work as an announcer, actor, and writer. He's best known for his plays Waiting for Lefty, and Golden Boy.

It's the birthday of writer William Makepeace Thackeray, born in Calcutta, India (1811). He's the author of Vanity Fair.

FRIDAY, 19 JULY 2002
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: "Spell for a Poet Getting On," by Lola Haskins from The Rim Benders (Anhinga Press).

Spell for a Poet Getting On

May your hipbones never die.
May you hear the ruckus of mountains
in the Kansas of your age, and when
you go deaf, may you go wildly deaf.

May the neighbors arrive, bringing entire aviaries.
When the last of your hair is gone, may families
lovelier than you can guess colonize
the balds of your head.

May your thumbstick grow leaves.
May the nipples of your breasts drip wine.
And when, leaning into the grass, you watch
the inky sun vanish into the flat page

of the sea, may you join your lawn chair,
each of you content
that nothing is wise forever.

It's the birthday of CIA agent and author Philip Agee, born in Tacoma Park, Florida (1935). Agee joined the Central Intelligence in 1957, and immediately began fulfilling his military obligation with three years in the United States Air Force. From there, he was sent to serve as an agent in South America. After nine years, however, Agee was unhappy with what he saw as going on around him and what he was asked to do. He characterized the CIA as "a covert body of enforcement for American capitalist interests abroad." He wrote two exposes of the CIA, in 1975 (Inside the Company: CIA Diary ) and in 1978 (Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe), and then went to live in Cuba.

It's the birthday of journalist and writer Edgar Snow, born in Kansas City, Missouri (1905). He was one of the first writers to be aware of the Chinese Communists, and he soon realized that Westerners knew practically nothing about them. So he set out to find the Communist stronghold in the caves of Yenan, where he ultimately spent several months with Mao Tse-tung. He wrote about his experiences in the 1937 book, Red Star Over China. In 1970, Snow met with Chou En-lai, who dropped hints to Snow that China might be willing to speak with the United States, saying, "The door is open." That led the way for President Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972.

It's the birthday of artist (Hilaire Germain) Edgar Degas, born in Paris, France (1834). He began by painting historical events, but soon realized he wanted to paint modern subjects. Back in Paris, he painted scenes of the spectators and riders at the racetrack. A bassoonist from the Paris Opera introduced him to the world of the theater, and Degas began the paintings for which he is most famous - studies of ballerinas in various resting poses, rehearsing and dancing. Although he painted mostly in oils, Degas was also a master at pastels and at sculpture.

It's the birthday of inventor and manufacturer Samuel Colt, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1814), who expressed an interest in explosives and firearms from an early age. In 1836, he was issued a patent for a gun with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets. Previously, firearms had to be reloaded after one or two shots. Colt purchased a large plot of land in Hartford, Connecticut and opened a factory there, and began turning out mass-produced firearms with interchangeable parts. By 1856, the company was producing one hundred fifty weapons a day, and Colt became one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country. Colt was a consummate salesman, and was one of the first American manufacturers to utilize such modern concepts as advertising and public relations. He died in 1862, at the age of forty-seven, leaving an estate worth more than fifteen million dollars, an enormous sum for the time that would equal about three hundred million dollars today.

In 1848 on this day, the first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Three hundred people attended. In the Declaration of Sentiments, drafted by organizer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the first public demand for women's suffrage was made. The declaration read in part, "The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her." At the time, women couldn't vote, they couldn't serve on juries, they were barred from most professions, were excluded from higher education, and were represented by their husbands in almost every way.

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Poem: "My Heart Leaps Up," by William Wordsworth.

My Heart Leaps Up

My heart leaps up when I behold
         A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
         Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

It's the birthday of novelist Cormac McCarthy, born in Rhode Island (1933). He was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he went to college, then joined the Air Force and was stationed in Alaska, where he hosted a radio show. Not very much is known about McCarthy. He has never taught, and rarely gives interviews. Before the publication of All the Pretty Horses (1992), none of his other novels had sold more than five thousand copies. He did, however, have a strong, if small, literary following. He wrote his first novel, The Orchard Keeper (1965), while working as an auto mechanic in Chicago. He wrote several more novels, including Child of Dark (1973), Suttree (1979), and Blood Meridian (1985), without making much money from any of them. His ex-wife claims that they lived in total poverty, saying that "someone would call up and offer him two thousand dollars to come speak at a university about his books. And he would tell them that everything he had to say was there on the page. So we would eat beans for another week." Cormac consented to his first interview, for The New York Times, just before All the Pretty Horses was published. The book won the 1992 National Book Award for Fiction. It was the first volume of a trilogy that later included The Crossing (1994), and Cities of the Plain (1998).

It's the birthday of explorer and author Sir Edmund Hillary, born near Auckland, New Zealand (1905). Although he made his living from beekeeping, Hillary began climbing mountains in New Zealand at the age of twenty. He then moved on to the Alps, and in 1951, made his first visit to the Himalayas. In 1953, Hillary joined a British expedition team to climb Mount Everest. All but two of the climbers were forced to turn back because of the high altitudes. Finally, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, were the only two able to reach the summit, twenty-nine thousand twenty-eight feet above sea level. He said: "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

It's the birthday of playwright and theatrical manager Augustin Daly, born in Plymouth, North Carolina (1838), who is considered to be the master of the sensational melodrama of the nineteenth century. He wrote numerous melodramas, including Under the Gaslight (1867), which featured a courtroom drama, and a flight on a pier before the heroine jumps into the river to avoid the villain; A Flash of Lighting (1868), which contained water and fire spectacles; and The Red Scarf (1869), in which the hero was tied to a log and sent to a sawmill. He opened Daly's Theater in New York in 1879, and Daly's Theater in London in 1893. He toured his productions across the United States and England, and established the first theater company to tour Germany and France. By the time of his death in 1899, he had become one of the most influential men on the theatrical scene of his time.

It's the birthday of poet and scholar Francis Petrarch, born in Arezza, Italy (1304). He was regarded as the greatest scholar of his age, was crowned poet laureate in Rome in 1341, and spent his later years as an international celebrity. He is most famous, however, for a series of poems he wrote throughout his life dedicated to a woman named Laura. Scholars are not sure if Laura really existed, but if so she was loved from afar for many years.

In 1969 on this day, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. At 10:56 p.m. eastern daylight time, Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lunar module onto the surface of the moon and said, "That's one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind."

In 1715 on this day, the Riot Act was enacted. During the reign of King George the First of England, opposing mobs began attacking meeting houses. Fearing uprisings, the government issued a law making it a felony if a group of twelve or more people refused to disperse within an hour of being ordered to do so by a magistrate. The problem, of course, was that the magistrate had to read the Act aloud to the mob, and say, "Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumultuous and riotous assemblies. God save the King." This was the origin of the saying, "read him the riot act." The Act remained in force until it was repealed in 1973.

SUNDAY, 21 JULY 2002
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Poem: "It's The Little Towns I Like," by Thomas Lux from New & Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin).

It's The Little Towns I Like

It's the little towns I like,
with their little mills making ratchets
and stanchions, elastic web,
spindles, you
name it. I like them in New England,
America, particularly-providing
bad jobs good enough to live on, to live in
families even: kindergarten,
church suppers, beach umbrellas….The towns
are real, so fragile in their loneliness
a flood could come along
(and floods have) and cut them in two,
in half. There is no mayor,
the town council's not prepared
for this, three of the four policemen
are stranded on their roofs…and it doesn't stop
raining. The mountain
is so thick with water, parts of it just slide
down on the heifers-soggy, suicidal-
in the pastures below. It rains, it rains
in these towns and, because
there's no other way, your father gets in a rowboat
so he can go to work.

It's the birthday of poet, short story writer, and essayist Tess Gallagher, born in Port Angeles, Washington (1943). Her first volume of poetry, Stepping Outside, was published in 1974. Later collections include Instructions to the Double (1976), Moon Crossing Bridge (1992), and My Black Horse (1995). In 1984, she published Willingly, a collection of poems for and about her third husband, author Raymond Carver.

It's the birthday of cartoonist Garretson Beekman "Garry" Trudeau, born in New York City, New York (1948), who is the famous, but media-shy, creator of the Doonesbury comic strip.

It's the birthday of novelist, poet, and teacher John Gardner, born in Batavia, New York (1933). He began writing fiction in 1966, with The Resurrection, but it wasn't until his third novel, Grendel (1971), the retelling of Beowulf from the viewpoint of the monster, that he began to get recognition as a novelist. His other novels include Nickel Mountain (1973), October Light (1976), and Mickelsson's Ghosts (1982). One of his best-known works was published two years after his death - The Art of Fiction, published in 1984, is still today a standard text for many would-be novelists.

It's the birthday of poet (Harold) Hart Crane, born in Garrettsville, Ohio (1899), whose optimistic, lyrical poems were in direct contrast to the depression and destructiveness of his life. His greatest work came in 1930, with a sixty-page poem called The Bridge. It was an attempt to create an epic myth of the entire American experience, past to present.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899). Hemingway began his writing career as a reporter for the Kansas City Star. He tried to enlist in World War One, but was rejected because of a defective eye. He managed, however, to become a driver for the American Red Cross. He was wounded in Italy and hospitalized in Milan, where he fell in love with a Red Cross nurse. In Europe after the war, he spent his time with other expatriates like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, and in 1926 had his first successful novel published. Always one to use his personal experiences as fodder for fiction, The Sun Also Rises (filmed 1957) dealt with a group of aimless expatriates in France and Spain, members of what he called the "lost generation." His next novel was A Farewell to Arms (1929; filmed 1932 and 1957), based on his experiences as a soldier in Italy who falls in love with an English nurse. He wrote about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940; filmed 1944), which many critics consider his finest novel. He said: "I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'"

It's the birthday of communications pioneer Paul Reuter, born Israel Beer Josaphat in Kassel, Germany (1816). In college, Josaphat began studying the new technology of telegraphy, and was determined to find a way to use it to improve communications throughout the world. He worked to establish a news agency. Finally, in 1858, he convinced the London Times to subscribe to his service and print his news dispatches. Soon his agency, known as Reuters, was used by all the English papers. He built a reputation by reporting exclusive stories, and in 1865, was the first news agency to bring the news of President Lincoln's assassination to England and Europe. In 1883, he sent a memo to his agents, letting them know that the news they transmitted should include "fires, explosions, floods, inundations, railway accidents, destructive storms, earthquakes, shipwrecks attended with loss of life, accidents to war vessels and to mail steamers, street riots of a grave character, disturbances arising from strikes, duels between, and suicides of persons of note, social or political, and murders of a sensational or atrocious character."

In 1861 on this day, The Battle of Bull Run took place at Bull Run Creek, about thirty-five miles south of Washington. It was the first major battle of the War Between the States, and the Northern Army was soundly defeated by twenty-two thousand Confederate troops. It is said that the Northern Army was accompanied by hundreds of sigh-seers, including many congressmen, who had come out to witness the battle equipped with basket lunches and bottles of champagne.



  • “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
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