MONDAY, 28 AUGUST, 2006
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Poem: "You Must Accept" by Kate Light from Gravity's Dream: New Poems and Sonnets. © West Chester University Poetry Center. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

You Must Accept

You must accept that's who he really is.
You must accept you cannot be his
unless he is yours. No compromise.
He is a canvas on which paint never dries;
a clay that never sets, steel that bends
in a breeze, a melody that when it ends
no one can whistle. He is not who
you thought. He's not. He is a shoe
that walks away: "I will not go where you
want to go." "Why, then, are you a shoe?"
"I'm not. I have the sole of a lover
but don't know what love is." "Discover
it, then." "Will I have to go where you go?"
"Sometimes." "Be patient with you?" "Yes." "Then, no."
You have to hear what he is telling you
and see what he is; how it is killing you.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1968 that riots erupted outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It had already been one of the bloodiest years of the decade. That February, the North Vietnamese launched their devastating "Tet Offensive," which indicated that the Vietnam War was nowhere near over. Then, in April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking widespread riots. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed at his victory party after the California primary.

In the wake of Robert Kennedy's murder, the Democratic Party establishment chose Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as their candidate, but the anti-war faction of the party wanted Senator Eugene McCarthy. Thousands of college students and anti-war activists showed up at the convention to protest the choice of Humphrey and the Democratic Party's support of the war in Vietnam.

For the first two days of the convention, protesters shouted insults at the police and threw rocks and other objects. Then, on this day in 1968, the police responded by charging toward Grant Park where thousands of protestors were gathered, attacking everyone in their path with billy clubs and tear gas.

In his notebook that night, the reporter and historian Theodore White wrote, "The Democrats are finished." Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon that year. Before 1968, the Democrats had won seven of the nine presidential elections since 1932. In the ten presidential elections since 1968, Democrats have won only three.


Today is believed to be the date in 474 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost five hundred years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian.

One of the groups of barbarians responsible for the downfall was the Visigoths, who delivered a stunning defeat to the Romans at Adrianople. The Visigoths were superior warriors because they had invented a horse's saddle with stirrups, which made horses much more maneuverable. Other Germanic tribes began to move into the Roman Empire over the next several decades: the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Franks, the Angles, and the Saxons. Rome was sacked twice, first by Goths in 410 and again by Vandals in 455. By the time the emperor was deposed on this day in 474 A.D., the Roman Empire was in shambles.

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. The most famous theory was one put forth in Edward Gibbon's multivolume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), which argued that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military.

Another theory about the fall of Rome is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it brought about great climatic changes, which ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire.


It's the birthday of Germany's great man of letters, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (books by this author) born in Frankfurt (1749). In his lifetime, he was called "the greatest man the world has ever produced." The founder of German literature, he was also a politician, philosopher, geologist, botanist, anatomist, physicist, and historian of science.

His first novel was The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). He wrote it in three months when he was twenty-five, and it made him famous. Goethe became one of the first writers to be interviewed extensively. Books of "Conversations with Goethe" were extremely popular. To get away from the attention of his success, he accepted a political appointment in Weimar, Germany. At the time it was a small, insignificant town, but Goethe helped make it into one of the artistic capitals of Europe. He spent about fifty years writing his masterpiece, Faust, about a man who sells his soul to the devil but gets into heaven anyway.

Goethe said, "One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."




TUESDAY, 29 AUGUST, 2006
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Poem: "Second Chance" by Louis McKee from Near Occasions of Sin. © Cynic Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Second Chance

In my dream I return
to the place I went
wrong, and given this
chance to change
things, I go on
down the way I went
before. Even in sleep
I know there is only one go—
and it went well
the first time. Where
it didn't- well, it will
be good to see her again.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of British philosopher John Locke, (books by this author) born in Wrington, Somerset, England (1632). He's known for his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1688).


It's the birthday of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, born in Kansas City, Kansas (1920). He helped originate the style of jazz called "bebop." Jazz players used the word "bebop" to sing a flatted fifth, but Parker didn't like to use the word for the way he played. "Let's not call it bebop," he said. "Let's just call it music."


It's the birthday of American filmmaker Preston Sturges, (books by this author) born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1898. He was the first writer to direct his own script, for the movie The Great McGinty (1940).


It was on this day in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near New Orleans. The National Hurricane Center first took notice of the storm on August 23, when it appeared over the Bahamas. At that time, it had 35-mile-per-hour winds. It was named "Tropical Depression Number 12." The following day, it grew into an official tropical storm, with winds of more than 40 miles per hour, and the Hurricane Center changed its name to Katrina.

By Saturday, August 27, the storm had become the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds of up to 175 miles per hour. By Monday, the storm had become less powerful. When it hit the city on this day, it did cause severe wind damage, but the damage was much worse in parts of Mississippi. By the middle of the day on that Monday, television reporters were saying that New Orleans had dodged the bullet.

It was two reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper who got the first tip that there might be a leak in one of the levees. After the storm died down, those two reporters road bikes out to the levee of the 17th Street canal. But they never even made it to the levee. One of the main streets on their route was filled with rushing water, more than seven feet deep, and it was rolling south toward the rest of the city.

It took the Times-Picayune reporters six hours to ride their bikes back to their newsroom, and along the way they saw people beginning to take refuge on the roofs of their houses. The next day, the storm had passed, the weather was beautiful, but the water was still rising. More than 80 percent of the city was eventually flooded, about a hundred and forty square miles. The water rose higher than fourteen feet in some places.

All communication in the city began to break down. The 911 operators had evacuated, and so people calling 911 just reached an answering machine. Eventually there was no power, no phone service, no cell phones. Many of the police officers in the city abandoned their posts and just tried to save themselves. The local prison was evacuated, and several prisoners escaped. National Guard troops didn't arrive until the fourth day of the disaster.

On the second day of the disaster, the reporters at the Time-Picayune evacuated their building. Two hundred and forty employees and some family members piled into all the newspaper delivery trucks available, and they drove out of the city. When they reached dry ground, they split up. One group of volunteers took a delivery truck back to the city to continue reporting on the flood.

The Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss wanted to publish a newspaper for the next day, despite his staff's evacuation from the city. He knew that the Times-Picayune hadn't failed to publish on a single day since the Civil War. They eventually set up a new office in Baton Rouge with help from the Louisiana State University's Manship School of Journalism. For the next few days, the newspaper was only published on the Internet, but it turned out to be an incredibly important source of information for displaced families.

Reporters on the staff continued working and writing even though many of them didn't know what had happened to their homes or even their families. By September 1, the newspaper had begun printing the paper again, and they delivered it free to shelters and hotels around the city. On Friday, September 2, reporters brought copies of the newspaper to the Convention Center, where many people had been living for days. Witnesses said that the people at the Convention Center wept at the sight of their hometown newspaper. The Times-Picayune eventually won two Pulitzer Prizes for its Hurricane Katrina coverage, including a gold medal for meritorious public service.

Dozens of books have already been written about the disaster, including The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley, Breach of Faith by Jed Horn, and Come Hell or High Water by Michael Eric Dyson. But one of the most personal books to come out of the disaster is the collection of columns by the Times-Picayune writer Chris Rose called One Dead in Attic.

Two weeks after the storm, Chris Rose wrote, "I was driving down [the street] and out of nowhere, in total desolation, there was a working stoplight. I would have been less surprised to find a Blockbuster Video on Mars. And the funny thing is, I stopped. I waited for it to turn green, and then I drove slowly on my way. ... Today in New Orleans, a traffic light worked. ... It's a start."




WEDNESDAY, 30 AUGUST, 2006
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Poem: "My Daughter Snorkeling" by Harry Humes from August Evening With Trumpet. © The University of Arkansas Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

My Daughter Snorkeling

One more world
you entered on your own,
adjusting the mask, slipping off
face down through the water,
circling the dock,
breath tube sticking straight up,
a slow progression
over the sunken slime-coated tree,
a bottle, a fishing weight,
shimmer and play of light.
Waves broke softly over you.
A damselfly landed on your hair.
If you went out too far,
this was to be the signal:
two stoneS clicked together underwater
and you would turn back to us,
still easy enough, still dependable.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, (books by this author) born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1943).


It's the birthday of political humorist Molly Ivins, (books by this author) born in Monterey, California (1944).


It's the birthday of journalist John Gunther, born in Chicago, Illinois (1901). He said, "[The United States] is the only country deliberately founded on a good idea."

And, "All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."


It's the birthday of physicist Ernest Rutherford, (books by this author) born in Spring Grove, New Zealand (1871). He was one of the first scientists to study nuclear energy, before scientists actually knew what it was. He discovered that radioactivity is caused by particles breaking apart and releasing pieces of themselves.

He once said, "All science is either physics or stamp collecting."


It was on this day in 1904 that Henry James visited the United States after living for most of his adult life in Europe. James (books by this author) had been born in New York City, but he decided as a young man that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Europe. He often looked down on American culture. He wrote, "I hate American simplicity. I glory in the piling up of complications of every sort. If I could pronounce the name James in any different or more elaborate way, I should be in favor of doing it."

But after twenty-five years of living abroad, and writing novels about Americans abroad, James began to feel nostalgic for his home country. He sailed into New York Harbor on this day in 1904, and he was amazed at how modern the city had become in his absence. When he'd last seen New York, the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge had been the highest points of the city. Since then, the invention of the elevator had made it feasible to construct extraordinarily tall buildings. James wrote, "The multitudinous sky-scrapers [were] like extravagant pins in a cushion already overplanted."

He didn't spend much time in his hometown of Manhattan, but instead took a train up to Boston to see his brother and spent the whole autumn in New England. The autumn color of the trees was one of the things he missed most about America. It was that autumn that Henry James finally became friends with Edith Wharton, who had been trying to meet him for years. She introduced him to the pleasures of the motorcar, and the two took a series of trips around the countryside, wearing goggles and helmets. James was shocked to find that he loved this new invention. From Boston, James traveled all over the United States, going all the way to California, where he fell in love with the Pacific Coast.

James chose to spend his last few weeks in the United States in New York City, and he planned to use that time to gather memories for a possible memoir. But he found that the city was so different from the one he remembered that he almost didn't recognize it. When he went to find the house where he'd grown up, it was gone, having been demolished by the expanding New York University. He remembered a church being built near his house when he was a kid, but that church was gone too. New buildings were being constructed all over the city, and it seemed to James that all the new buildings were uglier than the old buildings.

Those last few weeks soured his whole experience. He began to think of America as a place where all the glorious traditions of the past were being destroyed in favor of the new. And so, even though he'd enjoyed much of his time in the United States, he wrote a book about his trip called The American Scene (1907) that was largely critical of American culture. A few years later, he wrote to his sister-in-law, "Dearest Alice, I could come back to America (could be carried on a stretcher) to die—but never, never to live."




THURSDAY, 31 AUGUST, 2006
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Poem: "Goldfinches" by Mary Oliver from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays. © Beacon Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the teacher who taught that children shouldn't sit still while they learn: Maria Montessori, (books by this author) born in a small village near Ancona, Italy (1870).


It was about 4:00 in the morning on this day in 1888 when a constable on patrol in London's Whitechapel slum found the body of a woman named Mary Ann Nichols near a slaughterhouse. She was the first victim of the most famous murderer in the history of true-crime literature, a man who became known as Jack the Ripper. More books have since been written about Jack the Ripper than all the American presidents combined.


It's the birthday of song lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, born in New York City (1918). He and his partner Frederick Loewe had their first hit in 1947 with Brigadoon. Then in 1952, they were approached about the idea of producing a musical version of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (1913), about a Professor Henry Higgins who teaches a poor cockney girl named Eliza Doolittle to act like an upper-class lady. It had its premiere on Broadway on March 15, 1956 and ran for 2,717 performances, about six and a half years.

In the song "Why Can't the English" Lerner wrote of Eliza Doolittle:

"Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable she ever uttered.
By law she should be taken out and hung,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue."


It's the birthday of the second editor of The New Yorker magazine, William Shawn, born in Chicago, Illinois (1907). He dropped out of college and started working as a reporter for a small newspaper in New Mexico and then began contributing pieces for the "Talk of the Town" section of The New Yorker.

After Harold Ross chose him as managing editor, Shawn began working eighteen-hour days, seven days a week. Up until that point, The New Yorker had been known for its humor and its fiction, but Shawn helped turn it into one of the best non-fiction magazines as well. Shawn edited and published the work of Truman Capote, John McPhee, J.D. Salinger, Pauline Kael, and many others. He was known for his attention to detail, and he read every story three times before it was published in the magazine.

He resisted putting a table of contents in the magazine, because he didn't see why there needed to be some special announcement of what was inside. He also didn't think the magazine should include any photographs. He disliked air conditioning, never rode on an airplane, and avoided automated elevators. He was rarely photographed, he didn't give interviews, and even after he became editor of The New Yorker, he never once gave a speech in public.

When a new publisher purchased The New Yorker in 1987, Shawn was asked to retire because the magazine wasn't profitable enough. One hundred and fifty writers signed a letter of protest, but Shawn resigned. On his last day at the office, he made a short speech to the staff about what had motivated him as an editor over the years. He said, "The controlling emotion was love, and love was the essential word."

Four days before he died in 1992, Shawn had lunch with Lillian Ross, and she showed him a book cover blurb she had written and asked if he would check it. She later wrote of that day, "He took out the mechanical pencil he always carried in his inside jacket pocket, and ... made his characteristically neat proofreading marks on a sentence that said 'the book remains as fresh and unique as ever.' He changed it to read, 'remains unique and as fresh as ever.' 'There are no degrees of uniqueness,' Mr. Shawn said politely."




FRIDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER, 2006
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Poem: "Ticket" by Meg Kearney. Used with permission of the poet. (buy now)

Ticket

I have a ticket in my pocket that will take me from Lynchburg
to New York in nine hours, from the Blue Ridge to Stuy Town,

from blue jays wrangling over sunflower seeds to my alarm
clock and startled pigeons. If I had a daughter I'd take her

with me. She'd sit by the window wearing the blue dress
with the stars and sickle moons, counting houses and cemeteries,

watching the knotted rope of fence posts slip by while I sat
beside her pretending to read, but unable to stop studying

her in disbelief. Her name would tell her that she's beautiful.
Belle. Or something strong, biblical. Sarah. She would tolerate

the blue jay and weep for the pigeon; she would have all the music
she wanted and always the seat by the window. If I had a daughter

she would know who her father is and he would be home writing letters
or playing the banjo, waiting for us, and I would be her mother.

We'd have a dog, a mutt, a stray we took in from the rain one night
in November, the only stray we ever had to take in, one night in our

cabin in the Catskills. It would be impossibly simple: two train tickets;
a man, a dog, waiting; and a girl with her nose pressed to the window.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of one of the most popular pulp fiction writers in American history, Edgar Rice Burroughs, (books by this author) born in Chicago (1875). He had read Darwin's book Descent of Man back in 1899, and he was fascinated by the idea that human beings were related to apes. He began to wonder what might happen if a child from an excessively noble, well-bred family were somehow left in the jungle to be raised by apes. The result was his story "Tarzan of the Apes," which filled an entire issue of All-Story magazine in October of 1912.

He went on to write all kinds of stories, from science fiction to adventure, but Tarzan was his most popular character and one of the most widely recognized fictional characters of all time. When the first Tarzan movie came out in 1918, as a silent film, it was one of the first movies ever to gross more than $1 million. Tarzan was also one of the first fictional characters to become an icon for mass-market merchandise. There were Tarzan bathing suits, Tarzan chewing gum, Tarzan ice cream, even Tarzan bread. There have since been more than forty Tarzan movies, as well as comic strips, radio serials, and TV shows.

For the first half of the twentieth century, Burroughs was the most widely read author in America. His novels have since sold more than 100 million copies.


It was on this day in 1939 that Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. The previous year, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had tried to prevent a war with Germany by allowing Hitler to take control of part of Czechoslovakia. But that compromise only encouraged Hitler to expand his power. He took control of all of Czechoslovakia, and then began to plan an invasion of Poland. He claimed that the only part of Poland he wanted was the city of Danzig, which he said was rightfully a German city.

And so, without making any formal declaration of war, Hitler ordered the invasion on this day in 1939. At the time, Poland had an army of 1.7 million men, and Hitler's invasion force consisted of only 800,000. But Hitler's army was the most advanced in the world. Whereas almost all of World War I had been fought on the ground, in the trenches, at a slow-motion pace, Hitler saw speed as the future of warfare. He began the invasion with dive-bombing planes, equipped with screaming sirens that would terrify the people on the ground. Then he sent in high-speed panzer tanks, which could drive over fences and destroy stone walls and buildings.

The Polish soldiers were completely outmaneuvered. In one of the battles, a group of Polish cavalrymen rode out on horseback with lances and swords to fight the German tanks, and they were slaughtered in minutes. The fighting lasted barely more than a month, and Hitler arrived in Warsaw for his victory parade on October 5, 1939. Fifty thousand Polish soldiers had been killed or wounded and 750,000 had become prisoners of war.

But back in Germany, people were not celebrating. Most Germans remembered the horrors of the First World War, and they didn't want to go through that again. Two days after the invasion began, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. American journalist William Shirer was in Berlin as a correspondent for CBS Radio, and he wrote in his diary that day, "It has been a lovely September day, the sun shining, the air balmy, the sort of day the Berliner loves to spend in the woods or on the lakes nearby. I walked the streets. On the faces of the people astonishment, depression. Stunned."

Back in New York City, the poet W.H. Auden was inspired by the news of war to write what became one of his most famous poems, "September 1, 1939," which begins,

"I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-Second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade."




SATURDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER, 2006
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Poem: "When We Sold the Tent" by Rhina P. Espaillat from Playing at Stillness. © Truman State University Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

When We Sold the Tent

When we sold the tent
we threw in the Grand Canyon
with its shawl of pines,
lap full of cones and chipmunks
and crooked seams of river.

We let them have the
parched white moonscapes of Utah,
and Colorado's
magnificat of flowers
sunbursting hill after hill.

Long gentle stretches
of Wyoming, rain outside
some sad Idaho
town where the children, giddy
with strange places, clowned all night.

Eyes like small veiled moons
circling our single light, sleek
shadows with pawprints,
all went with the outfit; and
youth, a river of campfires.


Literary and Historical Notes:

Early in the morning of this day in 1666, a small fire broke out in a baker's shop on Puddling Lane in London. The flames soon spread, and within hours all of London was ablaze. When it was all over the Great Fire of London destroyed more than 80 percent of the city, including over thirteen thousand houses. The diarist Samuel Pepys watched the fire from across the Thames River, after burying his wine and Parmesan cheese to keep them safe from the fire. He wrote about it in his diary.

After the fire was over, the architect Christopher Wren was hired to rebuild the more than eighty churches destroyed by the blaze, including St. Paul's Cathedral.


It's the birthday of Austrian novelist and journalist Joseph Roth, (books by this author) born in Brody, Ukraine (1894). He's an author who was barely known during his lifetime, but has in the last few years come to be regarded as one of the greatest novelists to come out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

He started out as a journalist just after the end of the First World War, and he began moving back and forth between Berlin and Paris, as well as Russia, Poland, Albania, Italy, and southern France. He covered the riots and assassinations and political uprisings that went on all over Europe during the 1920s and '30s. He rarely had a home in his adult life, and lived in hotels for years on end. He wrote his novels in between newspaper deadlines, while sitting at café counters. He somehow managed to produce sixteen novels in sixteen years.

He had one big hit novel, Job (1930), a modern retelling of the biblical story. Roth was inspired by his small success to try writing a big ambitious book, and the result was his masterpiece, Radetsky March (1932), a historical novel about the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The book had just come out when Hitler came to power in Germany, and Roth had to flee the country. As a result, he lost his publishers, his newspaper employers, and his readers.

Roth spent his last years in Paris, living in poverty and suffering from alcoholism. When he died in 1939, he was largely unknown as a writer. The Nazis had done their best to get rid of all of his books. His last novel had been published in the Netherlands, and the Nazis destroyed the entire first printing of the book just after it had come off the presses.

It's only been in the last few years that all of his work has been translated into English. A translation of The Collected Stories of Joseph Roth came out in 2002.

Joseph Roth said, "We all overestimated the world."


It was on this day in 1945 that Japan formally surrendered to the United States, marking the end of World War II. It was a gray, overcast day. The surrender took place on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, and witnesses later said that from the ship they could see the sunken wrecks of Japanese ships all around the harbor, left over from American bombings.

General MacArthur came aboard at about 9:00 a.m. A few minutes later, the Japanese contingent arrived. A naval chaplain delivered an invocation and a recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played. General MacArthur read some brief remarks, and then the documents were laid out for signing. The whole signing ceremony took about ten minutes, and it was carried out in silence. When it was over, MacArthur said, "Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are now closed." And with that, he walked off the ship, without having ever formally acknowledged the Japanese men who'd just surrendered to him.




SUNDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER, 2006
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Poem: "The Clause" by C.K. Williams from The Singing. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The Clause

This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness,
this wedge of want my mind calls self,
this self which doubts so much and which keeps reaching,
keeps referring, keeps aspiring, longing, towards some state
from which ambiguity would be banished, uncertainty expunged;

this implement my mind and self imagine they might make together,
which would have everything accessible to it,
all our doings and undoings all at once before it,
so it would have at last the right to bless, or blame,
for without everything before you, all at once, how bless, how blame?

this capacity imagination, self and mind conceive might be the "soul,"
which would be able to regard such matters as creation and
     destruction,
origin and extinction, of species, peoples, even families, even mine,
of equal consequence, and might finally solve the quandary
of this thing of being, and this other thing of not;

these layers, these divisions, these meanings or the lack thereof,
these fissures and abysses beside which I stumble, over which I reel:
is the place, the space, they constitute,
which I never satisfactorily experience but from which the fear
I might be torn away appalls me, me, or what might most be me?

Even mine, I say, as if I might ever believe such a thing;
bless and blame, I say, as though I could ever not.
This ramshackle, this unwieldy, this jerry-built assemblage,
this unfelt always felt disarray: is this the sum of me,
is this where I'm meant to end, exactly where I started out?


Literary and Historical Notes:

The U.S. War of Independence officially ended on this day in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The war, which began at Lexington and Concord in the spring of 1775, had more or less been over for two years, since Cornwallis surrendered his army at Yorktown, but the American navy continued harassing the British, and by the time the treaty was signed the American fleet had captured dozens of British ships. The treaty required Britain to recognize the independence of the United States and to cede all lands east of the Mississippi to the U.S.


It's the birthday of writer Sarah Orne Jewett, (books by this author) born in 1849 in South Berwick, Maine, and renowned for her stories about the ships, fishermen, and coastal villages of 19th-century Maine. In her teens she started writing stories about the traditions of Maine village life. Of her twenty books, the best known is the short novel The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), which takes place in the fictitious town of Dunnet.


It's the birthday of the American architect Louis Henry Sullivan (1856), born in Boston. He worked in Chicago in the 1880s and '90s when the city was teeming with immigrants, grain trading, and railroads. Sullivan designed over one hundred buildings for the city, including its early steel-frame skyscrapers. He is remembered for his influential words, "Form follows function."


It's the birthday of American playwright, short-story writer, and essayist Sally Benson, born Sara Mahala Redway Smith in St. Louis (1900). She is best known for her collection of stories, Junior Miss (1941).


It's the birthday of novelist Alison Lurie, born in Chicago, Illinois (1926). Lurie's novels include Imaginary Friends (1967), Real People (1970), Foreign Affairs (1984), and The War Between the Tates (1974).




«

»

  • “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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