Jul. 11, 1996


by Howard Nemerov


Today's Reading: "Poetics" by Howard Nemerov from TRYING CONCLUSIONS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1961-1991, published by University of Chicago Press, 1991.

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band, the nation's oldest professional music group which has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, celebrates its 198th anniversary today.

The Bastille Days Festival opens today in Milwaukee on the streets of East Town.

It's the birthday of the physicist who built the first laser, Theodore Harold Maiman, born in Los Angeles in 1927.

It's the birthday in Stockholm of opera singer, Nicolai Gedda, in 1925.

It's the birthday of actor Yul Brynner, who gave 4,625 performances as the King of Siam on Broadway in THE KING AND I, born in 1920 on Sakhalin Island off Siberia.

It's the birthday of writer E(lwin) B(rooks) White in Mount Vernon, New York in 1899, who wrote in CHARLOTTE'S WEB: "It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything."

It's the birthday of department store owner, John Wanamaker, in Philadelphia, 1838, who held the first white sale in 1878, added the first electric lighting to a department store, the first soda fountain, first elevators, first full-page newspaper ads, and many other innovations.

It was on this day in 1804 that vice president Aaron Burr shot his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.

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
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