Jul. 17, 1996


by Jonathan Swift


Today's Reading: " Onyons" by Jonathan Swift from THE BOOK OF IRISH VERSE, published by Galahad Books (1995).

The annual Crab and Clam Bake takes place today in Crisfield, Maryland.

Composer and humorist Peter Schickele, creator of PDQ Bach, was born today in Ames, Iowa in 1935.

Writer James (Amos) Purdy (DON'T CALL ME BY MY RIGHT NAME), was born today in Ohio in 1923.

It's the birthday of poet and literary critic, Donald (Alfred) Davie, born in Barnsley, England in 1922.

Comedienne Phyllis Diller, who made her comedy debut at San Francisco's Purple Onion at the age of 40, was born today in Lima, Ohio in 1917.

Australian novelist Christina (Ellen) Stead, author of THE MAN WHO LOVED CHILDREN, was born today in Sydney, Australia in 1902.

Actor James Cagney (YANKEE DOODLE DANDY) was born on this day in New York City in 1899, the son of an Irish bartender.

Photographer Berenice Abbot, who went to Paris and photographed James Joyce and Janet Flanner, was born today in Springfield, Ohio in 1898.

It's the birthday of lawyer and writer Erle Stanley, creator of Perry Mason, in Malden, Massachusetts in 1889.

Israeli writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon was born on this day in the Ukraine in 1888.

English editor and writer Ernest Percival Rhys, editor of a series of inexpensive editions of world classics called EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY, was born today in London in 1859.

Ephraim Shay, inventor of the Shay type of steam locomotive, was born today in Huron County, Ohio in 1839.

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
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show