Aug. 27, 1996

In Memory

by Katha Pollitt


Today's Reading: "In Memory" by Katha Pollitt from THE MORROW BOOK OF YOUNGER AMERICAN POETS, published by William Morrow and Company.

It's the birthday today of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, born in Yugoslavia in 1910.

Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was born on Woodville, Mississippi, in 1909.

It's the birthday of Lyndon Baines Johnson who was born in Gillespie Country, Texas, in 1908.

Writer C. S. Forester, creator of the character Capt. Horatio Hornblower, was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1899.

It's the birthday of photographer and painter, Man Ray, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1890.

Novelist Theodore Dreiser (SISTER CARRIE) was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1871.

It was on this day in 1859 that Edwin L. Drake struck oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania, establishing the first oil well in the United States.

It's the birthday in 1796 in Hatfield, Massachusetts, of philanthropist Sophia Smith who left her fortune for the establishment of a women's college. Smith College opened in Northhampton, Massachusetts, in 1875.

The first performance of a play in the American Colonies took place on this day in Acomac, Virginia, in 1665. The three actors were arrested for giving a public performance, but were later released without charge.

It's the birthday in 551 B.C. of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who said: "What you do not want done to yourself do not do to others."

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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