Sep. 4, 1996

Fall Song

by Mary Oliver


Today's Reading: "Fall Song" by Mary Oliver from AMERICAN PRIMITIVE, published by Little, Brown and Company.

It's the opening day in Kalamazoo and Paw Paw, Michigan, of the Michigan Wine and Harvest Festival.

It's the 215th birthday, in California, of what the Spaniards called "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Portiuncular," or Los Angeles.

In 1957 on this day, Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called out the National Guard to turn away 9 black students trying to enter Little Rock's all-white Central High School.

It's the birthday today of one of the greatest swimmers, Australian, Dawn Fraser (1937).

Food writer Craig Claiborne was born on this day in Sunflower, Mississippi, in 1920.

It's the birthday of novelist Richard Wright, author of NATIVE SON and one of the first black American writers to protest the treatment of blacks. He was born in 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi.

French actor and theorist, Antonin Artuad, was born in Marseille in 1896.

It's the birthday today of children's writer, Beatrix Potter (1893), who sent an illustrated note to five-year-old Noel Moore who was sick with scarlet fever, "I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you the story about four little rabbits, whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter."

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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