May 7, 1997

The Sacred

by Stephen Dunn


Today's Reading:"The Sacred" by Stephen Dunn from BETWEEN ANGELS, published by W.W. Norton and Company (1989).

In 1954 on this day, French troops were defeated by Vietnamese forces at Dien Bien Phy, forcing the French to withdraw from Vietnam.

In 1945 German Field Marshall Alfred Jodl unconditionally surrendered all German forces at a small school house in Rheims, France, effectively ending World War II.

It 's the birthday of Australian novelist and short-story writer Peter Carey (ILLYWHACKER; OSCAR AND LUCINDA), born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, in 1943.

English poet and novelist Jenny Joseph (THE THINKING HEART; THE INLAND SEA) was born on this day in Birmingham, 1932. In "Warning" she wrote "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me"

It's the birthday of inventor of the Polaroid Land Camera, Edwin Herbert Land, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1909.

It's the birthday of actor Gary Cooper, who went to Los Angeles to become a political cartoonist and ended up acting in Hollywood westerns such as HIGH NOON. He was born in Helena, Montana, in 1901.

It's the birthday of poet and statesman Archibald MacLeish, who led the life of an expatriate in Paris where he was part of the literary circle that included Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, and T.S. Eliot. He was born in Glencoe, Illinois, in 1892.

Marcus Loew, who bought and consolidated film studios to create MGM (Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer) was born on this day in New York City, in 1870.

It's the birthday of composer Johannes Brahms, in Hamburg, Germany, in 1833.

Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" premiered on this evening in Vienna in 1824.

It's the birthday of poet Robert Browning in Camberwell, England, 1812. He married poet Elizabeth Barrett when he was 33 and the pair spent most of their life in Italy. It was only after his death in 1861 that he achieved his reputation as one of the great literary figures of his age.

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