Feb. 8, 2001

O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie

by Philip Appleman

THURSDAY, 8 February 2001

Poem: "O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie," by Philip Appleman, from Selected Poems (University of Arkansas).

O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die:
grant me wisdom, will, & wit,
purity, probity, pluck, & grit.
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind,
gimme great abs & a steel-trap mind,
and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice—
these little blessings would suffice
to beget an earthly paradise:
make the bad people good—
and the good people nice;
and before our world goes over the brink,
teach the believers how to think.

It's the birthday of novelist John Grisham, born in Jonesboro, Arkansas (1955). He went to law school at the University of Mississippi, was admitted to the bar, and then was elected to the state legislature. His first novel, A Time to Kill, didn't sell well when it was published in 1989. But when his second novel, The Firm, came out two years later, it was the beginning of his best-selling career.

It's the birthday of poet Philip Appleman, born in Kendallville, Indiana (1926)

It's the birthday of novelist Henry Roth, born in Tysmenitz, in what is now Ukraine (1906). He cane out with his first novel, Call It Sleep, in 1934. Then, except for a few articles and short stories, he wrote nothing for the next forty-four years—one of the most famous cases of writer's block in literary history. Part of his problem was that he was Communist, and felt he should be writing something with a social message. He burned many of his previous manuscripts in an effort to purge his literary past. Roth finally started another novel at the age of 73: a huge work, in which an elderly writer recalls his childhood in New York. It was published in separate volumes under the collective title Mercy of a Rude Stream.

It's the birthday of writer Kate Chopin, born Kate O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri (1850). She's best known for The Awakening (1898), a novel that deals frankly with a young wife and mother's sensuality. Readers were shocked, and the reviews were so harsh that her publisher cancelled publication of her upcoming short story collection, A Vocation and a Voice. It was finally published in 1991.

It's the birthday of novelist Jules Verne, considered the first science-fiction writer, born in Nantes, France (1828). He was a stockbroker, but he would wake up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to get in a few hours of writing before he went down to the stock exchange. His first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1850), sold so well that he quit his job to write full-time. His other books include Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). He foresaw a number of scientific developments, including the submarine, the aqualung, the airplane, television, and space travel.

It's the birthday of Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, born in Lancaster, Ohio (1820). He's known for his "March to the Sea," in which he led his troops to Atlanta, burned the city, and kept on going to Savannah. When the Republicans tried to nominate him for president in 1884, he told the convention, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected." He died in 1891.

It's the birthday of critic and social theorist John Ruskin, born in London (1819). His two most influential works were The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1848), and the first volume of The Stones of Venice (1851-3).

"In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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