Nov. 12, 2001

it's all right

by Charles Bukowski

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "it's all right," by Charles Bukowski from the night torn mad with footsteps (Black Sparrow Press).

it's all right

small cheap rooms where you walk
down the hall to the
bathroom can seem romantic to
a young writer.
even the rejection slips are
amusing because you are sure that
you are
one of the best.

but while sitting there
looking across the room
at the portable typer
waiting for you on the table
you are really
in a sense

as you wait for
one more night to arrive to sit and
type Immortal Words—but now you
just sit and think about it
on your first afternoon in a strange city.

looking over at the door you
expect a beautiful woman to walk in.

being young
helps get you through
many senseless and terrible

being old

It was on this day in 1859 that Jules Léotard, a French acrobat, first performed a flying trapeze act at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris. He is known to us today for the leotard, after the tight fitting costume he wore.

It's the birthday of the American non-fiction writer Tracy Kidder, born in New York City (1945). He is known for books about people involved in long-term projects, including documenting the design and fabrication of an early microcomputer in The Soul of a New Machine (1981), which won a Pulitzer Prize, and the process of building a house in House (1985). For his book Among Schoolchildren (1989), Kidder silently observed a fifth grade classroom for an entire school year, sitting at a desk next to the teacher's. In writing his most recent book, Home Town (1999) about Northhampton, Massachusetts, he spent two years riding around the town with a policeman on his beat. Tracy Kidder, who said: "You don't get far with people by judging them, and one of the nice things about my profession is I don't have to."

It's the birthday of the Canadian-born American mystery writer Charlotte MacLeod, born in New Brunswick (1922). She has lived in New England since early childhood, but has retained her Canadian heritage, writing mysteries set in Canada under the name of Alisa Craig, while using her own name for mysteries set in New England.

It's the birthday of the German novelist Hans Warner Richter, born in Bansin on the Baltic Sea (1908). He was a soldier in WWII and was captured by the Americans in Italy and brought to the prisoner-of-war camp at Fort Kearney, near New York City, where he spent the last two years of the war. It was at Fort Kearney that he began his career as a writer, contributing to a German language newspaper for prisoners of war. On returning to Bavaria, he founded a famous literary circle of young German writers known as "Group 47," which first met in September of 1947, but stayed together for many years afterward. He is known for his novel Die Geschlagenen (Beyond Defeat, 1949) which is the first critical account of WWII written by a German soldier.

It's the birthday of the British playwright, screenwriter, and author Ben Travers, born in London (1886). He wrote more than 20 plays, and 30 screenplays in a writing career that spanned 50 years. He capped off his career with a sex farce called Bed Before Yesterday (1975), which ran successfully in London at a time when work he had written 50 years earlier was being revived.

It's the birthday of the American leader in the woman's rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born Elizabeth Cady, in Johnstown, New York (1815). At the first Woman's Rights Convention in Senaca Falls in 1848 she drafted the Declaration of Sentiments.

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