Nov. 1, 2002

Here and There

by Stephen Dunn

(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Here and There," by Stephen Dunn from New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton).

Here and There

Here and there nightfall
without fanfare
presses down, utterly
expected, not an omen in sight.
Here and there a husband
at the usual time
goes to bed with his wife
and doesn't dream of other women.
Occasionally a terrible sigh
is heard, the kind that is
theatrical, to be ignored.
Or a car backfires
and reminds us of a car
backfiring, not of a gunshot.
Here and there a man says
what he means and people hear him
and are not confused.
Here and there a missing teenage girl
comes home unscarred.
Sometimes dawn just brings another
day, full of minor
pleasures and small complaints.
And when the newspaper arrives
with the world,
people make kindling of it
and sit together while it burns.

Today is All Saints Day. Historically, this day commemorated all the saints and martyrs.

It was on this day in 1967 that the first issue of Rolling Stone hit newsstands. The magazine started in San Francisco and embraced the counterculture during the early 1960s and 1970s. The editor and founder, Jann Wenner said that the key to Rolling Stone's continued success was "Change -- the ability to see it and live with it."

It was on this day in 1604 that Shakespeare's Othello was performed for the first time. Also on this day in 1611, his play The Tempest was performed for the first time.

It's the birthday of Lee Smith, born in Grundy, Virginia (1944). She wrote Fancy Strut (1973), Black Mountain Breakdown (1981), The Devil's Dream (1992), and The Last Girls (2002). As a child, she spent time in her father's store, watching customers through a peep hole in the ceiling. She would study their interactions and voices, which she would later use in her stories. She said, "I discovered a down-home narrative voice that would allow me to write about these people without writing down to them."

It's the birthday of playwright A(lbert) R(amsdell) Gurney, Jr., born in Buffalo, New York (1930). He joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and got his start in writing by creating entertaining sketches to entertain his fellow troops. He produced many plays including The Cocktail Hour and Love Letters.

It's the birthday of the man who coined the phrase, "It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you played the game" sportswriter Grantland Rice, born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1880.

It's the birthday of Yiddish novelist and playwright Sholem Asch, born in Poland in 1880. He lived back and forth between the United States and Europe for most of his life, but eventually settled in Israel in 1956. He said: "Not the power to remember, but its very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence."

It's the birthday of the novelist Stephen Crane, born in Newark, New Jersey in 1871. He was just twenty-two when he wrote his first novel, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1893) and just twenty-four when he wrote his famous book The Red Badge of Courage (1895).

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