Sep. 2, 2003


by David Citino

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Hair," by David Citino from The Invention of Secrecy (Ohio State University Press).


One by one the children,
large cartoon eyes shining,
push away from the table,
rise and walk away from us
into their rooms. Doors slam
hard. Loud music, the bass
throbbing deep in our teeth,
dark rooms of the heart.
Oooo Baby...Oooo Baby...
Years pass, time enough
for something grand,
something terrible to happen.
When they come out, our sons
have wild, unearthly voices.
Our daughter has budded, mastered
the art of embarrassment.
She won't look us in the eye.
Oh, Daddy, she says, corners
of her mouth turning down,
Oh, Daddy. And everywhere
there is hair. Such hair.

Literary Notes:

Early in the morning of this day in 1666, a small fire broke out in a baker's shop on Puddling Lane in London. The flames soon spread, and within hours all of London was ablaze. When it was all over The Great Fire of London destroyed more than 80 percent of the city, including over 13,000 houses. The diarist Samuel Pepys watched the fire from across the Thames River, after burying his wine and parmesan cheese to keep them safe from the fire. The Great Fire did provide at least one golden opportunity—the architect Christopher Wren was hired to rebuild the more than 80 churches destroyed by the blaze, including St. Paul's Cathedral.

It's the birthday of novelist Allen Drury, born in Houston, Texas (1918). He worked as an editor for papers in Tulare and Bakersfield, California, before heading out to Washington, D.C., to cover the United States Senate for United Press International. Two decades of experience as a journalist in Washington went into his Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel, Advise and Consent (1959), about political intrigue in the nation's capital. The book was a huge critical and popular success. His later novels include A Shade of Difference (1962), Preserve and Protect (1968), Pentagon (1986) and A Thing of State (1995). He said: "People defend nothing more violently than the pretenses they live by."

It's the birthday of Austrian novelist and journalist Joseph Roth, born in Brody, Ukraine (1894). His most famous novel is Radetsky March (1932), about the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg monarchy. He worked for many years as a journalist in Berlin, and wrote a book of essays The Wandering Jews (1927), about the plight of the embattled European Jews on the verge of extinction. He writes with particular fondness about the Jews of the shtetl, the small Jewish towns of Eastern Europe. He wrote: "The shtetl Jews are not rare visitors of God, they live with him. In their prayers they inveigh against him, they complain at his severity, they go to God to accuse God. There is no other people that lives on such a footing with their god. They are an old people and they have known him a long time!"

It's the birthday of baseball pioneer Albert Goodwill Spalding, born in Byron, Illinois (1850). He was a pitcher for the National League Boston Red Stockings from 1871 to 1875, then became a pitcher and manager of the Chicago White Stockings in 1876. In that same year, he and his brother founded the sporting goods company A.G. Spalding and Brothers.

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