May 16, 2005

Not Naked on the Bed

by Timothy Young

MONDAY, 16 MAY, 2005
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Not Naked on the Bed" by Timothy Young from Building in Deeper Water © The Thousand Press. Reprinted with permission.

Not Naked on the Bed

Your beauty, nude
not naked on the bed,
is far more a gift
than I ever expected.
I watch languor recline
in your wise grey eyes
while slate hummingbirds
carved as earrings
dangle from golden hooks.
I quiver in your breath
and the ceiling fan halts
in that instant.
We look at one another
with both eyes open and close.
An intimate wind,
the cause of auroras,
moves north and south,
east and west,
then we swim
into one another.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day in 1929, the first Academy Awards were handed out during a banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Sound was new to the movies in 1929, and it was a musical that won the award for best picture that year: Broadway Melody, which popularized the song "Give My Regards to Broadway."

It's the birthday of bandleader (Woodrow Charles) Woody Herman, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1913). He started out in vaudeville as a child, billed as "The Boy Wonder of the Clarinet." He cut his first record when he was sixteen, moved to California, and joined the Isham Jones band in 1934. When that band broke up in 1936, he got some of its alumni together to form a new ensemble, which he called "The Band That Plays the Blues." The band eventually became known as "The Thundering Herd."

It's the birthday of broadcaster and writer Louis Studs Terkel, born in the Bronx, New York (1912). He moved with his family to Chicago when he was twelve, and throughout his career he was associated with that city as a broadcaster on radio station WFMT. His first program on the station aired in 1945, and in 1958 he launched the "Studs Terkel Almanac." The flair for interviewing that he demonstrated on the air translated into a series of successful books of oral history. They include Division Street: America (1967), Hard Times (1970), Working (1974), and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It (1995). He became celebrated for his ability to record the words and thoughts of ordinary people. He said: "A tape recorder, with microphone in hand, or on the table, or the arm of a chair, or in the grass, can transform both the visitor and the host. It can be used to capture the thoughts of the non-celebrated-on the steps of a public housing project, in a frame bungalow, in a furnished apartment, in a parked car-and these 'statistics' become persons, each one unique. I am constantly astonished."

It's the birthday of British novelist H. E. (Herbert Ernest) Bates, born in Rushton, Northamptonshire, England (1905). He published his first novel when he was twenty, but didn't enjoy much success as a novelist until twenty years later, when he was commissioned as by the British armed forces as a fiction writer. His best known novel is The Darling Buds of May (1958), about a family of fruit pickers and scrap dealers.

It's the birthday of American writer and educator Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, born in Billerica, Massachusetts (1804). She was a member of the Transcendentalist circle-Ralph Waldo Emerson taught her Greek, Nathaniel Hawthorne married her sister, she was William Ellery Channing's editor, and Bronson Alcott's assistant at his experimental school. The Transcendental Club met at her bookshop in Boston, and their journal, The Dial, was published there. In 1860, she opened the first English-language kindergarten in the United States, and spent the rest of her long life lecturing and writing about the kindergarten movement, and organizing new kindergartens around the country.

On this day in 1763, James Boswell first made the acquaintance of Samuel Johnson at Thomas Davies' bookshop in London. The twenty-three year old Boswell became a determined hanger-on of Dr. Johnson, and twenty-eight years later, to the day, he published the first volume of his monumental Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest biographies ever written.

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