Sep. 28, 2005


by C. K. Williams

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Peace" by C. K. Williams, from Love About Love © Ausable Press, 2001. Reprinted with permission.


We fight for hours, through dinner, through the endless evening,
who even knows now what about,
what could be so dire to have to suffer so for, stuck in one another's
craws like fishbones,
the cadavers of our argument dissected, flayed, but we go on with
it, to bed, and through the night,
feigning sleep, dreaming sleep, hardly sleeping, so precisely never
touching, back to back,
the blanket bridged across us for the wintry air to tunnel down, to
keep us lifting, turning,
through the angry dark that holds us in its cup of pain, the aching
dark, the weary dark,
then, toward dawn, I can't help it, though justice won't I know be
served, I pull her to me,
and with such accurate, graceful deftness she rolls to me that we
arrive embracing our entire lengths.

Literary and Historical Notes:

Today is a big day in the history of the English language. On this day, in 1066, William the Conqueror of Normandy arrived on British soil. Having defeated the British in the Battle of Hastings and on Christmas day he was crowned the King in Westminster Abby.

At the time the British were speaking a combination of Saxon and Old Norse. The Normans, of course, spoke French, and over time the languages blended. To the Saxon word "house" came the Norman word "mansion." To the Saxon word "cow" came the Norman word "beef" and so on.

So the English language now contains more than a million words, one of the most diverse languages on earth. Cyril Connelly wrote, "The English language is like a broad river ... being polluted by a string of refuse-barges tipping out their muck." But Walt Whitman said, "The English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all."

It's the birthday of John Sayles, born in Schenectady, New York (1950). He's one of the few writers who went on to become a successful filmmaker. His first novel was Pride of the Bimbos (1975), about five men who make a living playing exhibition baseball dressed as women.

He got his first screenwriting job on a horror movie called Piranha. He said, "My whole job was to contrive a reason why people, once they hear there are piranhas in the river, don't just stay out of the river but end up getting eaten. That's basically what they paid me $10,000 for."

It's the birthday of Ed Sullivan, born in New York City (1902). He was writing a gossip column for the New York Daily News called "Little Old New York," moonlighting now and then as a master of ceremonies at variety shows and benefits. He was emceeing a dance contest when somebody asked him if he'd like to try hosting a show on this new thing called television.

The Ed Sullivan Show premiered live on CBS in 1948, and within a few years about 50 million people watched it every Sunday night. It was like vaudeville. It had opera singers, ventriloquists and magicians and pandas on roller skates and big stars. Ed Sullivan said, "Open big, have a good comedy act, put in something for children, and keep the show clean."

He was a shy, awkward man, but he loved performers. He personally chose every guest for his show. He was one of the first hosts to invite black performers, including Jackie Robinson, Duke Ellington, Richard Pryor, and James Brown.

Ed Sullivan: the last television host who tried to appeal to everyone in America.

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