Oct. 24, 2006

Sometimes We Don't Talk Much, Debbie And I

by Greg Kosmicki

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Poem: "Sometimes We Don't Talk Much, Debbie And I" by Greg Kosmicki, from Some Hero of the Past. © Word Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Sometimes We Don't Talk Much, Debbie And I

              so today we take an afternoon drive to an orchard
buy two jars of dark honey, an acorn squash,
three cucumbers, six ears of corn, a gigantic muskmelon,
a sack of hot peppers for seventy-five cents, a half-dozen tomatoes,
a small basket each of Jonathans, McJonathans
and Akanes,
                       talk all the way there
through the corn-green countryside,
                                  drive around
through small towns clustered
                              north of Omaha
     like beautiful mushroom rings around an old stump,

                       and we talk about the living it takes

                              talk until
                       years fall down like rain,

          and we drive our red car
                                  through the green hills back to Omaha
                          where our children
                                   nestle like mice

                                                                    in an old grain bin,
          and we bring back our box
                       filled with fresh fruits and vegetables
                                  and we bring back ourselves,
filled with our lives.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the novelist Norman Rush, (books by this author) born in San Francisco (1933). He worked a job as an antiquarian book dealer for about 15 years. His original idea was that he would write on the side, but he didn't get much writing done until he switched careers and became a teacher. He wrote a short story about the teaching experience, and sent it off to The New Yorker unsolicited, and they published it in 1978.

That same year, Rush and his wife accepted a position as co-directors of the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa. Rush said, "I was astonished by Africa. Everybody was there, and everybody was intriguing and trying to get a stake in southern Africa's future. Apartheid was falling apart, and nobody knew how the pieces would be put back together." After five years working for the Peace Corps, he came back to the United States with three cartons' worth of notes.

He immediately began writing a series of short stories about his experience, and those stories became his first book, Whites (1986), which became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A few years later, he came out with his first novel, Mating (1991), about an American woman who goes to Botswana to finish her Ph.D. in nutritional anthropology and falls into a relationship with a man trying to create a utopian community in the Kalahari Desert. It went on to win a National Book Award.

His most recent book is Mortals, which came out in 2003.

It's the birthday of poet and activist Denise Levertov, (books by this author) born in Ilford, Essex, England (1923). Levertov never had any formal schooling of any kind. Her education consisted mainly of her mother reading her Tolstoy, Conrad, Dickens, and Cather. When she was 12, she wrote a poem that she sent to T. S. Eliot. He wrote her back. Even though she lost the letter, she remembered that he advised her to read poetry in a foreign language, and to keep on writing.

She worked as a nurse during World War II. And then, after the war, she began hitchhiking around Europe, and it was on that trip that she met her husband. She had long been writing fairly conventional poetry, but when she and her husband moved to the United States, she became friends with the poet Robert Creeley and other members of the avant garde Black Mountain school of poetry, and they helped persuade her to write more experimental poems in collections such as O Taste and See (1964) and The Sorrow Dance (1967).

It's the birthday of playwright Moss Hart, (books by this author) born in New York City (1904). He grew up poor, but his eccentric aunt, Kate, began taking him to the theater when he was seven years old. He always credited her for getting him hooked on the theater.

As a young man, he got a job as the entertainment director for a series of summer resorts along the Borscht Belt in the Catskills. He later said that keeping city folks sufficiently entertained when they are on vacation was the toughest job he ever had, but he learned a lot about drama from the experience.

Hart wanted more than anything to write a big important play, like his idol Eugene O'Neill, but producers kept turning him down, telling him that they wanted comedies. So Hart decided to give them what they wanted, and the result was his play Once in a Lifetime. When it came out in 1930, the play was a big hit and Moss Hart became rich and famous almost overnight. He was just 25 years old.

He went on to co-write plays such as You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner, and he directed the musicals My Fair Lady and Camelot.

It's the birthday of the man who created Batman: Bob Kane, (books by this author) born in the Bronx (1916). He created Batman for DC Comics to compete with Superman. Batman is alter ego of multimillionaire Bruce Wayne and one of the few superheroes in the history of comic books who doesn't have any special powers.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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