Feb. 4, 2008


by William Matthews

"Perhaps you'll tire of me," muses
my love, although she's like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn't tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can't
control is what we could; those drab,
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may augur we're on our owns

for good reasons. "Hi, honey," chirps Dread
when I come through the door, "you're home."
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it's far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let's cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

"Misgivings" by William Matthews, from After All: Last Poems. © Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of MacKinlay Kantor, (books by this author) born in Webster City, Iowa (1904), who decided that he wanted to be a writer when he was 17 years old, and for the next four years, he helped his mother edit the local newspaper. He went on to write the Civil War novels The Jaybird (1932) and Long Remember (1934), and he spent 25 years researching Andersonville (1955), about the Confederate prison camp where 50,000 Union soldiers were held. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956.

It's the birthday of the poet Gavin Ewart, (books by this author) born in London, England (1916). He's the author of many books of poetry, including Pleasures of the Flesh (1966) and The Learned Hippopotamus (1987). He started his poetic career early, when he was just 17 years old, with a poem in the prestigious British literary journal New Verse. He published his first book of poems when he was 23, and his work was compared to T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. But when World War II broke out, he stopped writing poetry, and he became an advertising copywriter and didn't publish another book until 1964, when his collection Londoners came out. Hs poetry is often described as light verse:

"For nursery days are gone, nightmare is
real and there are no god Fairies.
The fox's teeth are in the bunny
and nothing can remove them, honey."

It's the birthday of writer Stewart O'Nan, (books by this author) born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1961). He worked for years as an aerospace engineer, and when he came home from his work every day he would go down to his basement and write. In 1994, he published his first novel, Snow Angels, about a murder in a small town in western Pennsylvania. He often writes about characters who feel trapped by their circumstances and end up doing horrible things. He said, "My own life isn't terribly interesting, even to myself, and that ... [is] why I write about people and places so different from the ones I know."

It's the birthday of Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, who was born on this day in Detroit, Michigan (1902).

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Robert Coover, (books by this author) born in Charles City, Iowa (1932). As a boy, he moved with his family to a mining town in rural Illinois, where his father ran the local newspaper. His first novel, The Origin of the Brunists (1966), is about the lone survivor of a mining accident who goes on to start a religious cult. In response to the question "Why do you write?" he once said, "Because art blows life into the lifeless, death into the deathless." And, "Because art's lie is preferable, in truth, to life's beautiful terror."

He has gone on to write many experimental novels, including The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. (1968), The Public Burning (1977), and A Child Again (2005).

It was on this day in 1789 that the Electoral College unanimously elected George Washington as the first president of the United States.

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




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