Feb. 6, 2008


by Fleur Adcock

There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
and worse.

"Things" by Fleur Adcock, from Selected Poems. © Oxford University Press, 1986. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of lexicographer and writer Eric Partridge, (books by this author) born in Poverty Bay, New Zealand (1894), who wrote some of the very first dictionaries of slang before scholars considered it a serious subject. In A Dictionary of the Underworld (1949) and A Dictionary of Catchphrases (1977), Partridge chronicled the language of not only the common person, but also of "crooks, criminals, racketeers, beggars, and tramps."

It's the birthday of poet Victor Hernández Cruz, (books by this author) born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico (1949). His parents moved to New York City when he was six years old, and he grew up on the Lower East Side. He went on to become an important member of the group of writers known as the Nuyorican poets - poets from Puerto Rico who grew up in New York City and who write about the blending of the two cultures. He has published many books of poetry, including Snaps (1969) - titled for the finger-snapping rhythms in El Barrio, a Puerto Rican neighborhood of New York City - as well as Tropicalization (1976) and Maraca: New and Selected Poems (2000).

It's the birthday of NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw (books by this author) born in Webster, South Dakota (1940). As the anchor of NBC's The Today Show and the Nightly News, Brokaw earned a reputation for straight reporting and for working long hours to stay with a story no matter where or when it happened. In 1998, he wrote the book The Greatest Generation about the people who shaped the United States after World War II. In his new book, Boom!: Voices of the Sixties (2007), he takes a look at where current leaders were during the decade and at the legacy that the Sixties has left on America today. When remembering the November morning in 1963 when President Kennedy was shot, he writes "In ways we could not have known then, the gunshots in Dealey Plaza triggered a series of historic changes: the quagmire of Vietnam that led to the fall of Lyndon Johnson as president; the death of Robert Kennedy in pursuit of the presidency; and the comeback, presidency, and subsequent disgrace of Richard Nixon."

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