Mar. 27, 2008

You made crusty bread rolls...

by Gary Johnson

You made crusty bread rolls filled with chunks of brie
And minced garlic and drizzled with olive oil
And baked them until the brie was bubbly
And we ate them thoughtfully, our legs coiled
Together under the table And then salmon with dill
And lemon and whole-wheat cous cous
Baked with garlic and fresh ginger, and a hill
Of green beans and carrots roasted with honey and tofu.
it was beautiful, the candles and linens and silver,
The winter sun setting on our snowy street,
Me with my hand on your leg, you, my lover,
In your jeans and green T-shirt and beautiful feet.
   How simple life is. We buy a fish. We are fed.
   We sit close to each other, we talk and then we go to bed.

"You made crusty bread rolls... " by Gary Johnson. Used with permission of the poet.

On this day in 1964, the most powerful earthquake in the Western Hemisphere during the 20th century struck Anchorage, Alaska.

It's the birthday of T. R. Pearson, (books by this author) born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1956). He's the author of several novels, including Cry Me a River (1993) and Polar (2002).

It's the birthday of the novelist Julia Alvarez, (books by this author) born in New York City (1950). Though she was born in New York, she grew up in the Dominican Republic. When Alvarez was 10 years old, her family had to flee the country because her father was implicated in a plot to assassinate the Dominican president. All Alvarez knew at the time was that she was going back to New York, which she'd heard was a magical city. She said, "I would get to see the miracle of the snow, buildings that pricked the sky with their tops, and a host of other things which heretofore had only been the province of stories."

But when she got to America, she found that she didn't speak English as well as she thought she did. The other students made fun of her and called her names that she couldn't even understand. She said, "That was where I landed when we left the Dominican Republic, not in the United States but in the English language." She's written the novel How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), about four sisters making their way as Dominican refugees in New York, another novel called In the Time of the Butterflies (1994), and a poetry collection, The Woman I Kept to Myself (2004).

It's the birthday of the woman who wrote "Happy Birthday to You," Patty Smith Hill, born in Anchorage, Kentucky (1868).

It's the birthday of poet Louis Simpson, (books by this author) born in Jamaica, West Indies (1923). He's written 17 volumes of poetry, and his collection At the End of the Open Road (1963) won the Pulitzer Prize. In the late 1950s, his early, traditional rhyming verse — like that in The Arrivistes (1949) and Good News of Death and Other Poems (1955) — gave way to experimental free verse; he decided old forms were dead, that poetry should spring from the poet's inner life in a more natural way. He said, "The old-fashioned verse of epithets and opinions — writing of the will rather than the imagination — which is still practiced by those who think of themselves as avant-garde —is dead. And objective verse, which is only photography, is boring. Those who still write in these ways are at the mercy of their surroundings; they are depressed, and create nothing. Only in Surrealism, creating images and therefore realities, is there any joy."

It's the birthday of jazz singer and pianist Sarah Vaughan, born in Newark, New Jersey (1924) — who sang gospel music as a child and learned to play on a church organ. She was 18 when, on a dare, she entered a talent contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, sang "Body and Soul," and won. She was spotted by singer Billy Eckstine, who recommended her to Earl Hines, a bandleader with a remarkable ear for talent, who hired her as his band's relief pianist as well as singer. She sang "Misty," "Tenderly," "All of Me," and made dozens of other classic jazz recordings with Count Basie, Cannonball Adderly, Lester Young, and Oscar Peterson. Her hits include "It's Magic," "Send in the Clowns," and "I Cried for You."

She had a range of four octaves, as wide as an opera singer's. When she died in 1990, Mel Torme said, "She had the single best vocal instrument of any singer working in the popular field."

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




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