Apr. 1, 2010

The Saints of April

by Todd Davis

Coltsfoot gives way to dandelion,
plum to apple blossom. Cherry fills
our woods, white petals melting
like the last late snow. Dogwood's
stigmata shine with the blood
of this season. How holy
forsythia and redbud are
as they consume their own
flowers, green leaves running
down their crowns. Here is
the shapeliness of bodies
newly formed, the rich cloth
that covers frail bones and hides
roots that hold fervently
to this dark earth.

      --For Jack Ridl

"The Saints of April" by Todd Davis, from The Least of These. © Michigan State University Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today is April Fools' Day. It's also the birthday of playwright Edmond Rostand, born in Marseilles, France (1868). He's best known as the author of the play Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), based on an actual person. In the play, Cyrano is the most dashing, brave, and romantic man in France, able to compose sonnets while engaged in a sword fight, but he also has the largest nose anyone has ever seen. Because of his huge nose, he decides he can never win over Roxanne, the love of his life.

It's the birthday of novelist Francine Prose,  born in Brooklyn, New York (1947). She's the author of Judah the Pious (1973), Hungry Hearts (1983), and Bigfoot Dreams (1987). Her most recent book is Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife (2009).

Francine Prose said, "For now, books are still the best way of taking great art and its consolations along with us on the bus."

It's the birthday of Rachel Maddow, who began hosting her own political television show on a Monday night in September 2008 and a week later had the most-watched MSNBC show of the night, with more than 1.8 million viewers. She doubled the audience for the station's 9 p.m. hour, and a large chunk of her viewers fall in the much-sought-after demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds.

She writes up essays of commentary for her nightly show, talks about news events that she feels haven't been covered enough (which she calls "Holy Mackerel" stories), announces a "cocktail moment" — a bit of trivia or witticism that can be used to impress friends — and does extensive reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She went to Stanford, studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (the first openly gay Rhodes Scholar ever chosen), and while writing her graduate dissertation, entitled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons, she moved out to rural Massachusetts in the hopes of depriving herself of distractions and thereby forcing herself to sit down and write. She worked a number of odd jobs to survive, including, she lists, "waitress, bike messenger, bucket washer at a coffee-bean factory, yard help, landscaping laborer, and handyman." Before she appeared on MSNBC, she had her own very popular radio program, also called The Rachel Maddow Show. She still doesn't own a television.

She's at work on a book about the military and politics, and it's being edited by Rachel Klayman, who helped edit then-Senator Barack Obama's 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope.

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




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