November 3, 2018
Garrison Keillor performs with duet partner Lynne Peterson and longtime collaborator & pianist Richard Dworsky.
5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
A live performance at the Brady Theater
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
A live performance at the Saenger Theatre
A live performance at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center
“My Own Heart” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Public domain. (buy now)
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.
It’s the birthday of the children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, (books by this author) born Helen Beatrix Potter in London, England (1866). She’s the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908).
And it’s the birthday of the poet John Ashbery, (books by this author) born in Rochester, New York (1927). His father was a fruit farmer and his mother a high school biology teacher, and neither of them was very interested in literature. But his grandfather lived nearby and had a big library, and the boy would spend hours in there reading everything he could. He said, “There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.”
It’s the birthday of one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, Gerard Manley Hopkins, (books by this author) born at Stratford, England (1844). He’s known for being a technical master of poetic devices like alliteration, assonance, and sprung rhythm.
Hopkins was nervous, intense, and often despairing. He’d grown up in an Anglican family and in his 20s decided to convert to Catholicism along with a few friends. And then he went even further — he decided to become a priest, a Jesuit.
He set fire to all his early poems, judging them to be too “worldly.” Even among a campus full of Jesuit seminarians in rural Wales, he earned a reputation for being particularly odd and eccentric. In the winter, he would go stare at ponds that had frozen over, fixated on the arrangement of little bubbles stuck inside. After it rained, he would run outside to see how the water formed dew drops on the grass. He absolutely loved nature, and he wrote that lying down and staring up at willow trees overhead was “the summit of human happiness.”
After he graduated from seminary, the Jesuits sent him off to teach kids at inner-city grade schools around Great Britain. He was miserable in these industrial cities, where the skies were polluted and there were not many ponds or fields for him to look at. He wrote that his “muse turned utterly sullen in the Sheffield smoke-ridden air.”
Eventually, he was appointed classics professor at University College–Dublin where, according to biographer Richard Ellmann, Hopkins was “out of place in the Irish scene but at home in a state of exalted misery.” He died of typhus at the age of 44.
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
It’s the birthday of Austrian science philosopher Karl Popper (books by this author), born in Vienna in 1902. His main contribution to the philosophy of science is his rejection of inductive reasoning, which is the view that one can prove a scientific theory is true through trials and experiments. Popper countered that it was impossible to prove irrefutably that something was true; the best you could do was to try every method you could think of to prove that it was not true. If you were unable to prove it false, then you could consider your theory corroborated, but not proven “true.”
He said that Freudian psychoanalysis, astrology, and Marxist history were not sciences because they couldn’t be proven false. He also said: “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program. And yet, the theory is invaluable. I do not see how, without it, our knowledge could have grown as it has done since Darwin.”
Today is the birthday of inventor Earl Tupper (1907). He was born on a farm in Berlin, New Hampshire, where his mother took in laundry and ran a boarding house. He was a salesman and inventor even as a child, selling the farm’s produce door-to-door and inventing contraptions to save labor on the farm. Tupper started his own landscape and nursery business, Tupper Tree Doctors, which went bankrupt in 1936; he then took a job with the DuPont Chemical Company and began working with polyethylene plastics.
He only stayed at DuPont for a year, but he took what he learned about plastics and developed clear storage containers with watertight, flexible lids, which he called “Tupperware.” He sold his product through department and hardware stores, without much success; people couldn’t figure out how to make the lids work unless someone demonstrated it for them. In 1948, he met with home products distributor, Brownie Wise, who told him she’d had great success selling Tupperware at parties in her home. He pulled his products from the shelves and named Wise the vice president of the new Tupperware Home Parties in 1951.
It’s the birthday of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, born Jacqueline Bouvier in Southampton, New York (1929). She was the eldest of two daughters, and she wrote poems and essays as a child. Her work occasionally appeared in local newspapers, and she won the graduating award for literature in high school for a cartoon series she wrote and illustrated. In 1951, she entered Vogue magazine’s Prix de Paris contest: Entrants were asked to design an entire issue of the magazine, as well as an advertising campaign, and write an essay on the subject “People I Wish I Had Known.” (She named playwright Oscar Wilde, poet Charles Baudelaire, and Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes.) She won the contest, but because part of the prize involved working in Paris for six months, her mother made her turn it down. She later worked as “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald, earning $42.50 a week and interviewing several politicians, including her future husband, John F. Kennedy.
She never lost her love of poetry, even though her life took her far from her early writing career, and she tried to instill that love in her children, Caroline and John Jr. Every year, she required them to select a poem that they liked, copy it down, and present it to her for her birthday. She saved them in her scrapbook. Caroline has carried on the tradition with her own children, and has also published three poetry anthologies, including A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children (2005), whose cover features a photo, taken by Jackie, of young Caroline reading to her teddy bear. “The things parents enjoy and care about really do get passed on,” Caroline told CBS’s The Early Show. “I think both my parents really believed in the power of words to change the world. Think it really helps people find their own way if they read and write and think about themselves and finding their voice. I think poetry has a great role to play and really can connect the generations.”