Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
Ocean of Grass
by Edward Hirsch
Text of this poem is not available.
“Ocean of Grass” from THE LIVING FIRE: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by Edward Hirsch, copyright © 2010 by Edward Hirsch. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division. (buy now)
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In 1983, after years of petitions, conferences, and advocacy on behalf of the holiday, Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law that made Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday.
Every four years on this day, we celebrate Inauguration Day; the last Inauguration Day was in 2017, and the next will be a year from today. Inauguration Day was originally held on March 4th because the entire process from voting to inauguration took so long — news was carried by horseback, and travel was often delayed due to bad roads during the icy winter months. Technology sped up the process, so in 1933 the 20th Amendment changed the first day of the president’s and vice president’s terms to January 20th. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the final president inaugurated on March 4th, and the first president inaugurated on January 20th.
In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
In 1961, John F Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
In 1969, Richard Nixon said: “We have endured a long night of the American spirit. But as our eyes catch the dimness of the first rays of dawn, let us not curse the remaining dark. Let us gather the light.”
In 1981, Ronald Reagan said: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
In January of 1993, Bill Clinton said: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
In his second inaugural address in 2013, Barack Obama said: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
In 2017, Donald J. Trump said: “A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.”
Today we celebrate the birthday of musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, born on or near this day in Mooringsport, Louisiana (1889). Lead Belly sang the blues and played the 12-string guitar, harmonica, violin, piano, and accordion. From the time he was a teenager, he played and sang gospel, blues, cowboy songs, prison work songs, old chants, and pop. He traveled around the South, working in the fields and playing his music on the streets of Shreveport and Dallas.
Lead Belly became a famous musician, playing for huge crowds across the country. His most famous songs include “The Midnight Special,” “Rock Island Line,” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
It’s the birthday of Edward Hirsch (1950) (books by this author), born in Chicago, Illinois. He studied at Grinnell College in Iowa, and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Ph.D. in folklore.
He started to write poetry as a teenager, not because he wanted to be a poet, but because he was trying to find a way to cope with the turbulent feelings of adolescence. Later, he showed some of his poems to a teacher at Grinnell, who told him, “These aren’t poems; these are diary entries” and sent him off to read some of the great poets. “I then let the poetry itself be my guide, the poetry itself teach me how to read it. Later, when I was in my late 30s and early 40s I was thinking back to that boy I was and I was thinking, ‘You know, a guide would have been a help, and I think readers could use some help.’” In 1999, he published that guide: a book called How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. It was an instant best-seller and has had several printings.
He told Contemporary Authors: “I would like to speak in my poems with what the Romantic poets called ‘the true voice of feeling.’ I believe, as Ezra Pound once said, that when it comes to poetry, ‘only emotion endures.’”
It’s the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Robert Olen Butler (books by this author), born in Granite City, Illinois (1945). He won the Pulitzer Prize for short fiction in 1993 for his collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992).
His collection Tabloid Dreams (1997) features short stories that are based on actual headlines he had seen in grocery store tabloid newspapers. His most recent work is the novel Paris in the Dark (2018).
It’s the birthday of novelist Susan Vreeland (books by this author), born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1946. She grew up in California, became a teacher, and for 30 years she taught English and ceramics in the San Diego public schools. She wrote a book called What Love Sees (1988), based on the true story of her parents’ friends, a couple who were both blind but who managed a ranch and raised children with the help of a Seeing Eye cow. But she was also busy with her teaching, and for a while she wrote occasional stories or articles, but not much else.
Then, in 1996, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She had chemotherapy and operations, and for a few months she couldn’t do much but read, and even that was hard for her. So instead, she paged through art books, and she especially liked Vermeer, whose paintings were so calming. She needed more treatment, and she had to take off another year of teaching, and so she started writing stories based on Vermeer. Vermeer only painted 35 paintings, and so Susan Vreeland imagined that he had painted one more, and she wrote a story about that, and then several more stories about Vermeer and the imagined 36th painting and the people who owned it over the years. She said: “My goal at the time wasn’t to create a novel that would make it out in the big world. It was to have enough time left in my life to finish this group of stories and print out 12 copies, so my husband could give them to members of my writing group so they’d have something to remember me by.” She did finish them, and she turned them into a novel, and a tiny publishing house in Denver agreed to publish the novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999). It became a bestseller.
Vreeland died in 2017 at the age of 71, from complications of heart surgery.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®