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+
My Own Heart
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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.
“My own heart let me have more have pity on; let…” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Public domain. (buy now)
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).
Today is the birthday of poet John Ashbery (books by this author), born in Rochester, New York (1927), and raised on a farm near Lake Ontario. He worked as an art critic in Paris and New York in the 1950s and ’60s, and his poetry has been influenced by abstract expressionist art. It’s also often called “difficult.” “I’m quite puzzled by my work too, along with a lot of other people,” he told Contemporary Authors. “I was always intrigued by it, but at the same time a little apprehensive and sort of embarrassed about annoying the same critics who are always annoyed by my work. I’m kind of sorry that I cause so much grief.”
He’s won nearly every American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” grant. In 2009, he became the first living poet to be the subject of one of the Library of America’s “Collected Poems of …” series. The Oxonian Review remarked: “It is a fitting honour for a man whose decades-long reign as one of the high priests of the contemporary American poetry scene has always been something of a paradox. Having received nearly every major award for achievement in the humanities, he continues to incite considerable debate as to whether his poems ‘mean’ anything at all.”
Ashbery told the London Times: “I don’t find any direct statements in life. My poetry imitates or reproduces the way knowledge or awareness come to me, which is by fits and starts and by indirection. I don’t think poetry arranged in neat patterns would reflect that situation. My poetry is disjunct, but then so is life.”
Today is the birthday of English poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844) (books by this author), born in Stratford, Essex. He won a poetry prize in grammar school and then received a grant to study at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied Classics and continued to write poetry. His academic record was outstanding, earning him the approbation of one of his masters, who called him “the star of Balliol.”
While he was at Oxford, Hopkins (who had been raised in the Anglican Church) converted to Roman Catholicism. His experience was so profound that he decided to become a Jesuit priest in 1868, and he burned all his poetry, feeling it was not befitting his profession as a clergyman. He did continue to keep a journal, however, and in 1875, he returned to poetry. He was living in Wales, and found its landscape and its language inspirational. When five Franciscan nuns died in a shipwreck, he was moved to write a long poem, The Wreck of the Deutschland.
Once he was ordained in 1877, he worked as a parish priest in the slums of Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. He lived in Dublin from 1884 until his death of typhoid fever in 1889. Overworked, exhausted, and unwell, he wasn’t happy there, and his poetry reflects his unhappiness. Called the “terrible sonnets,” they show the poet’s struggles with spiritual and artistic matters.
Most of his poetry wasn’t published in his lifetime, and it was so innovative that most people who did get to read it didn’t understand it. As he wrote in a letter to Burns, “No doubt, my poetry errs on the side of oddness …” But it influenced such 20th-century poets as W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and Charles Wright.
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, a diplomat and attorney, 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.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®