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+
How to Sacrifice
by Mick Cochrane
Pivot in the box. Square up.
Surrender to the pitcher.
Slide your top hand up the barrel,
don’t squeeze, keep your hands
soft, bend your knees.
You need to keep your balance.
Let the ball come to you––
be patient. Don’t stab at it.
Point your bat, absorb the shock,
and hope the ball stays fair.
Afterwards expect no high-fives,
no headlines, no contract
extension. No one bunts
himself onto an all-star team.
You do it because that runner
on first, he needs to come home.
He’s your teammate,
he’s your brother, he’s your son,
and you, you’re the guy who still
knows how to lay one down.
“How to Sacrifice” by Mick Cochrane from Southern Poetry Review, 55.2. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the poet Jean de La Fontaine (books by this author), born in Château-Thierry, in the Champagne region of France (1621). Originally intended for the clergy, he soon found that religion bored him, and he was much more interested in the Parisian social scene. For a while, he took over his father’s post as an inspector of forests and waterways. But he had a knack for charming people, especially rich patrons who supported him while he wrote his famous Fables (1668-1693), several volumes of poems that tell familiar stories such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” and “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.” They are still popular in France today, where they are memorized by schoolchildren and studied by scholars.
It was on this day in 1918 that Ernest Hemingway was wounded while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver in World War I (books by this author). The following January, Hemingway traveled back to his parents’ home, still recuperating from his injury. He walked around with a cane, read everything he could get his hands on, and taught his sisters Italian swear words. He was a small-town war hero and often spoke at schools and social clubs about his experience in the war. He always passed around his bloodstained, shrapnel-torn trousers.
The wound he received would go on to become the central event of his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929), which he considered his best book, and his experiences in Italy appeared in many short stories as well. He later said, “In Italy, when I was at the war there … my own small experiences gave me a touchstone by which I could tell whether stories were true or false and being wounded was a password.”
It’s the birthday of the writer who said, “God doesn’t like crap in art.” That’s J.F. Powers (books by this author), born in Jacksonville, Illinois (1917). He grew up Roman Catholic in a town of Protestants. He was religious, but, he said, “I never wanted to be a priest. Although part of it was the celibacy, it was more the matter of being on call to the public.” In 1943, he joined a retreat for priests at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota — the only layperson in the group. Not long after, he wrote a story called “Lions, Harts, Leaping Does,” which was published in Accent magazine and launched his literary career.
His father had been a piano prodigy who gave up his artistic dreams for an office job, and Powers was determined never to do the same. He published his first collection, Prince of Darkness (1947), which became the second-best-selling short-story collection of the year. In 1962, Powers published a novel, Morte d’Urban, and it won the National Book Award, beating out works by Vladimir Nabokov, Katherine Anne Porter, and John Updike. He was adored by critics and fellow writers, and received awards and honors. But his books were never a commercial success, and he published just two novels and three collections of stories.
He said: “I think it’s possible to write something, for me to write something, that even God might like. […] Not as a soul seeking salvation, but just as entertainment for God. This may be blasphemous to say, but I believe it.”
It’s the birthday of psychiatrist and writer Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (books by this author) born in Zurich, Switzerland (1926). She went to medical school, where she got married to an American physician, and they moved to the United States. She did her internship and residency in psychiatry. She went to the University of Chicago and worked with terminally ill patients. Instead of pretending they were going to get better, she asked them to talk to her about death. She decided that other people needed to hear what they had to say, so she set up a forum where doctors, nurses, and medical students could come listen to terminally ill patients and ask them questions. Many people in the medical profession disapproved of her work — they thought it was indecent — but most patients were eager to talk. She used these conversations to write On Death and Dying (1969), which became a huge best-seller. In it, she outlined the five stages of grief, specifically when someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her work also paved the way for hospice care.
It’s the birthday of writer Shirley Ann Grau (books by this author), whose novels and short stories, set in the Deep South, explore the intricacies of race and gender. Grau was born in New Orleans (1929), spent her childhood in Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, and was educated at finishing schools. She says, “I was probably the only 17-year-old who knew precisely how to set a table if I happened to be giving a dinner for the pope.” The head of the English department at Tulane University turned down her request for a teaching position, telling her, “There will be no females in the English Department.” She married a philosophy teacher, began having children, and kept writing, making notes on scraps of paper and holding “noisy conversations” with her characters. Grau corrected the galleys for her first book, The Black Prince, in her pediatrician’s office, as her son was being treated for measles, spreading the papers on the long examination table.
Though considered one of the finest portrayers of relationships between blacks and whites in American literature, Grau says, “I’m interested in people, but not as representative of race. I see people first. I do stories first.” She was just 35 when she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1965 for The Keepers of the House, about a wealthy white man who marries his black housekeeper.