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+
by Maxine Kumin
The far court opens for us all July.
Your arm, flung up like an easy sail bellying,
comes down on the serve in a blue piece of sky
barely within reach, and you following
tip forward on the smash. The sun sits still
on the hard white linen lip of the net. Five-love.
Salt runs behind my ears at thirty-all.
At game I see the sweat that you’re made of
We improve each other, quickening so by noon
that the white game moves itself, the universe
contracted to the edge of the dividing line
you toe against, limbering for your service,
arm up, swiping the sun time after time,
and the square I live in, measured out with lime.
“Prothalamion” by Maxine Kumin from Selected Poems: 1960-1990. © Norton, 1997. Reprinted with permission of the Maxine W. Kumin Literary Trust. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of novelist and short-story writer J.F. Powers (books by this author), born James Farl Powers in Jacksonville, Illinois (1917). His family was Catholic, but the town was heavily Protestant, and Powers wrote about a similar town in his first novel: “Protestants were very sure of themselves there. If you were a Catholic boy you felt that it was their country, handed down to them by the Pilgrims, George Washington, and others, and that they were taking a risk in letting you live in it.” He went to Catholic school, he was a great basketball player, and then he started working odd jobs to support himself and his family during the Great Depression. By the time World War II started, he was unemployed and living in Chicago, but he loved it because he met all sorts of interesting people — jazz singers, political exiles, pacifists.
Powers refused to join the war, and so he was sent to a federal prison in Sandstone, Minnesota. He was paroled to work as an orderly in a hospital in St. Paul, and he wrote fiction at night. In 1947, he published Prince of Darkness, a book of short stories. He continued to write novels and short stories, mostly satire, many of them about priests in small towns in Minnesota. His books never sold very well, even though they got great reviews and his novel Morte d’Urban (1962) won the National Book Award.
Today is the birthday of columnist, novelist, and essayist Anna Quindlen (books by this author), born in Philadelphia (1953). She entered journalism as a “copy girl” for the New York Times at the age of 18. She also went to Barnard, but then had to drop out to raise her four younger siblings after her mother died of ovarian cancer. It was so hard juggling all of those things that she was determined to never have kids of her own. She eventually went back to finish her degree, but found it hard to relate to her classmates and their concerns: “Having looked after someone who’s dying, having given [my mother] morphine, having made school lunches for your siblings — and then going back to a place where the biggest concern is, ‘Am I going to ace this gut course?’ It makes you feel like you’ve been taken out of one world and thrown back into it again.”
After she graduated from Barnard, she was hired by the New York Post, and later the New York Times, as a reporter. She became an Op-Ed columnist in 1981 — only the third woman in the paper’s history to do so — and found her niche writing about political and women’s issues from a highly personal viewpoint. Her Times column “Public & Private” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1992. And it was around this time, after she turned 30, that she changed her mind about having kids.
In spite of her success in journalism, she still harbored dreams of writing fiction. She had started writing novels while she was working on her column and raising her three young children. Her first two novels — Object Lessons (1991) and One True Thing (1994) — were so successful that she left the newspaper business in 1995 to become a full-time novelist.
Her newest book is Nanaville (2019), about being a grandparent.
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.
Kübler-Ross died in 2004.
It’s the 91st 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. When she received the phone call informing her that her book had won the Pulitzer, she thought it was a practical joke and she hung up the phone. Grau has long received death threats for her discussions of race and interracial marriage.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®