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 Mother’s Colander
by Dorianne Laux
Holes in the shape of stars
punched in gray tin, dented,
cheap, beaten by each
of her children with a wooden spoon.
Noodle catcher, spaghetti stopper,
pouring cloudy rain into the sink,
swirling counter clockwise
down the drain, starch slime
on the backside, caught
in the piercings.
Scrubbed for sixty years, packed
and unpacked, the baby’s
helmet during the cold war,
a sinking ship in the bathtub,
little boat of holes.
Dirt scooped in with a plastic
shovel, sifted to make cakes
and castles. Wrestled
from each other’s hands,
its tin feet bent and re-bent.
Bowl daylight fell through
onto freckled faces, noon stars
on the pavement, the universe
we circled aiming jagged stones,
rung bells it caught and held.
“My Mother’s Colander” by Dorianne Laux from Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems. © W. W. Norton and company, 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
The Declaration of Independence was read to Washington’s troops on this day in 1776. The newly penned and long-awaited document had been delivered to Washington on July 6, included in a letter from John Hancock, who was President of the Continental Congress. Washington needed to inspire his troops to fight the British, so this was good timing: he could now rouse them to defend their fledgling nation. He gave the written order to assemble nearly 30,000 soldiers and sailors at the parade grounds in New York City at six o’clock. He closed by writing: “The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”
At the assembly, each commander received a copy of the declaration to read to his regiment. Many locals were also on hand, and after the declaration was read, soldiers and civilians alike were celebrating in the streets. The celebration turned to a riot: a group of patriots, led by Isaac Sears, stormed down Broadway to Bowling Green. There, they toppled a 4,000-pound equestrian statue of King George III and smashed it to pieces. The perpetrators put the head aside, intending to place it on a pike, but British partisans stole it and shipped it back to England. The rest of the statue was shipped to Connecticut, to the farm of General Oliver Wolcott, where it was melted down. Eventually, much of the statue was returned to the British in the form of 42,000 lead bullets, fired from Colonial muskets.
It’s the birthday of Dean Koontz (books by this author), born in Everett, Pennsylvania (1945). He grew up in an impoverished and violent home, and after he went away to college, he converted to Catholicism, he said, because it helped him make sense of the chaos of his childhood and to appreciate mysteries in life.
He published his first book, a science fiction novel called Star Quest, in 1968. Over the next 18 years, Koontz wrote 54 novels, none of which was a best-seller, books with titles like Demon Child (1971) and The Flesh in the Furnace (1972). He used 10 different pseudonyms because he was publishing several different books each year. He finally made the hardcover best-seller list with his novel Strangers (1986).
It’s the birthday of anthropologist Franz Boas (books by this author), born in Minden, Westphalia, Germany (1858). Boaz stressed the need to study four fields — ethnology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and archaeology — before making any generalizations about any one culture. He trained the first generation of American anthropologists, including Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. He established the first Department of Anthropology in 1896, at Columbia University.
It’s the birthday of the man the New York Times called “the poet laureate of contemporary medicine,” neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks (books by this author), born in London (1933). Sacks’s mother was one of England’s first female surgeons; his father was a general practitioner. His parents were not demonstrative and treated their children like colleagues: Sacks was dissecting human tissue with his mother by the age of 11. As a teenager, he became fascinated with chemistry, a subject he later explored in his memoir, Uncle Tungsten (2001), the first draft of which topped out at more than 2 million words.
Sacks fled England for Canada in 1960, sending his parents a one-word telegram, “Staying.” In California, he dabbled in drugs, developed a taste for motorcycles, and befriended the poet Thom Gunn. Sacks cleaned up his act and by 1965 was in New York, failing miserably as a research scientist. Once, he forgot to tie his lab notebook tightly enough to his motorcycle rack and his papers blew over the Cross Bronx Expressway. His supervisors said: “Sacks, you are a menace in the lab. Why don’t you go and see patients — you’ll do less harm.”
In a dilapidated Bronx hospital, Sacks found his calling. “When I wandered in there, on my first day, I saw these frozen, transfixed people in the corridors. I had never seen anything like that. I thought, ‘These are my people.’” His patients were victims of encephalitis lethargica, or “sleeping sickness,” which had swept the world in the early 20th century. Sacks turned his findings into a best-selling book, Awakenings, blending the role of physician and writer, a stance that proved popular with readers, but not with the medical establishment, which questioned the quality of his science.
Sacks passed away in 2015.