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
Some things never change: the velvet flock
of the turf, the baselines smoothed to suede,
the ancient smell of peanuts, the harsh smack
the ball makes burrowing into the catcher’s mitt.
Here in the Grapefruit League’s trellised shade
you catch Pie Traynor’s lofting rightfield foul
all over again. You’re ten in Fenway Park
and wait past suppertime for him to autograph it
then race for home all goosebumps in the dark
to roll the keepsake ball in paraffin,
soften your secondhand glove with neat’s-foot oil
and wrap your Louisville Slugger with friction tape.
The Texas Leaguers, whatever league you’re in
still tantalize, the way they waver and drop.
Carl Hubbell’s magical screwball is still
give or take sixty years unhittable.
Sunset comes late but comes, inexorable.
What lingers is the slender hook of hope.
“Spring Training” by Maxine Kumin, from Connecting the Dots. © Norton, 1996. Reprinted with permission of the Maxine W. Kumin Literary Trust. (buy now)
It’s the anniversary of the first exhibition of Picasso‘s work in Paris (1901). Art dealer Ambroise Vollard staged the exhibition in his gallery on the Rue Lafitte. Picasso, then 19, had already produced hundreds of paintings, but he was unknown outside of Barcelona. He exhibited 75 paintings at the exhibition, and the response of the few critics who visited was generally favorable; Picasso decided to stay in Paris, and by 1904 he had set up a permanent studio there.
The summer of 1901 also marked the beginning of his Blue Period, which lasted three years. Picasso used blue tones to evoke a feeling of melancholy and introspection. The Old Guitarist (1903) and Life (1903) are outstanding examples of the Blue Period.
He wrote: “Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand.”
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions derived from anywhere: from the sky, from the earth, from a piece of paper, from a passing figure, from a spider’s web.”
It’s the birthday of Ambrose Bierce (books by this author), born near Horse Cave Creek, Ohio (1842). He wrote essays, journalism, and satire, and he’s well known for his short stories, especially “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890) and The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), a satirical reference book. He volunteered for the Union Army when the Civil War broke out, and he was only the second person in his county to do so. He fought in some of the bloodiest battles, and later he wrote stories about the war: bleak, bitter stories with senseless deaths and no heroes.
It was on this day in 1374 in Aachen, Germany that an outbreak of dancing plague or dancing mania, also known as St. Vitus’ Dance, first began. From Aachen it spread across central Europe and as far away as England and Madagascar. Dancing mania affected groups of people — as many as thousands at a time — and caused them to dance uncontrollably for days, weeks, and even months until they collapsed from exhaustion. Some danced themselves to death, suffering heart attacks or broken hips and ribs. At the time, people believed the plague was the result of a curse from St. Vitus. Scientists now tend to believe it was due to ergot poisoning or mass hysteria.
He taught at various colleges, including Kansas State and Harvard, before giving up teaching for writing full time. Ciardi’s popularity grew after the publication of his 1959 textbook, How Does a Poem Mean? — still widely used in high schools and colleges across America. He completed his last collection of poetry, The Birds of Pompeii, shortly before his death in 1986.
It’s the birthday of novelist Anita Desai (books by this author), born in Mussoorie, India (1937). Her mother was German and her father was Bengali. She grew up speaking German at home, Hindi with her friends, learned Bengali from her father, and listened to Urdu poetry recited in the street. But she first learned to read and write in school, and in English. She said: “I think it had a tremendous effect that the first thing you saw written and the first thing you ever read was English. It seemed to me the language of books. I just went on writing it because I always wanted to belong to this world of books.”
Desai’s novels include Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984), and Fasting, Feasting (1999).
It’s the birthday of poet Stephen Dunn (books by this author), born in Forest Hills, New York (1939). He published more than 10 books of poetry before his collection Different Hours won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.
Dunn’s first love was basketball. He was a star on the 1962 Hofstra basketball team that went 25 and one on the year. They called him “Radar,” for his accurate jump shot. After college, he played professional basketball for the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Billies for a couple of years before giving up the sport.
Dunn found a job as a brochure writer for Nabisco, and for the next seven years, he rose through the ranks of the corporation. He started to worry though that he would get stuck in a job doing something he didn’t believe in, so he quit and moved to Spain with his wife and he started to write poetry.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®