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+
Tango for Ellie
by Joyce Sutphen
The music begins—
string bass and drums,
and a piano.
The steps go like this:
slow, slow, quick-quick, slow.
For now, your partner
is the moon, and
just for this night your hair
is black and full of stars.
The melody is steady as
rain, sweet as birdsong—a
a little something
you will carry in your ear
when you leave us
“Tango for Ellie” by Joyce Sutphen. © 2019 Joyce Sutphen. Reprinted with permission of the poet. (books by this author)
It’s the birthday of writer Manly Hall (books by this author), born in Peterborough, Ontario (1901). He was fascinated by the occult and he traveled all over lecturing. He wrote quite a few books, and he is most famous for The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy (1928). It took him six years to write the book, and during that period he worked for a while on Wall Street, which he hated. He wrote: “I felt strongly moved to explore the problems of humanity, its origin and destiny, and I spent a number of quiet hours in the New York Public Library tracing the confused course of civilization. … Translations of classical authors could differ greatly, but in most cases the noblest thoughts were eliminated or denigrated. Those more sincere authors whose knowledge of ancient languages was profound were never included as required reading, and scholarship was based largely upon the acceptance of a sterile materialism.” So he translated and interpreted the texts himself, and wrote his magnum opus.
It’s the birthday of poet Wilfred Owen (books by this author), born in Shropshire, England (1893). When he was young, his family was well-off, living in a house owned by his grandfather, a prominent citizen. But then his grandpa died, and it turned out that the old man was broke, and the family had to leave and move into working-class lodgings in an industrial town.
He started writing poems as a boy, and he was good at literature and science, but he didn’t do well enough on his exams to get a scholarship at a university. He enlisted to fight in World War I, and he became a lieutenant. In 1917, he was wounded, diagnosed with shell shock, and sent to a hospital to recuperate. There he met another soldier diagnosed with shell shock, Siegfried Sassoon, who was an established poet and mentored Owen. At the hospital, Owen wrote many of his most famous poems, including “Dulce et Decorum Est” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” He was one of the first poets to depict the horrifying realities of war, instead of writing glorified, nationalistic poems.
But the next year, he went back to fight, and he was killed in battle at the age of 25. Two years later, Poems of Wilfred Owen (1920) was published.
It’s the birthday of French poet Stéphane Mallarmé (books by this author), born in Paris (1842). He supported himself — and, once married, his wife and family — by working as a schoolteacher, though he didn’t enjoy the work. He began publishing his poems in magazines in 1862, when he was 20 years old. He regularly hosted salons at his home, where writers met to discuss literature and philosophy. Regular attendees included W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Verlaine, and Paul Valéry.
He said: “There is nothing but beauty — and beauty has only one perfect expression, Poetry. All the rest is a lie.”
It’s the birthday of novelist John Updike (books by this author), born in Reading, Pennsylvania (1932). He went to Harvard, where he majored in English and drew cartoons for the Harvard Lampoon (he also wrote the majority of each issue). After graduation, he got married, sold his first short story to The New Yorker, and headed off to England with his wife, Mary E. Pennington. In England, Updike studied painting at Oxford University and continued to send poems and stories to The New Yorker. His work impressed E.B. and Katharine White — E.B. wrote for The New Yorker and Katharine was its fiction editor. While they were vacationing in England they visited Updike and offered him a job writing the magazine’s “Talk of the Town” column. The Updikes moved back to America with their daughter, and he went to work.
His first “Talk of the Town” column was so good that the editor immediately promoted him. After that, his pieces were published verbatim instead of edited, and he earned $200 per story instead of $100.
After two years at The New Yorker, Updike and his wife had another child, and they decided to leave the city for a 17th-century house in the small town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
By 1959, Updike was just five years out of Harvard, but already he had published more than a hundred pieces in The New Yorker and finished three books: a novel, The Poorhouse Fair (1959); a book of poetry, The Carpentered Hen (1958); and a book of stories, The Same Door (1959). That same year, he began the novel Rabbit, Run (1960), which he followed with the sequels Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1990).
Updike wrote more than 50 books, including 22 novels. His books include Couples (1968), Too Far to Go (1979), The Witches of Eastwick (1984), In the Beauty of the Lilies (1996), and Terrorist (2006).
He said, “No amount of learned skills can substitute for the feeling of having a lot to say, of bringing news. Memories, impressions, and emotions from your first 20 years on earth are most writers’ main material; little that comes afterward is quite so rich and resonant. By the age of 40, you have probably mined the purest veins of this precious lode; after that, continued creativity is a matter of sifting the leavings.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®