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+
What Beethoven’s Music Will Do to You
by Bill Holm
Listen long enough,
you’ll go stone deaf,
your body grow squat
from eating only
fish and brown sausages
washed down with hock.
Christen your sister-in-law
Queen of the Night, then
take her to court. Break
all the piano’s strings,
howl and mutter and brood.
It’ll do you no good.
He already wrote this music,
made it into the mirror
that always shows you
the back side of yourself
that you only imagined before.
Now you’ll want to write
King Lear, paint The Last Supper,
rebuild the Parthenon.
That’s how it always goes—
nose to nose with magnitude.
“What Beethoven’s Music Will Do to You” by Bill Holm, from Playing the Black Piano. © Milkweed Editions, 2004. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Tennessee Williams (books by this author), born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi (1911), author of more than 24 full-length plays, including Pulitzer Prize-winners A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).
He said, “I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.”
And, “A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”
And, “Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”
Fitzgerald was at the end of a series of failures and frustrations. He’d dropped out of Princeton in 1917 because of poor grades, spent time in the Army during WWI and never saw combat or went overseas, had a New York advertising job that he hated, and his novel had been rejected. When southern belle Zelda Sayre broke off their engagement because she was afraid he couldn’t support her, he spent a week drowning his sorrows. He said, “I was in love with a whirlwind, so when the girl threw me over, I went home and finished my novel.”
The publication of This Side of Paradise on this day in 1920, made Fitzgerald famous almost overnight, and a week later he married Zelda Sayre in New York.
It’s the birthday of Robert Frost (1874) (books by this author). Born in San Francisco, he moved to Massachusetts when he was 11. He struggled a long time to become a successful poet. He was 39 when he published his first collection of poems, A Boy’s Will (1913), and it was a major success.
His style was out of fashion almost from the beginning — he was interested in the traditional forms of rhyme and meter, while his contemporaries such as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and T. S. Eliot were writing in modern free verse.
His early years were often rough. His father was a heavy drinker and died of tuberculosis when Frost was twelve years old, leaving the family impoverished. He had to drop out of college during his first year to work, and tried unsuccessfully to publish poetry. Frost was seriously depressed; at one point he followed a trail into the Dismal Swamp and considered drowning himself. He walked all night through the swamp, but something made him decide to head back home. He worked as teacher for a few years, but he never enjoyed it.
Then, in 1900, he and his wife, Elinor, lost their first child. He fell into despair. That year, Frost tried his hand at raising poultry on 30-acre farm after his grandfather took pity on him and bought him a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, in hopes that it would give him a steady income. The experience shaped his poetic voice and provided inspiration for his most popular later poems, but he was a terrible farmer.
It’s the birthday of the poet who said “Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power.” That’s Gregory Corso (books by this author), born in New York City (1930). He was born on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. His parents were Italian teenagers, and a year after he was born, his mother went back to Italy and then his father was drafted in the army. The boy spent his childhood in a series of orphanages, foster homes, New York jails, and even the Bellevue Hospital for “observation.” When he was 16, he went to prison for three years for stealing food from a restaurant, and not long after his release in 1950, he met poet Allen Ginsberg in a Greenwich Village bar. Corso had done a lot of reading while in prison, and had started writing some poems himself; Ginsberg introduced him to more experimental forms. Corso became one of the leading poets of the Beat movement: in Ginsberg’s words, “an awakener of youth.”
In his poem “Writ on the Steps of Puerto Rican Harlem,” Corso wrote: “I learned life were no dream/learned truth deceived/Man is not God/Life is a century/Death an instant.”
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