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+
The Dogs in Dutch Paintings
by David Graham
How shall I not adore them, snoozing
right through the Annunciation? They inhabit
the outskirts of every importance, sprawl
dead center in each oblivious household.
They’re digging at fleas or snapping at scraps,
dozing with noble abandon while a boy
bells their tails. Often they present their rumps
in the foreground of some martyrdom.
What Christ could lean so unconcernedly
against a table leg, the feast above continuing?
Could the Virgin in her joy match this grace
as a hound sagely ponders an upturned turtle?
No scholar at his huge book will capture
my eye so well as the skinny haunches,
the frazzled tails and serene optimism
of the least of these mutts, curled
in the corners of the world’s dazzlement.
“The Dogs in Dutch Paintings” by David Graham from The Honey of Earth. Terrapin Books © 2019. Reprinted by permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who said, “I’ve always been convinced that my true profession is that of journalist.” That’s Gabriel García Márquez (books by this author), born in Aracataca, Colombia, on this day in 1927. He’s the author of one of the most important books in Latin American literature, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967).
He once said: “I learned a lot from James Joyce and Erskine Caldwell and of course from Hemingway … [but the] tricks you need to transform something which appears fantastic, unbelievable into something plausible, credible, those I learned from journalism. The key is to tell it straight. It is done by reporters and by country folk.’’
He learned to write short stories first from Kafka, and later from the American Lost Generation. He said that the first line of Kafka’s Metamorphosis “almost knocked [him] off the bed,” he was so surprised. In one interview, he quoted the first line (“As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect”) and told the interviewer, “When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories.”
One Hundred Years of Solitude begins: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
Márquez’s novels and novellas include The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981), and Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2004), the last book published before his death in 2014. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982.
It’s the birthday of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (books by this author), born in Durham, England (1806). She was the oldest of 12 siblings, an active girl who loved riding horses and participating in the leisurely social life of affluent country families. She was also extremely bright — she wrote poetry at age four, studied Greek at age 10, and wrote a Greek-style epic at age 12, which her father had privately printed. Soon after that, she began to suffer from a debilitating illness that was never diagnosed, with terrible headaches and spinal pain. The doctors prescribed morphine, which she took for the rest of her life.
At the age of 20, she published An Essay on Mind, with Other Poems (1826), and in it she wrote about metaphysics, history, science, and the tradition of poetry. She became more and more reclusive, especially after the death of her mother and one of her brothers. In 1844, she published the book Poems, which made her one of the most famous writers in England. By that time, she had spent several years rarely leaving her bedroom at her father’s house.
One of her many admirers was a younger, unknown poet named Robert Browning. After a mutual acquaintance assured him that Barrett liked his work too, Browning wrote her a fan letter and said: “I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart — and I love you too. Do you know I was once not very far from seeing — really seeing you?” Barrett wrote to an old friend: “I had a letter from Browning the poet last night which threw me into ecstasies.”
The two poets began a passionate courtship. They exchanged 574 letters in less than two years, and Browning visited Barrett often, despite her father’s intense disapproval. During this time, she wrote a series of love sonnets. Eventually, the two poets eloped to Italy and settled in Florence. She was 40 years old. These were good years for Barrett Browning — her health improved, she gave birth to a son, and she had a lively circle of friends, many of them writers or artists. She published her love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850).
Although she is best known today for her love sonnets, most of the work Barrett Browning wrote in Italy was devoted to issues of social justice. Her family had owned sugar plantations in Jamaica, which relied on slave labor, and she was a committed abolitionist; since slavery had been abolished in Britain, she focused her criticism on American slavery. She also wrote about the horrors of child labor.
The espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg began on this date in 1951. The chief witness for the prosecution was David Greenglass, Ethel’s brother who had been arrested in June 1950 and told authorities that he had been acting under direction from his brother-in-law. The information that Greenglass provided contributed to the Soviet Union’s successful development of an atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg was arrested in July 1950; Ethel was arrested a few weeks later.
Many left-leaning Americans believed that they had been wrongly accused, and spoke out angrily against the trial for many years after its conclusion. However, when the Cold War ended and the former Soviet Union made its records available to the West, it was proved that the Rosenbergs were indeed guilty.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®