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+
On the Captivity of Babies
by Margaret Hasse
Now that winter’s halfway here,
leaves swirl coldly
and babies aren’t seen much
except in the captivity of nurseries
slumbering with their hands
drawn into roses.
Babies are unto themselves,
a little sub-culture, none of whom suspects
how many other babies are being held
all over the world.
Babies escape slowly
from the little pens, the seatbelts,
the restraining arms.
It’s brilliant. Few notice
how tricky babies are.
On occasion, an aunt might fix
a BB sharp eye on the little one,
and fire, “My how you’ve grown!”
The escaping baby feels very uncomfortable.
Babies enter the world impeccable and wise.
They leave their little prisons,
put nakedness in abeyance,
take on the clothes of the world,
spend a long time trying to locate
a perfect love
that resembles their first.
From time to time, they achieve glimpses.
As when an aging baby
late for a business appointment
sits dreamily in his car,
cigarette’s blue smoke
lingering in curlicues.
Before him a large leaf
shoved by the windshield wipers, is waving.
Or when a woman who has never run
to breathlessness, does so.
Amazed she does not burst,
she draws in large packages of air,
thinks of air as the new blood.
“On the Captivitiy of Babies” by Margaret Hasse from Stars Above, Stars Below © Nodin Press, 2018. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of theologian Martin Luther, (books by this author) born on this day in Eisleben, Germany, in 1483. He was a devout monk who frequently punished himself to atone for his sins, whipping himself or lying in the snow all night long. But he became disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. He finally decided that the answer was in the Bible itself, which said that salvation came from personal faith, not from participating in the Church and paying for indulgences. So he wrote up his attack of the Church and published his 95 Theses, and since the printing press had recently been invented, his theses were reproduced and read all over Europe.
Luther’s ideas and his writing led to the Protestant Reformation. But toward the end of his life, he was so overwhelmed by the scope of the revolution he had caused that he stayed out of the limelight, at home in Germany, raising a family, gardening, and playing music.
On this day in 1973, school officials in Drake, North Dakota, burned copies of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut (books by this author) had served in WWII, and he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner in Dresden when the Allies bombed the city. For years, he tried to find a way to tell his story. Meanwhile, he went to graduate school in anthropology, worked at General Electric, got married and had three kids and adopted three more, and struggled to find his voice as a writer. His stories kept falling flat — too serious and straightforward. But finally he wrote his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, which was published in 1969. It was extremely popular and for the most part it got great reviews, but it has been banned many times, for being obscene, violent, and for its unpatriotic description of the war.
In 1973, a 26-year-old high school English teacher assigned Slaughterhouse-Five to his students, and most of them loved it, thought it was the best book they had read in a long time. But one student complained to her mom about the obscene language, and that mom took it to the principal, and the school board voted that it should be not only confiscated from the students (who were only a third of their way through the book), but also burned. Many of the students didn’t want to give up their books, so the school searched all their lockers and took them, and then threw the books into the school’s burner. While the school board was at it, they decided to burn Deliverance by James Dickey and a short-story anthology.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to one of the members of the school board, and he said:
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. […]
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. […]
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the education of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books — books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®