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+
My Ancestral Home
by Louis Jenkins
We came to a beautiful little farm. From photos I’d seen
I knew this was the place. The house and barn were
painted in the traditional Falu red, trimmed with white.
It was nearly midsummer, the trees and grass, lush green.
When we arrived the family was gathered at a table on the
lawn for coffee and fresh strawberries. Introductions were
made all around, Grandpa Sven, Lars-Olaf and Marie, Eric
and Gudren, Cousin Inge and her two children … It made
me think of a Carl Larsen painting. But, of course, it was
all modern, the Swedes are very up-to-date, Lars-Olaf was
an engineer for Volvo, and they all spoke perfect English,
except for Grandpa, and there was a great deal of laughter
over my attempts at Swedish. We stayed for a long time
laughing and talking, it was late in the day but the sun was
still high. I felt a wonderful kinship. It seemed to me that
I had known these people all my life, they even looked
like family back in the States. But as it turned out we had
come to the wrong farm. Lars-Olaf said, “I think I know
your people, they live about three miles from here. If you
like I could give them a call.” I said that no, that it wasn’t
necessary, this was close enough.
“My Ancestral Home” by Louis Jenkins, from Where Your House Is Now: New and Selected Poems. Nodin Press, © 2019. Reprinted with permission (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Scottish poet and journalist Kate Clanchy (books by this author), born in Glasgow (1965). She’s the author of the poetry collections: Slattern (1995), Samarkand (1999), and Newborn (2004). She’s also written several radio plays for the BBC. In 2008 she published a memoir, What Is She Doing Here?: A Refugee’s Story. When she was asked in an interview what she thought the role of the poet was in today’s society, she said: “What are we for? Nobody cares about us, I think. I think probably we’re for what we’ve always been for: recording intimate experience and speaking for people. It’s not about public utterance, I don’t think. When was poetry about that? People say Dryden and Pope. Maybe.”
Today is the birthday of novelist Michael Cunningham (1952) (books by this author), born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised near Pasadena, California. It was his novel The Hours (1999) that launched him to fame. It’s the story of three women in different times and places, and one of them is Virginia Woolf. The women are all tied together by the novel Mrs. Dalloway, one of Cunningham’s favorite books and the first one he fell in love with. He said: “When I was 15, I read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway because a girl on whom I had a crush threw it at me and said something like, ‘Why don’t you read this and try to be less stupid?’ I did read it and, although I remained pretty much as stupid as I’d been before, it was a revelation to me. I hadn’t known, until then, that you — that anyone — could do such things with language; I’d never seen sentences of such complexity, musicality, density, and beauty. I remember thinking, ‘Hey, she was doing with language something like what Jimi Hendrix does with a guitar.’ Mrs. Dalloway made me into a reader, and it was only a matter of time until I became a writer.”
Today is the birthday of the “March King,” John Philip Sousa, born in Washington, D.C., in 1854. He began studying music when he was six, and over the course of his life, he studied voice, violin, flute, piano, trombone, cornet, baritone, and alto horn, as well as composition. When he was 13, he tried to run away from home and join a circus band, prompting his father to enlist him in the United States Marine Band as an apprentice musician. He published his first composition in 1872, at the age of 18, and was conducting a Broadway orchestra — for Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore — by the time he was 21. He went back to the Marine Band in 1880, this time as its leader, a position he held for 12 years. During his tenure, he composed “Semper Fidelis,” which became the official march of the United States Marine Corps.
He composed many kinds of music, including suites, fantasies, humoresques, and dances; he even composed several university fight songs, operettas, and other vocal pieces. It’s his marches he’s remembered for, though. On Christmas Day, 1896, he composed one of his best beloved marches, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” It was named the official march of the United States by an act of Congress. Besides his skills as a composer and conductor, he was also a fine marksman, and is enshrined in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame biography includes the following quote: “Let me say that just about the sweetest music to me is when I call, ‘pull,’ the old gun barks, and the referee in perfect key announces, ‘dead’.” He wrote several articles about trapshooting; he also wrote a full-length autobiography and three novels.
He was not a fan of the new recording industry and all its technology and spoke adamantly against it at a Congressional hearing in 1906: “When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today, you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®