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 Grandmother’s Ghost
by James Wright
She skimmed the yellow water like a moth,
Trailing her feet across the shallow stream;
She saw the berries, paused and sampled them
Where a slight spider cleaned his narrow tooth.
Light in the air, she fluttered up the path,
So delicate to shun the leaves and damp,
Like some young wife, holding a slender lamp
To find her stray child, or the moon, or both.
Even before she reached the empty house,
She beat her wings ever so lightly, rose,
Followed a bee where apples blew like snow;
And then, forgetting what she wanted there,
Too full of blossom and green light to care,
She hurried to the ground, and slipped below.
“My Grandmother’s Ghost” by James Wright from Above the River: The Complete Poems © 1990 by Anne Wright. Published by Wesleyan University Press and reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1964 that the Swedish Academy announced that the Nobel Prize in Litterature would go to Jean Paul Sartre. He declined the prize, but the academy decided to award it to him anyway. He never accepted the prize.
It’s the birthday of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (books by this author), born in Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire, England (1772). He was a very ambitious young man, who lectured on religion, wrote journalism, and single-handedly tried to launch his own magazine. But he was exhausting himself and falling into a depression when he was introduced to the poet William Wordsworth. They met only briefly in 1795, but they struck up a correspondence and began exchanging poems. Wordsworth encouraged Coleridge to stop writing journalism and focus on poetry, and Coleridge took the advice.
That first year of their friendship was the most productive period of Coleridge’s life. They both liked to compose their poetry while walking, so they took long walks together throughout that summer, though Wordsworth preferred to stay on the path while Coleridge liked rough terrain. That winter, they spent several days hiking along the coast, and to pass the time, they made up a gothic ballad about a tragic sea voyage. Coleridge became obsessed with the poem when he got home, filling it with images from nightmares he’d had since he was a kid. It became his masterpiece, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798), the story of a sailor who brings a curse on his ship when he kills a bird.
Within a few years of writing “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge’s life began to fall apart. He became addicted to opium, which ruined his friendship with Wordsworth. He had a habit of starting enormous projects that he could not then finish, including a 1,400-page work of geography, a two-volume history of English prose, a translation of Faust, a musical about Adam and Eve, a history of logic, a history of German metaphysics, a study of witchcraft, and an encyclopedia.
It was on this day in 1879 that Thomas Edison finally struck upon the idea for a workable electric light. People had been trying to make electric lights since the 1820s to replace kerosene and gas lamps, but they had chosen the wrong material for the filament: platinum. And Edison tried carbonized cotton thread, carbon filament that worked much better. He later improved the design with a tungsten filament that lasted longer and glowed brighter.
It’s the birthday of science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin (books by this author), born in Berkeley, California (1929). Her mother, Theodora Kroeber, was a psychologist and writer. Her father, Alfred Kroeber, was the first person to receive a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University—he’s been called the “Dean of American anthropologists.” He specialized in researching Native American cultures, and so Ursula grew up with Native American myths.
When she was young, over the course of 10 years, she wrote five novels, none of which were published. Publishers in the 1950s thought her writing was too “remote.” So she began to write science fiction and fantasy. She published more than 100 short stories, 21 novels, 12 children’s books, six volumes of poetry, and four volumes of translation. She’s best known for her Earthsea books, a fantasy series that takes place in a world populated by wizards and dragons. She also wrote the Hainish Cycle — science fiction novels set in an imaginary universe where the residents are genderless.
An interviewer once asked her advice for writers, and she replied: “I am going to be rather hard-nosed and say that if you have to find devices to coax yourself to stay focused on writing, perhaps you should not be writing what you’re writing. And if this lack of motivation is a constant problem, perhaps writing is not your forte. I mean, what is the problem? If writing bores you, that is pretty fatal. If that is not the case, but you find that it is hard going and it just doesn’t flow, well, what did you expect? It is work; art is work.”
Ursula K Le Guin died January 22, 2018, but her works continue to be published. A non-fiction collection Dreams Must Explain Themselves and Ursula K Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, have both been released posthumously.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®