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+
Here in the Time Between
by Jack Ridl
Here in the time between snow
and the bud of the rhododendron,
we watch the robins, look into
the gray, and narrow our view
to the patches of wild grasses
coming green. The pile of ashes
in the fireplace, haphazard sticks
on the paths and gardens, leaves
tangled in the ivy and periwinkle
lie in wait against our will. This
drawing near of renewal, of stems
and blossoms, the hesitant return
of the anarchy of mud and seed
says not yet to the blood’s crawl.
When the deer along the stream
look back at us, we know again
we have left them. We pull
a blanket over us when we sleep.
As if living in a prayer, we say
amen to the late arrival of red,
the stun of green, the muted yellow
at the end of every twig. We will
lift up our eyes unto the trees hoping
to discover a gnarled nest within
the branches’ negative space. And
we will watch for a fox sparrow
rustling in the dead leaves underneath.
Jack Ridl, “Here in Time Between” from Practicing to Walk Like a Heron. Copyright © 1993 Wayne State University Press, with the permission of Wayne State University Press. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of American activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta (1930). Huerta was born in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico, but raised in Stockton, California, deep in the San Joaquin Valley. Her father was a farmer and a state assemblyman; her mother ran a 70-room hotel that welcomed low-wage farm workers and their families, often immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines who spoke little English.
Huerta started out teaching elementary school. Many of her students were the children of farm workers. They lived in poverty and came to school hungry, which affected their ability to learn. Huerta decided something had to be done. She said, “I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach hungry children.”
Huerta created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960. The organization was effective in lobbying politicians to allow migrant workers without U.S. citizenship to receive public assistance and pensions. The AWA also lobbied for Spanish-language voting ballots and driver’s tests. Huerta met activist César Chávez in 1962 and the two joined forces to create the National Farm Workers Association (later United Farm Workers). The organization presided over the famous Delano grape strike, which began in 1965 and lasted five years. Huerta successfully implemented a national boycott of grapes, taking the plight of farmworkers to consumers. The farmers asked to receive the national minimum wage, which they won.
Huerta has been arrested 22 times and jailed. In 1988, while protesting the policies of presidential candidate George H.W. Bush, she was beaten so badly by San Francisco police that she was disabled for months.
In 2012 President Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Four elementary schools in California, one in Texas, and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado, are all named in honor of Huerta. Her advocacy for the low-wage worker has made her the subject of many corridos (ballads) in the Latino community.
Huerta is the mother of 11 children. She says, “What I’d like to share with people is that what we have to give to our children are values, not so much material, [but] a social conscience. You have to involve them at a very young age so they grow up knowing that this is something they can do that they have power to help people.”
Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby was published on this day in 1925. The title was not one Fitzgerald liked. He’d asked his editor, Maxwell Perkins, to change it to either Trimalchioor Gold-Hatted Gatsby just a month prior, but Perkins had advised him against both. Shortly after, Fitzgerald requested a change to Under the Red, White and Blue, but by then it was too late. Fitzgerald remained convinced that the title wasn’t a good one even after it was published; in hindsight, it’s hard to imagine the book carrying his previous suggestions — like Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, On the Road to West Egg, or The High-Bouncing Lover.
It’s the birthday of travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux (books by this author), who was born in Medford, Massachusetts, on this date in 1941. He enrolled in a pre-med degree program in college, thinking he might become a doctor of tropical medicine. He secretly wanted to be a writer, but thought that writing wasn’t manly because most writers weren’t paid well. “Money is masculinity,” he thought. But he took a creative writing course and he was hooked. After he graduated he joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Malawi and Uganda. And he wrote — mostly articles for American magazines, but also a number of novels. He met his first wife in Africa, and his first son was born there. Political instability prompted him to move his family to Singapore, where he decided he’d had enough of teaching. He moved to England and devoted himself full time to writing.
His first big success came with the publication of his 10th book, The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), which was about a four-month train trip from Britain to Japan. It became a best-seller and a travel-writing classic. Theroux retraced his steps many years later in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (2008). In 1981 he published The Mosquito Coast, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was made into a movie starring Harrison Ford (1986). His latest book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, was published in the fall of 2018.
It’s the birthday of writer Anne Lamott (books by this author), born in San Francisco in 1954. Lamott was an alcoholic and an addict in addition to being a novelist; she went to rehab, became a Christian, started teaching writing, and published a journal of the first year of her son’s life, Operating Instructions (1993), to great acclaim. Within a year she’d published Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994), a book known for giving advice to aspiring writers that’s both practical and wry.
“Mondays are not good writing days,” Lamott offers. “One has had all that freedom over the weekend, all that authenticity, all those dreamy dreams, and then your angry mute Slavic Uncle Monday arrives, and it is time to sit down at your desk.”
And she writes: “Nothing can break the mood of a piece of writing like bad dialogue. My students are miserable when they are reading an otherwise terrific story to the class and then hit a patch of dialogue that is so purple and expositional that it reads like something from a childhood play by the Gabor sisters […] I can see the surprise on my students’ faces, because the dialogue looked Okay on paper, yet now it sounds as if it were poorly translated from their native Hindi.”
Lamott’s latest book is called Almost Everything: Notes on Hope (2018).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®