Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Ode to Chocolate
by Barbara Crooker
I hate milk chocolate, don’t want clouds
of cream diluting the dark night sky,
don’t want pralines or raisins, rubble
in this smooth plateau. I like my coffee
black, my beer from Germany, wine
from Burgundy, the darker, the better.
I like my heroes complicated and brooding,
James Dean in oiled leather, leaning
on a motorcycle. You know the color.
Oh, chocolate! From the spice bazaars
of Africa, hulled in mills, beaten,
pressed in bars. The cold slab of a cave’s
interior, when all the stars
have gone to sleep.
Chocolate strolls up to the microphone
and plays jazz at midnight, the low slow
notes of a bass clarinet. Chocolate saunters
down the runway, slouches in quaint
boutiques; its style is je ne sais quoi.
Chocolate stays up late and gambles,
likes roulette. Always bets
on the noir.
Barbara Crooker, “Ode to Chocolate” from More. © 2010 Barbara Crooker, published by C & R Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman (books by this author), born Ellen Holtz in Newton, Massachusetts (1941). Goodman studied history at Radcliffe and in 1963 she landed her first job — as a researcher for Newsweek. In those days all of the magazine’s journalists were men; women were only hired as researchers and were only ever noticed if they made a mistake. But she discovered that she liked journalism. She went to work for the Detroit Free Press in 1965 and the Boston Globe in 1967. In 1974 she began writing the syndicated column that earned her the Pulitzer for Distinguished Commentary in 1980. She wrote about civil rights and social change.
She published her last column on New Year’s Day, 2010. She wrote:
“I began writing my column when my daughter was 7, and I leave as my grandson turns 7. I began writing about Gerald Ford and end writing about Barack Obama. I began on a typewriter, transmitting columns on a Xerox Telecopier. Now I have a MacBook on my desk and an iPhone in my pocket.
“I celebrated my lucky midlife marriage in these pages, sent my daughter to college, welcomed my grandchildren, said farewell to my mother. I upheld Thanksgiving traditions in this space and celebrated them with a family that evolved far beyond my grandparents’ idea of tradition. I wrote about values and pushed back against those who believe they own the patent on this word.
In 2012, in her encore career as a “recovering journalist” Ellen Goodman founded a nonprofit organization The Conversation Project, a public engagement campaign to ensure that people’s wishes for end of life care are expressed and respected.
“It has been a great gift to make a living trying to make sense out of the world around me. That is as much a disposition as an occupation.”
On this date in 1881, Spelman College was founded in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. Founded by two white teachers from New England, Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles, Spelman was originally known as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary and it’s the oldest private liberal arts college for black women in the United States. Packard and Giles founded the school with a gift of $100 from the First Baptist Church of Medford, Massachusetts. They had eleven students, many of them former slaves and most of them illiterate; by the end of the first term, they had 80 students. They went back to Massachusetts to try to get more money. There, they met John D. Rockefeller. He was impressed with their vision. His wife, Laura Spelman, and her family had long been involved in the abolitionist movement. Rockefeller donated generously to the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary and it was renamed Spelman Seminary — later College — in his wife’s honor.
On this day in 1945, the U.S. Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, a camp that was judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners. It had been established in 1937 and about 56,000 prisoners died there. It was the first camp to be liberated by U.S. troops at the end of World War II. As American forces closed in on Buchenwald, the Gestapo telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was going to blow up the camp and destroy any evidence of its existence — including its inmates. The camp administrators had already fled in fear of the Allies and a prisoner answered the phone, pretending to be a camp official. He persuaded headquarters that explosives would not be needed because the camp had already been destroyed. Among those saved by the Americans was Elie Wiesel who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
It’s the birthday of poet Mark Strand (books by this author), born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada (1934), though he spent much of his adolescence in South and Central America. His father worked for Pepsi-Cola and moved the family from Cuba to Peru to Mexico. Strand once said, “I never found my own place. I really come from nowhere.” For a long time, he spoke English with a heavy French accent.
Strand’s parents wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer but he wanted to be a painter, so he enrolled in the Yale School of Art. He’d been painting since he was 13 when he did a self-portrait after copying figures from a book on Donatello, the Italian Renaissance sculptor. Strand was a good student at Yale, though poor, and he worked as a waiter and delivered laundry to pay his way. He also started to read poetry, mostly Wallace Stevens, which led him to enroll in English courses. His professors encouraged his writing and he decided to become a poet. After Yale, Strand went to Italy and studied 19th-century Italian poetry. “I was never much good with language as a child,” he said. “Believe me, the idea that I would someday become a poet would have come as a complete shock to everyone in my family.” He wrote steadily during the 1960s, enjoying the wild atmosphere that came with being an artist. Some people complained his poems were too intense and dark but he dismissed his critics, saying, “I find them evenly lit.”
Strand’s books include Sleeping With One Eye Open (1964), The Continuous Life (1990), and Almost Invisible (2012). He won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Blizzard of One: Poems (1998) and even served as poet laureate for the United States, though he was uncomfortable with the post. He said, “It’s too close to the government. It’s too official.”
Mark Strand died in 2014. In his last years, he stopped writing poetry and returned to art, mostly making collages by hand.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®