Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for a performance of classic love songs, 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 bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Iola, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Wichita, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
by James A. Zoller
When I was a small child
when seat belts were a luxury, unsought,
my older brothers took the window seats
while I hung forward into the grownup space
my feet on the hump down the center of the floor.
This is how I learned what I needed
about survival, about us, about the natural order,
Father behind the wheel, Mother reading maps,
comfortable talk passing like fence posts
ordinary as sage brush.
Just a still point in the rushing panorama.
For all I knew I could be anything I might imagine
aiming along the hood’s raised spine
down the straight black highway
that opened into the future a mile a minute
reaching all the way to a horizon
always just a few more giant strides ahead.
“Wyoming, 1952” by James A. Zoller from Ash & Embers. Published by Cascade Books and used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. www.wipfandstock.com. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Thomas Jefferson (books by this author), third president of the United States, born on his father’s plantation at Albemarle County, on the western fringes of the Virginia settlement (1743). He wrote the Declaration of Independence at age 33, which includes the famous lines, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And yet, he enslaved more than 600 people over the course of his life.
It’s the birthday of Irish author, poet, and playwright Samuel Beckett (books by this author), born in Foxrock, a suburb of Dublin (1906), best known for his plays Waiting for Godot (1952), Endgame (1957), and Krapp’s Last Tape (1959). After college, he went to Paris, where he was James Joyce’s secretary for a time. He served in the French Resistance during World War II. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1969, but gave the money away to artists in need. He continued to live simply, in a working-class neighborhood of Montparnasse, in an apartment overlooking a prison.
It’s the birthday of the man who invented the game Scrabble. Alfred M. Butts was born in Poughkeepsie, New York (1899). He was an architect, but during the Depression he was out of a job and decided he’d invent an adult game. He classified games into three groups — chance, skill, and a combination of both — and decided that the last was the most promising. He said the hardest part of developing the game was assigning point values for letters. He went methodically through the dictionary and several popular newspapers and counted by hand the frequency of letter usage. He had trouble selling the game to major board game companies, but a friend of his decided to produce it on an assembly line, and it became a great success. He enjoyed playing Scrabble with his wife, who was a good opponent. He said, “Nina knows more words and spells better than I, but my architectural training helps me to plan better.” The game has been beloved by many writers, including Vladimir Nabokov, who had a special Russian version made for him and his wife, and he worked the game into his novel Ada or Ardor (1969).
It’s the birthday of Irish poet Seamus Heaney (books by this author), born in Castledawson, Ireland (1939). He was the oldest of nine siblings. His father was a cattle dealer, and Heaney grew up in a three-room thatched farm. He said, “[It was] an intimate, physical, creaturely existence in which the night sounds of the horse in the stable beyond one bedroom wall mingled with the sounds of adult conversation from the kitchen beyond the other.”
It’s the birthday of writer Eudora Welty (books by this author), born in Jackson, Mississippi (1909). She studied literature in college, and she wanted to pursue a career in writing or photography; but her father thought she needed a day job, so she moved to New York City to attend business school and study advertising. When she wasn’t in class, she went to vaudeville shows, toured art galleries, and listened to jazz in Harlem nightclubs. She spent hours wandering the city, taking photographs of ordinary people in the early days of the Depression. She wrote: “Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it. These were things a story writer needed to know.”
After she got her degree, Welty moved back to Jackson. She worked for a while at Jackson’s first radio station, writing the station’s newsletter. She spent two years as the Jackson society columnist for a Mississippi paper. In 1935, she was hired as a photographer for the Works Progress Administration. Welty and her friends played word games, went on picnics, drank bourbon, and listened to jazz on the phonograph. They loved to take the train down to New Orleans, but none of them had enough money to spend the night, so it was always a day trip. Welty took trips to New York to show her photos to publishers, but no one was interested, and neither were gallery owners — the only place she managed to get a show was at a camera shop. She felt that the Depression was less obvious in Mississippi than other places, since it was such a poor state to begin with.
In 1936, Welty sent a story called “Death of a Traveling Salesman” to a literary magazine, and it was accepted. She said, “I had received the shock of having touched, for the first time, on my real subject: human relationships
She wrote many stories and novels, including The Golden Apples (1949), The Ponder Heart (1954), The Optimist’s Daughter (1972), and Moon Lake and Other Stories (1980), as well as her best-selling memoir One Writer’s Beginnings (1984). She died in 2001, at the age of 92.
She said, “I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®