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+
Places I Have Heard the Ocean
by Faith Shearin
In a cat’s throat, in a shell I hold
to my ear — though I’m told
this is the sound of my own
blood. I have heard the ocean
in the city: cars against
the beach of our street. Or in
the subway, waiting for a train
that carries me like a current.
In my bed: place of high and low
tide or in my daughter’s skates,
rolling over the sidewalk.
Ocean in the trees when they
fill their heads with wind.
Ocean in the rise and fall:
lungs of everyone I love.
“Places I Have Heard the Ocean” by Faith Shearin, from Moving the Piano. © Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the anniversary of two historic disasters.
On this day in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. It was the first presidential assassination in American history. Lincoln was shot and killed by a 26-year-old actor named John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln’s bodyguard had gone next door to the saloon for a drink.
Shortly before midnight on this date in 1912 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The ship was on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. More than 1,500 people drowned in the 30-degree water. The passengers on the lifeboats were close enough to hear people in the water crying out for help, but only two lifeboats returned to rescue drowning people. The others feared getting pulled in by the suction created by the sinking ship. The liner Californian, less than 20 miles away, could have saved most of the passengers had its radio operator been on duty to hear the distress calls.
It’s the birthday of the woman who taught the blind and deaf child Helen Keller how to communicate: Anne Sullivan, born in Agawam, Massachusetts (1866). She was the oldest child of Irish immigrants who left Ireland during the Potato Famine. She had a terrible fever that rendered her blind as a small child. She went to the Perkins Institute for the Blind and then underwent a series of surgeries to correct her vision, and eventually her eyesight improved. Shortly after she graduated from the Perkins Institute, she heard that the father of a young blind and deaf girl was looking for a governess. And so Anne Sullivan became the governess for Helen Keller, a six-year-old whom Anne found to be sullen, stubborn, and also very intelligent.
Sullivan taught Helen by spelling out the names of objects, using the sign language alphabet, into the girl’s palm. The first word that Helen Keller learned was “doll,” and the second was “water,” which Sullivan spelled out while pouring running water over the girl’s hand.
With Sullivan’s assistance, Helen Keller went to the Perkins Institute, then to a prep school, and then to Radcliffe College. Keller and Sullivan made the rounds on the lecture circuit, raising money for blind soldiers returning home from World War I. They went to Hollywood, where Helen Keller starred in a movie about herself. More recently, the story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller has been turned into the play and movie The Miracle Worker.
It was on this day in 1939 that John Steinbeck (books by this author) published The Grapes of Wrath. The novel tells the story of three generations of the Joad family, who lose their farm in Oklahoma and set off across the country for the paradise of California, only to encounter extreme poverty and corrupt corporations trying to make a profit off them. He wrote the novel at an incredible rate — about two thousand words a day — in a tiny outhouse that had just enough room for a bed, a desk, a gun rack, and a bookshelf. He finished it in about five months. When he was done, he wasn’t very satisfied with it: He wrote in his journal, “It’s just a run-of-the-mill book, and the awful thing is that it is absolutely the best I can do.” And he warned his publisher that it wouldn’t be very popular.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®