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+
Dear Friend Since Childhood
by Hayden Saunier
Let’s set the scene
one hour before sunset
memory’s golden hour
light shot across the field
bright haze of pollen
swallows dropping in and out of sky
above the pasture’s
twenty-seven different shades
of iridescent green
we counted once––
we counted everything.
Let’s spread those blankets out
across tall grasses
where our mothers sit
peeling waxy opaque paper
from chicken salad sandwiches
or shelling hard boiled eggs
with oval fingernails
their beautiful hands
so fluid and cool––offering
each other coffee from
a Scotch plaid thermos.
Quick, dam up the creek bed
make a shallow pool
the way we used to do
and lie back in the water
kick hard against the dam
of earth and stone
one kick was all it ever took––
and then let’s try to love
the way the current tries
to carry us away.
“Dear Friend Since Childhood” by Hayden Saunier from How to Wear this Body. © Terrapin Books, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Isak Dinesen, (books by this author) born Karen Dinesen on a rural estate called Rungsted near Copenhagen, Denmark (1885). She came from a wealthy family of landowners and writers. As a girl, she loved listening to stories about Danish mythology. She started writing at an early age, and one of the first stories she published was about a woman who has a love affair with a ghost.
She and her husband then moved to Kenya, where they started a coffee plantation. She fell in love with Africa, and she said, “The grass was me, and the air, the distant visible mountains were me, the tired oxen were me.” But she and her husband separated in 1925. Alone and unhappy on the coffee plantation, she said, “I began in the evenings to write stories, fairy-tales and romances, that would take my mind a long way off, to other countries and times.” After a swarm of locusts and a drought, she finally had to sell the farm to a local developer.
But just as she was leaving Africa for good, Dinesen sent some of her stories to a publisher, and they were published as the collection Seven Gothic Tales (1934). The book was full of wild, magical stories about such things as a group of people telling jokes while trying to survive a flood, and a woman who exchanges her soul with an ape. Dinesen wrote, “Truth is for tailors and shoemakers. … I, on the contrary, have always held that the Lord has a penchant for masquerades.”
According to legend, it was on this day in 1397 that Geoffrey Chaucer (books by this author) recited The Canterbury Tales to the court of Richard II. Although there is no evidence that this actually happened, it is easy to imagine the scene, in part because of a famous painting of Chaucer reciting his poetry to the court, painted in the early 15th century. The prologue of Canterbury Tales opens with the famous lines:
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour.
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is one of the most famous examples of Middle English. Translated into modern English, it’s something like:
When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower.
It’s the birthday of novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder (books by this author), born in Madison, Wisconsin (1897). He won his first Pulitzer Prize when he was 30 years old for his second novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927). In 1934, he went to a lecture by Gertrude Stein in Chicago, and he was fascinated by her. She was 60 years old and he was in his 30s, but they were both dealing with sudden success — he from Bridge of San Luis Rey and his Pulitzer, she from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. He invited her to stay in his Chicago apartment during speaking tours, and despite their difference in age and writing styles, they became good friends and corresponded for the rest of Stein’s life.
It was The Making of Americans (1925) — Stein’s difficult, experimental, 900-page novel — that inspired Wilder’s most famous play, Our Town (1938). Like The Making of Americans, it traces the intertwining lives of two families, and Wilder used his own version of modernism — the set was minimal, and the play’s narrator was in direct conversation with the audience. But where The Making of Americans was a commercial failure and didn’t go over well with frustrated critics, Our Town was immediately popular — it was a big Broadway success, and Wilder won another Pulitzer Prize. Our Town has become one of the most-produced American plays.
In September of 1937, he wrote to Stein: “I can no longer conceal from you that I’m writing the most beautiful little play you can imagine. Every morning brings an hour’s increment to it and that’s all, but I’ve finished two acts already. It’s a little play with all the big subjects in it; and it’s a big play with all the little things of life lovingly impressed into it. And when I finish it next Friday, there’s another coming around the corner. Lope de Vega wrote three plays a week in his thirties and four plays a week in his forties and so I let these come as they like. This play is an immersion, immersion into a New Hampshire town. It’s called Our Town and its third act is based on your ideas, as on great pillars, and whether you know it or not, until further notice, you’re in a deep-knit collaboration already.”