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
March 4 in Kent, OH 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
Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 11 in Joliet, IL Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 10 in Ottumwa Iowa Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
by Connie Wanek
In our teens we all bought girdles
with rubber knobs to hold up our stockings.
We wiggled into them, our “foundations.”
So many things look absurd from a distance
that people still take seriously,
like whether there’s a Heaven for pets.
What ever happened to my girdle?
One day I peeled it off for the last time
and all hell broke loose.
“Girdle” by Connie Wanek, from Rival Gardens. © University of Nebraska Press, 2016. (buy now)
Today is Earth Day. On April 22, 1970 the US government formed the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air, the Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts.
It’s the birthday of Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (books by this author), born in Königsberg, Prussia in 1724. He is famous for his single moral obligation, the “Categorical Imperative”: namely, that we should judge our actions by whether or not we would want everyone else to act the same way.
He wrote, “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe […] the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
It’s the birthday of poet Louise Glück (books by this author), born in New York City (1943). Her father was a Hungarian immigrant who helped invent the X-Acto knife. Even as a young girl she wanted to be a poet. She had a tough adolescence — she didn’t fit in with her peers and she struggled with anorexia. Her parents took her out of high school and put her into psychoanalysis. At first she was afraid to go because she was worried that the doctor would “cure” her to such a degree that she would lose her creative drive. Instead, she said that psychoanalysis was “one of the great experiences of my life. It helps me to live and it taught me to think.”
She dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College after just six weeks. She said, “It wasn’t a confident dismissal of a ritual I didn’t need or had bohemian contempt for. I was, at eighteen, too advanced in neurosis to manage life outside my bedroom.” Instead, over the next few years, she took classes at Columbia’s School of General Studies, studying with the poets Léonie Adams and Stanley Kunitz.
She published her first book, Firstborn (1968). The critics loved it, and it won the Academy of American Poets Prize. The critical acclaim earned her job offers to teach at various institutions, but Glück was convinced that to be a real poet she shouldn’t teach — that it would compromise her creative drive. Instead she worked as a secretary, but even so, she struggled with writer’s block for years.
For two years she spent a lot of time gardening, obsessively reading flower catalogs and listening to Mozart’s Don Giovanni, but not writing at all. One day she was walking around her garden when she had the thought that she could write a poem narrated by a flower. She did, and a couple of days later she wrote another, and eventually those poems became a book: The Wild Iris (1992). It won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 2003, she was named poet laureate. She said, “To my surprise I didn’t hesitate, even though I can’t say I was unambivalently delighted. I have very little taste for public forums [… but] I thought my life needed to be disturbed and surprised.”
Her collected poems were published in 2012 as Poems: 1962–2012. She said:
“The thing that surprised me was how big the book was, because for most of my life, I’ve felt I wasn’t writing. Hitting my head against a wall, raging and raving to my friends because my mind is blank. Or dead. But the book was so large. It was a quite marvelous feeling — that my current sense of failure might not be so reliable.”
Her other books include Ararat (1990), Meadowlands (1997), Averno (2006), and Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014). A new collection, due out this year, Winter Recipes from the Collective: Poems, is available for pre-order now. She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2020.
She said, “Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you’ve no longer been bested by these events.”
He started out writing satirical plays — 25 of them in about 10 years. But his plays were so critical of the government that they were one of the reasons the government passed the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737, which demanded that every play be approved and licensed by the government before it was performed. Like many other writers, Fielding simply stopped writing plays. He became a barrister, and that might have been the end of his literary career, if the novelist Samuel Richardson hadn’t published his epistolary novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740).
It’s the birthday of Russian-born novelist and critic Vladimir Nabokov (1899) (books by this author), best known for his novel Lolita (1955), about a lecherous man named Humbert Humbert who has an indecent relationship with a 12-year-old girl he nicknames Lolita.
Nabokov said, “I don’t fish, cook, dance, endorse books, sign declarations, eat oysters, get drunk, go to analysis, or take part in any demonstrations. I’m a mild old gentleman, very kind.”
Lolita is now considered to be a masterpiece of satire and style.
Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to an aristocratic family. His father was a lawyer, politician, and activist. The family home was opulent, with a lavish library. Nabokov grew up trilingual, fluent in English, French, and Russian. His family fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution and settled in England where Nabokov studied at Cambridge under a scholarship for sons of prominent Russians in exile. Nabokov’s father was later assassinated during a political rally in Berlin (1922).
He arrived in America in 1940. He taught in America at Wellesley and Cornell and became a U.S. citizen, saying, “I’m as American as April in Arizona.”
Nabokov wrote standing up, at a lectern, taking careful notes on index cards, which he then arranged in order and gave to his wife, Véra, who typed them out into manuscript form. Véra also served as his manager, bookkeeper, and agent. He thought her the best-humored woman he’d ever met and once wrote to her, “You turn my life into something light, amazing, rainbowed.”
Upon his death in 1977, he left a stack of index cards filled with text for his last novel, The Opposite of Laura. The original title was Dying Is Fun. His wife ignored his wishes to burn the cards and instead placed them in a Swiss bank vault, where they remained for three decades, until his son, Dmitri, decided to have them edited and published. The title was changed to The Original of Laura, and the book was published in 2009.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®