St. Michael, MN
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JULY 4, 2021, 4:00 PM SUMMERFIELD AMPHITHEATER 4300 O’Day Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376 $42/$15 Outside concert FAQs In 2021 we are going bigger, better, bolder, and in the […]
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director July 2, 2021, 7:30 PM BIG TOP CHAUTAUQUA, BAYFIELD, WI Reserved $60/$52/$42 The Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a 900-seat music venue and performing arts center, located near […]
Stillwater, MN 6-30
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director June 30, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, AND SHOW […]
Just Added: Stillwater, MN 6-29
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JUST ADDED June 29, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, […]
Curse of the Charmed Life
by Kim Stafford
Things pretty much worked out for you—
you have what you need, and if you need more,
you have people ready and able to provide.
Sure, someday your luck will run out,
you’ll be helpless, then gone, and your people
will gather in your honor.
There will be music, and tears. People will
embrace—for you. There will be an odd
buoyancy, a chatter of kind words, blessing.
But the curse of this charm is exile
from the unlucky, how gifts make you
deaf to the sudden shout
of a man camped in the ravine,
make you blind to the dirty face
of a woman with a cardboard sign.
Without hunger, it’s easy to be heartless.
Without hurt, you are disabled. Without
the battering of bad luck, the pummeling
of lost hopes, the wounds of life without love,
of dark dreams that last past dawn, how can you
know what one life might do for another?
Kim Stafford, “Curse of the Charmed Life” from Singer Come From Afar. Copyright © 2021 by Kim Stafford. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Red Hen Press, www.redhen.org. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1800 that Congress established its own legislative library: the Library of Congress. As part of a legislative measure to move the government from Philadelphia to Washington, President John Adams approved spending $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress […] and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them.”
Congress ordered 740 books and three maps from London, and in just over a decade, the library had more than 3,000 items. During the War of 1812, the British attacked the Capitol and burned everything to the ground, including all the contents of the library. Former President Thomas Jefferson wrote from his home in Virginia, “I learn from the newspapers that the vandalism of our enemy has triumphed at Washington over science as well as the arts, by the destruction of the public library with the noble edifice in which it was deposited.” As a replacement, he offered to sell his personal library, which was considered the best in the country. Not everyone in Congress thought it was a good idea — Jefferson’s tastes were eclectic, and some legislators thought it was unnecessary to have books on art and science, or in foreign languages. Jefferson replied: “I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” In the end, they paid him $23,950 for 6,487 books.
Beginning in 1870, copyright law required that the Library of Congress receive copies of all new materials. After that, the library quickly outgrew its space at the Capitol, and in 1873 the government announced a contest to design plans for a new space. The resulting library, built in Italian Renaissance style, is now called the Thomas Jefferson building. Librarian of Congress (1825-1908), Ainsworth Spofford, declared it “the book palace of the American people,” and it was called “the largest, the costliest, and the safest” library in the world. Today the Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. It has more than 170 million items, including more than 39 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 73 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.
Carla Hayden is the current Librarian of Congress. In 2019 the library welcomed nearly 1.9 million onsite visitors and recorded 119.2 million visits and more than 520.8 million page views on the Library’s web properties.
It is the birthday of American novelist and short-story writer Judy Budnitz (books by this author), born in Atlanta, Georgia (1973). Her 1998 debut book, Flying Leap, was published when she was only 24. Budnitz’s stories have been described as “modern fables or fairy tales” in the vein of Franz Kafka. Her characters are ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances that stretch the bounds of reality. Her most recent book is If I told You Once (2020).
It’s the birthday of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (books by this author), born in London, England (1815). As a young man, he got a job in London as a postal clerk. He struggled to pay his bills, he had a series of unhappy love affairs, and nothing came of his writing. Then, in 1841, he was offered a transfer to Ireland, and he saw it as a chance to get away from the scene of his failures. In Ireland, Trollope developed a social life for the first time. He went hunting and he went to pubs, and he fell in love and got married, all within a few years. Once he had settled down to his new life, he began to write about a fictional county called Barsetshire.
In just 11 years, between 1855 and 1866, Trollope published six novels about the extended families and parishioners and civil service workers living in that imaginary county, novels such as The Warden (1855), Barchester Towers (1857), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1866), all of which were best-sellers.
For most of his writing life, he continued to work for the British postal service and even helped invent the street-corner mailbox. To turn out his novels, he woke up every morning at 4:00 a.m. and wrote for three hours, producing about a thousand words an hour. In less than 40 years, he published 47 novels, as well as many other books of essays and sketches. He said, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Today is the birthday of American detective novelist Sue Grafton (1940) (books by this author), born in Louisville, Kentucky. Grafton is the author of the best-selling series of “Alphabet” novels featuring tough-talking female private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Grafton began the series with A is for Alibi (1983) and has continued on ever since. She says the last book will be titled Z is for Zero. The Kinsey Millhone novels have been published in 28 countries in 28 languages. Grafton describes Kinsey Millhone as her alter ego, only “younger, smarter, and thinner.” When asked why she chose the genre of mystery, she said, “The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law, but people do get their just deserts.”
In N is for Noose (1998), Kinsey Millhone says:
“Get close to someone and the next thing you know, you’ve given them the power to wound, betray, irritate, abandon you, or bore you senseless. My general policy is to keep my distance, thus avoiding a lot of unruly emotion. In psychiatric circles, there are names for people like me.”
Sue Grafton died in December of 2017 not having finished her series. The last book she completed was Y is for Yesterday (2017). Her family has said the final book, Z is for Zero was not written and “as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®