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+
The Love a Life Can Show Below…
by Emily Dickinson
The Love a Life can show Below
Is but a filament, I know,
Of that diviner thing
That faints upon the face of Noon—
And smites the Tinder in the Sun—
And hinders Gabriel’s Wing—
‘Tis this—in Music—hints and sways—
And far abroad on Summer days—
Distils uncertain pain—
‘Tis this enamors in the East—
And tints the Transit in the West
With harrowing Iodine—
Then—flings in Paradise—
“The Love a Life Can Show Below…” by Emily Dickinson. Public Domain. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, born in Bologna, Italy, in 1874. He wasn’t a very good student, but he was interested in electricity and the work of Heinrich Hertz, who had pioneered the production and detection of electromagnetic or “radio” waves.
Marconi began building his own equipment in the attic and conducting experiments when he was 20 years old. He wanted to improve on wireless telegraph technology, to make it more practical and able to transmit over longer distances. In 1895, he moved his equipment outdoors and was able to transmit over a hill, at a distance of just under a mile. Six years later, he sent and received a signal across the Atlantic Ocean. The two radio operators aboard the Titanic were employees of Marconi’s corporation, and the British Postmaster General praised the new technology’s role in the rescue of survivors, saying, “Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi … and his marvelous invention.”
Credit for the invention of radio comes down to a series of patent battles, and Nikola Tesla was Marconi’s chief competitor. Tesla was ready to transmit a signal over 50 miles in 1895, but a fire destroyed his lab and all his work before he could carry out the test. Much of Marconi’s work was performed using 17 components patented by Tesla, but Marconi’s company had a higher profile, due in part to his family connections to the English aristocracy, and Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie were his backers. Tesla’s patents were overturned in favor of Marconi’s in 1904, and Marconi received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1911, but in 1943, the Supreme Court upheld Tesla’s original patent.
It’s the birthday of the poet and journalist James Fenton (books by this author), born in Lincoln, England (1949). His poetry collections include Put Thou Thy Tears Into My Bottle, 1969; and Manila Envelope, 1989.
He only decided to become a poet in college after he had dropped English literature as his major. He had decided he was more interested in anthropology, but then he happened to pick up a book of poems by W.H. Auden, and he was totally blown away. He later said, “I read Auden, and Auden was the hero, and for me in all sorts of different ways [he] still is.”
James Fenton said, “The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation” and “The lullaby is the spell whereby the mother attempts to transform herself back from an ogre to a saint.”
It’s the birthday of poet Ted Kooser (books by this author), born in Ames, Iowa (1939). He said, “I had a wonderfully happy childhood,” and “All this business about artists having to have terrible childhoods doesn’t play with me.”
He started writing poetry seriously as a teenager. He said, “I was desperately interested in being interesting. Poetry seemed a way of being different.” His first poem was published because his friends sent one of his poems to a teen magazine behind his back.
He wanted to be a writer, but he flunked out of graduate school. So he took the first job he was offered, at a life insurance company, and he worked there for 35 years. He said:
“I believe that writers write for perceived communities, and that if you are a lifelong professor of English, it’s quite likely that you will write poems that your colleagues would like; that is, poems that will engage that community. I worked every day with people who didn’t read poetry, who hadn’t read it since they were in high school, and I wanted to write for them.”
Every morning, he got up at 4:30, made a pot of coffee, and wrote until 7. Then he put on his suit and tie and went to work. By the time he retired in 1999, Kooser had published seven books of poetry, including Not Coming to Be Barked At (1976), One World at a Time (1985), and Weather Central (1994). He resigned himself to being a relatively unknown poet, but he continued to write every morning. Then, in 2004, he got a phone call informing him that he had been chosen as poet laureate of the United States. He said, “I was so staggered I could barely respond. The next day, I backed the car out of the garage and tore the rearview mirror off the driver’s side.” As the poet laureate, he started a free weekly column for newspapers called “American Life in Poetry.”
Kooser’s most recent collection is Kindest Regards (2018).
It’s the birthday of writer Howard R. Garis (books by this author), born in Binghamton, New York (1873). His most famous character is Uncle Wiggily, a gentlemanly old rabbit who always wears a suit and a silk top hat. Garis was a reporter for the Newark Evening News and he wrote hundreds of children’s books, many of them as a ghostwriter. He published his first Uncle Wiggily story in a newspaper in 1910, and it was so popular that he ended up publishing an Uncle Wiggily story six days a week for more than 30 years. By the time he retired he had written more than 10,000 stories about the rabbit.
He wrote, “Half the fun of nearly everything, you know, is thinking about it beforehand, or afterward.”
It’s the birthday of the “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald, born in Newport News, Virginia in 1917. She loved to sing and dance as a child and when she was 16 she entered a contest at the Apollo Theater, had a dance routine worked out, and walked on stage wearing ragged clothes and men’s boots, but she froze up. Later she said, “I got out there and I saw all the people and I just lost my nerve. And the man said, ‘well, you’re out here, do something!’ So I tried to sing.” She won the contest and soon became a celebrity across all of New York. She joined Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington as the only performers who could draw audiences at the Apollo from south of 125th Street.
Ella Fitzgerald said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
In her lifetime, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®