Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for 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 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
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
In Several Colors
by Jane Kenyon
Every morning, cup of coffee
in hand, I look out at the mountain.
Ordinarily, it’s blue, but today
it’s the color of an eggplant.
And the sky turns
from gray to pale apricot
as the sun rolls up
Main Street in Andover.
I study the cat’s face
and find a trace of white
around each eye, as if
he made himself up today
for a part in the opera.
Jane Kenyon, “In Several Colors” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by The Estate of Jane Kenyon. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of writer, philosopher, and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft (books by this author), born in London in 1759. Her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is one of the earliest books of feminist philosophy; in it she argues that it is lack of access to education, not any inherent flaw, that makes women seem inferior to men. She argued that women should be taught to be rational, rather than ornamental, beings and that they should be given skills to help them support themselves in widowhood so that they need never marry out of financial necessity. Her own education was haphazard because her father had squandered his inheritance and was trying — and failing — to earn a living as a gentleman farmer. The family moved around a lot, and though her brother Ned received a formal education, Mary did not.
She’s less well known, but no less influential, as a travel writer. Her book Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796) combined political and social commentary, descriptions of the landscape and culture, and personal revelation, and it influenced Romantic poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. It probably didn’t hurt her burgeoning relationship with philosopher William Godwin either; he wrote, “If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book.” They became good friends, and then lovers, and she became pregnant. They married in March 1797, and their daughter, Mary, who would grow up to marry Percy Shelley and write Frankenstein, was born in August, but Mary Wollstonecraft died of septicemia 10 days later. Godwin grieved deeply, writing to a friend, “I have not the least expectation that I can now ever know happiness again.”
Ten years before her death, Wollstonecraft had written to her sister, “You know I am not born to tread in the beaten track — the peculiar bent of my nature pushes me on.” Because that was what Godwin loved about her, he published a memoir of her life the following year, intending it as a celebration of her unconventional life, but readers were shocked at her love affairs, her suicide attempts, and her two daughters conceived out of wedlock. Her reputation suffered a near-fatal blow and the prevailing opinion of the 19th century was that no respectable woman would have anything to do with her except as a cautionary tale. It took almost 80 years, and the advent of the women’s suffrage movement, to rehabilitate her in the public eye.
It’s the birthday of playwright August Wilson (books by this author), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1945). His father was a German baker and his mother was an African-American cleaning woman. His father was rarely around, and he grew up in the impoverished Hill district of Pittsburgh with his mother and five siblings. Five families rented the building — his family had two rooms with no hot water and they all shared the dirt yard out back. His mother, Daisy Wilson, taught Freddy to read when he was four years old, and a year later he got his first library card. He was a bright boy but he suffered from racism in school. He dropped out of school altogether when he was 15 years old after a teacher accused him of plagiarizing a paper about Napoleon because she didn’t think a black student could have written anything so good.
So he taught himself at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library. He read Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Ellison. He joined the Army and started writing poetry, influenced by Dylan Thomas and Amiri Baraka. When he was 20 his father died and he changed his name from Frederick Kittel to August Wilson, taking his mother’s last name. Three years later he and a friend started the Black Horizons Theater company in the Hill district where he grew up. He staged his first play, Recycling, in 1973.
In 1978 Wilson moved to Minnesota. He said:
“I moved to St. Paul in 1978 and got a job at the Science Museum of Minnesota writing scripts — adapting tales from the Northwest Native Americans for a group of actors attached to the anthropology department. So I began to work in the script form without almost knowing it. In 1980 I sent a play, Jitney, to the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, won a Jerome Fellowship, and found myself sitting in a room with 16 playwrights. I remember looking around and thinking that since I was sitting there, I must be a playwright, which is absolutely critical to the work. It is important to claim it.”
Wilson was homesick, and Jitney was set in the Hill district in the 1970s.
Wilson continued to write successful and popular plays: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1982), set in the 1920s; Fences (1983), set in the 1950s and 1960s; and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984), set in 1911. Wilson realized that he was setting his plays in different decades and he decided to make that his life’s work: chronicling African-American experiences throughout the 20th century, decade by decade. He said:
“I was doing an interview with a guy and he says, ‘Well, Mr. Wilson, now that you’ve written these four plays and exhausted the black experience, what are you going to write about next?’ I just told him I would continue to explore the black experience, whether he thought it was exhausted or not. And then my goal was to prove that it was inexhaustible, that there was no idea that couldn’t be contained by black life.”
His final play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle was Radio Golf, which is set in the 1990s, and premiered in 2005. Wilson died of liver cancer six months later.
August Wilson said:
“My greatest influence has been the blues. And that’s a literary influence, because I think the blues is the best literature that we as black Americans have. […] Blues is the bedrock of everything I do. All the characters in my plays, their ideas and their attitudes, the stance that they adopt in the world, are all ideas and attitudes that are expressed in the blues. If all this were to disappear off the face of the earth and some people two million unique years from now would dig out this civilization and come across some blues records, working as anthropologists, they would be able to piece together who these people were, what they thought about, what their ideas and attitudes toward pleasure and pain were, all of that. All the components of culture.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®