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
Garrison Keillor comes to The Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD for an Evening of poetry, Sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. Tickets $60
Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet come to The Wayne Theatre for an Evening of poetry, gospel, sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. 7:00PM
High Point, NC
Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet come to the High Point Theatre for an Evening of poetry, gospel, sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. 7:30 PM
by Louis Jenkins
If poetry is your life, then your life must be the
poem, a life that exists only for the reader. And
who is the reader for whom you write? The
imaginary reader? Perhaps it’s a beautiful
woman who is so taken with the words that
she reads late into the night, propped on one
elbow, only a sheet covers the curve of her hip,
slips away from her bare shoulder. The summer
breeze from the window teases her dark hair.
Her lips move, from time to time, ever so slightly
as she repeats a phrase that seems especially
moving…. But probably, the imaginary reader
is even more vaguely described, like God.
The reader reads. Nothing happens. Nothing
changes. The night goes on. He is still reading.
He yawns, rubs his eyes. Any moment now
the book will slip from his hands, so you write
Louis Jenkins, “Imaginary Reader” from Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005. Copyright © 2009 Will o’ the Wisp, used with permission of Ann Jenkins. (buy now)
In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It’s officially the first day of winter and one of the oldest-known holidays in human history. Anthropologists believe that solstice celebrations go back at least 30,000 years, before humans even began farming on a large scale. Many of the most ancient stone structures made by human beings were designed to pinpoint the precise date of the solstice. The stone circles of Stonehenge were arranged to receive the first rays of midwinter sun.
Some ancient peoples believed that because daylight was waning, it might go away forever, so they lit huge bonfires to tempt the sun to come back. The tradition of decorating our houses and our trees with lights at this time of year is passed down from those ancient bonfires. In ancient Egypt and Syria, people celebrated the winter solstice as the sun’s birthday. In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated with the festival of Saturnalia, during which all business transactions and even wars were suspended, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.
Henry David Thoreau said: “In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.”
It was on this day in 1913 that the very first crossword puzzle appeared in a newspaper. It was the invention of a journalist named Arthur Wynne, who worked for The New York World. He called it a “Word-Cross,” but the typesetter made a mistake and called it a “Cross-Word” and the name stuck. Early on, the editors found it difficult to avoid making errors in the puzzles, so they decided to drop it. Hundreds of addicted readers wrote in to protest, so it was reinstated after one week.
In 1924, two men named Richard Simon and Lincoln Schuster decided to set up a publishing house, and as they were casting about for ideas of what to publish, they decided to try a book of crossword puzzles. That book sold half a million copies in less than a year. The book’s success launched a worldwide crossword puzzle craze and helped put Simon & Schuster on the publishing map. The enthusiasm for crosswords also helped to drive up the sales for dictionaries and encyclopedias. Libraries were forced to ration the use of reference books. By the end of the 1930s, most daily newspapers featured crossword puzzles. One of the last newspapers to do so was The New York Times, which finally began printing a daily puzzle in 1950.
Today in 1879, the world premiere of Henrik Ibsen‘s play A Doll’s House took place at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark (books by this author). When the play opened, the cast had only rehearsed together 11 times, including the dress rehearsal. There was a director, but he didn’t give much guidance to the actors about how they should approach their characters. The stage set from Ibsen’s play The Pillars of Society (1877) was still hanging around the theater, so the production used the same set for A Doll’s House.
The print version of A Doll’s House was published a couple of weeks before the stage premiere, so most of the critics had already read it. The play was hugely controversial because of its ending: the main character, Nora, walks out on her family, leaving behind her husband and three young children.
When A Doll’s House was first produced in Germany a year later, the lead actress, Hedwig Niemann-Raabe, refused to act the final scene, claiming that she would never leave her own children. She insisted on a new ending. There were no sufficient copyright laws to protect A Doll’s House from being rewritten by someone else, so Ibsen finally agreed to write a new ending, rather than have someone else butcher it. In the new version, Nora is overcome with emotion when her husband shows her the door to the nursery, and she sinks down on her knees and doesn’t leave. Ibsen hated the alternative ending, calling it “a barbaric outrage.”
It’s the birthday of journalist and novelist Rebecca West (books by this author), born Cicely Isabel Fairfield in London (1892). As a teenager, she began publishing articles in a feminist weekly called The Freewoman. She wrote theater and literary reviews, and pieces about women’s suffrage. She chose a pen name, Rebecca West, so she wouldn’t embarrass her family with her radical politics and strong opinions. She wrote: “When a socialist takes to being dull, he is much duller than anyone else.” In a review of a book about the joys of motherhood, she described housework as “domestic slavery, to be shunned like rat-poison.”
West continued to work as a reporter for many of the most respected magazines and newspapers of the day. She covered international affairs, including a series on the Nuremberg Trials for The New Yorker, and a series on South Africa’s apartheid for the Sunday Times. In 1948, President Truman presented her with an award and called her “the world’s best reporter.” Her most famous book was Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), a long book about the history, culture, and politics of Yugoslavia.
Her other books of nonfiction and fiction include The Strange Necessity: Essays and Review (1928), The Meaning of Treason (1947), and The Fountain Overflows (1956).
She wrote: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®