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+
Tulips for Elsie
by Jonathan Potter
The day before you died I thought I’d bring
You tulips for your bedside table, bright
Ones, pink and white, to give your gaze a place
To rest, to make your labor seem less harsh.
I told my daughter so, my four-year-old
Who’d told me I should visit you, who’d hinted:
Your work, this dying business you were in,
Was making worldly things seem flimsy, thin.
The day moved on and tulips left my mind, though,
Until I thought of you again, too late,
The night descending, bringing sleep’s regrets.
The morning came and with its obligations
Distracting me, I let my dream of tulip
Fields plow under and turned to hear the news.
Jonathan Potter, “Tulips for Elsie” from the forthcoming collection, Tulips for Elsie published by Korrektiv Press 2021. © Jonathan Potter. Used with permission. Previously published in Dappled Things, Pentecost 2012. (books by this author)
It’s the birthday of novelist Muriel Spark (books by this author), born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1918). When she was growing up, she wrote love letters to herself, signed them with men’s names, and hid them in the sofa cushions in the hope of shocking her mother.
She was a prolific novelist. She’s best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). Her last novel, The Finishing School (2004), was published when she was 86 years old. She died in 2006.
It’s the birthday of poet Galway Kinnell (books by this author), born in Providence, Rhode Island (1927). His roommate at Princeton was the poet W.S. Merwin, who once woke him up in the middle of the night and read Yeats to him until dawn. After that night, Kinnell devoted himself to writing poetry in the style of Yeats. He eventually found his own voice as a poet, but he named all of his children after important figures in Yeats’s work.
He has written many books of poetry, including Body Rags (1968), Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (1980), and Strong Is Your Hold (2006). Selected Poems (1982) won the Pulitzer Prize.
Kinnell said, “What troubles me is a sense that so many things lovely and precious in our world seem to be dying out. Perhaps poetry will be the canary in the mine-shaft warning us of what’s to come,” and “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment”
It’s the birthday of novelist Meg Cabot (books by this author), born in Bloomington, Indiana (1967). As a kid, she hated the heat in Indiana, so she spent all her time in the library because it had air-conditioning. She realized that she actually loved to read, and decided that when she grew up, she would either be a writer or illustrate comic books.
After college, she moved to New York and discovered that being an illustrator or a writer was not easy. So she worked as the manager of a dorm at NYU. Then her father died, and that changed two things. First, she decided that life was short and she might as well do what she wanted, so she sent a publisher one of the novels she had written for fun, and eventually, she got it published. It was a historical romance called Where Roses Grow Wild (1998). Second, her mom started dating again. She dated one of Meg’s college professors, and Meg was upset by it even though she felt like she shouldn’t be, so she wrote a story about a teenage girl whose divorced mother starts dating the daughter’s algebra teacher. The story didn’t have much of a plot, so Cabot added a twist — the girl finds out that her father is the prince of a small European country, and that she is his only heir, and she has to go learn to be a princess. Before Cabot even published her first novel, Disney optioned the book for a movie starring Julie Andrew and Anne Hathaway. In 2000, Meg Cabot published The Princess Diaries, and the first film version came out in 2001.
The Princess Diaries series was made into two hit movies by Disney. Over 25 million copies of Cabot’s nearly 80 published books have been sold in 38 countries.
It’s the birthday of the poet Langston Hughes (books by this author), born in Joplin, Missouri (1902). He was raised in Lawrence, Kansas by his grandmother, Mary Leary Langston. Growing up, the Lawrence Public Library was one of the only integrated public buildings in the city, and he spent as much time there as possible. He said, “Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas.”
In 1926, when he was 24 years old, he published his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, and an essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” which thrust him into the national spotlight. He warned:
“This is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America — this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible. […] Then there are the low-down folks, the so-called common element, and they are the majority — may the Lord be praised! The people who have their nip of gin on Saturday nights and are not too important to themselves or the community, or too well fed, or too learned to watch the lazy world go round. They live on Seventh Street in Washington or State Street in Chicago and they do not particularly care whether they are like white folks or anybody else. Their joy runs, bang! into ecstasy. Their religion soars to a shout. Work maybe a little today, rest a little tomorrow. Play awhile. Sing awhile. O, let’s dance! These common people are not afraid of spirituals, as for a long time their more intellectual brethren were, and jazz is their child. They furnish a wealth of colorful, distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardization. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself.”
For the next 40 years, Hughes kept writing — he wrote 16 books of poetry, more than 20 plays, 10 collections of short stories, a couple of novels, children’s books, essays, radio scripts, and even song lyrics. He died in 1967, from complications of prostate cancer.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®