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+
by Harry Clifton
I am a broken-hearted milkman, in grief I’m arrayed,
Through keeping of the company of a young servant maid,
Who lived on board and wages the house to keep clean
In a gentleman’s family near Paddington Green.
She was as beautiful as a butterfly
And proud as a Queen
Was pretty little Polly Perkins of
She’d an ankle like an antelope and a step like a deer,
A voice like a blackbird, so mellow and clear,
Her hair hung in ringlets so beautiful and long,
I thought that she loved me but I found I was wrong.
When I’d rattle in the morning and cry ‘milk below’,
At the sound of my milk-cans her face she would show
With a smile upon her countenance and a laugh in her eye,
If I thought that she’d have loved me I’d have laid down to die.
When I asked her to marry me, she said ‘Oh what stuff’,
And told me to ‘drop it, for she’d had quite enough
Of my nonsense’— at the same time I’d been very kind,
But to marry a milkman she didn’t feel inclined.
‘Oh, the man that has me must have silver and gold,
A chariot to ride in and be handsome and bold,
His hair must be curly as any watch-spring,
And his whiskers as big as a brush for clothing.’
The words that she uttered went straight through my heart,
I sobbed and I sighed, and I straight did depart;
With a tear on my eyelid as big as a bean,
Bidding good-bye to Polly and Paddington Green.
In six months she married,—this hard-hearted girl,—
But it was not a Wi-count, and it was not a Nearl,
It was not a ‘Baronite’, but a shade or two wuss,
It was a bow-legged conductor of a twopenny bus.
“Polly Perkins” by Harry Clifton. Public domain.
The first issue of The New Yorker was published on this date in 1925. The magazine was founded by Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant, who was a reporter for the New York Times; Ross remained editor in chief until his death in 1951. The magazine was styled as a showcase for wit, gossip, and culture; its target readership was the New York sophisticate. As Ross said, “[I]t is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.”
Today is the birthday of American novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace (books by this author), born in Ithaca, New York (1962). The 1,079-page novel Infinite Jest (1996) made him a literary superstar. It features a former pop singer named Johnny Gentle as the American president. The title refers to an elusive film that terrorists are trying to steal. It’s rumored that to watch the film provides the watcher with such joy that the joy becomes fatal.
It’s the birthday of British poet, author, and playwright W.H. Auden (books by this author), born Wystan Hugh Auden in York, England (1907). Auden once said, “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” As a child, he read voraciously, especially Emily Dickinson and William Blake. By 13 he was writing his own poems, mostly imitations of 19th-century Romantic poets like William Wordsworth.
W.H. Auden was a prolific writer, publishing over 400 poems in his lifetime, and penning librettos and film scripts. He was a versatile poet, well versed in all styles, including limericks, doggerel, haiku, and villanelle. His books include The Shield of Achilles (1955), City Without Walls and Other Poems (1972), and The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue (1947), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry (1948).
Auden’s writing habits were simple: he woke up, had strong coffee and toast for breakfast, smoked cigarettes while completing the New York Times crossword puzzle and reading the obituaries, and then got to work.
On this day in 1848, the most influential and best-selling political pamphlet of all time was first published: The Communist Manifesto, written by Marx (books by this author) and Engels (books by this author).
Marx and Engels wrote the Manifesto as a call to action aimed at the proletariat across Western Europe, and as an advertisement or plug for a specific type of socialism — the version Marx and his colleagues and the Communist League promoted. There were a lot of versions of socialism already circulating around Europe.
Most of the ideas that went into the Communist Manifesto were brainstormed over the course of a week and a half in a room above an English pub — a pub called the Red Lion, located in the Soho district of London. Karl Marx had the job of drafting the ideas into something publishable. He was supposed to get it done by New Year’s Day, but he missed his deadline. He finished it, along with help from Engels, by early February — and it was on this day in 1848 that the pamphlet was finally published.
It’s the birthday of Anaïs Nin (books by this author), born in Neuilly, France (1903), the daughter of a Spanish composer and Danish-Cuban classically trained singer. She studied psychoanalysis with Otto Rank, and was a patient of Carl Jung at one time. She wrote in literary obscurity for most of her life, until her diaries began to be published in 1966. She began writing them at age eleven and continued for more than 60 years, and they include accounts of her passionate love affair with Henry Miller in Paris.
It’s the birthday of writer Ha Jin (books by this author), born in Liaoning Province in China (1956). He was a bright student, chosen to attend a competitive school away from home. But after a couple of years his family could no longer afford to send him there, and then the Cultural Revolution broke out. He said, “We had nothing to study in school, so we played on the streets or went into mountains to pick up peanuts and sweet potatoes left by the peasants in the fields.” He went into the army, and he practiced reading with propaganda material and Communist books.
He went on to graduate school in the United States, and then he stayed there and started writing poetry, short stories, and novels. His many books include Under the Red Flag (1997), Waiting (1999), A Map of Betrayal (2014), and most recently, The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai (Li Po)(2019).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®