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+
More of Everything
by Joyce Sutphen
The people who made me possible
came from places in middle Europe,
riding steamships through the middle of
the nineteenth century. They didn’t
always get their right names, and if
they wrote home, I never heard.
The people who made me possible
worked hard clearing the land, tree
by stump by prairie grass, hauling
rock off the fields and gravel to the
roads. They seldom stopped to consider
if here was better than over there––
wherever that was. If they regretted
anything, they didn’t say, and they
didn’t tell stories about the old country;
my people didn’t make a fuss
about being born or dying early––
they always died early––which
explains why they loved weddings
and christenings, birthdays and
the Fourth of July––any time they could
sit at a picnic table listening to
a polka band, going back many
times for more of everything.
Reproduced from Carrying Water to the Field: New and Selected Poems by Joyce Sutphen by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Forthcoming October 2019 with the University of Nebraska Press. (preorder now)
It was on this day in 1789 that the United States Department of Foreign Affairs was created. A couple of months later, President Washington decided that he needed someone to help with “home affairs,” but didn’t think there was enough work to create a new position. So he combined them into one, and the Department of Foreign Affairs was renamed the Department of State in September of 1789. Foreign affairs remained the focus of the State Department, and is still the focus today.
After American independence and the adoption of the Constitution, President Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as the first secretary of state. Jefferson disliked the formality and elaborate social codes of European courts, which symbolized everything that America had rejected when it broke from England.
Jefferson wrote: “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.”
It’s the birthday of Joseph Mitchell (books by this author), born in Fairmont, North Carolina (1908). He was a writer for The New Yorker magazine for many years. His stories focused on people living on the fringe in New York City. They featured gypsies, alcoholics, the homeless, fishmongers, and a band of Mohawk Indians who worked as riveters on skyscrapers and bridges and had no fear of heights. Much of his journalism is included in the book Up in the Old Hotel (1992). While at The New Yorker, Joseph Mitchell interviewed criminals, evangelists, politicians, and celebrities. He said that he was a good interviewer because he had lost the ability to detect insanity. He listened to everyone, even those who were crazy, as if they were sane. He said, “The best talk is artless, the talk of people trying to reassure or comfort themselves.”
Mitchell published his last book in 1965, Joe Gould’s Secret, about a man who said that he learned the language of seagulls and was now writing the longest book in the world. For the next 30 years, Mitchell kept going to his New Yorker office without publishing another word.
It’s the birthday of Hilaire Belloc (books by this author), born in Paris, France (1870). In his lifetime, he was known for his journalism and serious essays, but today he’s best known for his books of humorous verse.
“When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”
It’s the birthday of Elizabeth Hardwick (books by this author), born in Lexington, Kentucky (1916). Her books of fiction and essay collections include Sleepless Nights (1979), Bartleby in Manhattan and Other Essays (1983), and Sight Readings: American Fiction (1998). In the early 1960s, she and some of her literary friends decided over dinner to found a book-reviewing journal called The New York Review of Books. She said it was dedicated to “the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and, above all, the interesting.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Bharati Mukherjee (books by this author), born in Calcutta, now Kolkata, India (1940). She said: “As a bookish child in Calcutta, I used to thrill to the adventures of bad girls whose pursuit of happiness swept them outside the bounds of social decency. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Emma Bovary, and Anna Karenina lived large in my imagination.”
She went to college in Calcutta, and after graduation, she asked her father if she could go abroad and study to be a writer — afterward, she would come home for an arranged marriage with a nuclear physicist of her same caste and class. Her father agreed, thinking it would be a harmless way for her to pass a couple of years. Her family was hosting a group of UCLA professors and students for dinner, so her father asked them where he should send his daughter in America to learn to be a writer. They suggested the University of Iowa, so off she went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
She started dating someone in her program, a Canadian named Clark Blaise, and after just two weeks, they went downtown during their lunch break and got married in a lawyer’s office above a local coffee shop. She said: “Until my lunch-break wedding, I had seen myself as an Indian foreign student who intended to return to India to live. The five-minute ceremony in the lawyer’s office suddenly changed me into a transient with conflicting loyalties to two very different cultures.”
Mukherjee’s novels include The Tiger’s Daughter (1971), Jasmine (1989), Desirable Daughters (2004), and Miss New India (2011). She died in 2017.
It was on this day in 1940 that Bugs Bunny made his official debut in an animated film short called A Wild Hare. Bugs Bunny’s first line in the cartoon, when he meets Elmer Fudd, is, “What’s up, doc?”