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 Dorianne Laux
In Alaska I slept in a bed on stilts, one arm
pressed against the ice-feathered window,
the heat on high, sweat darkening the collar
of my cotton thermals. I worked hard to buy that bed,
hiked toward it when the men in the booths
were finished crushing hundred-dollar bills
into my hand, pitchers of beer balanced on my shoulder
set down like pots of gold. My shift ended at 5 AM:
station tables wiped clean, salt and peppers
replenished, ketchups married. I walked the dirt road
in my stained apron and snow boots, wool scarf,
second-hand gloves, steam rising
off the backs of horses wading chest deep in fog.
I walked home slow under Orion, his starry belt
heavy beneath the cold carved moon.
My room was still, quiet, squares of starlight
set down like blank pages on the yellow quilt.
I left the heat on because I could afford it, the house
hot as a sauna, and shed my sweater and skirt,
toed off my boots, slung my damp socks
over the oil heater’s coils. I don’t know now
why I ever left. I slept like the dead
while outside my window the sun rose
low over the glacier, and the glacier did its best
to hold on, though one morning I woke to hear it
giving up, sloughing off a chunk of antediluvian ice,
a sound like an iron door opening on a bent hinge.
Those undefined days I stared into the blue scar
where the ice face had been, so clear and crystalline
it hurt. I slept in my small room and all night—
or what passed for night that far north—
the geography of the world outside my window
was breaking and falling and changing shape.
And I woke to it and looked at it and didn’t speak.
“Juneau” from The Book of Men: Poems by Dorianne Laux. Copyright © 2011, 2012 by Dorianne Laux. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. (buy now)
Shakespeare’s (books by this author) sonnets were first published on this day in 1609, most likely without Shakespeare’s permission. The book contained 154 sonnets, all but two of which had never been published before. Shakespeare (or perhaps the publisher Thomas Thorpe) dedicated the collection to “Mr. W.H.” whose identity has never been known. The poems are about love, sex, politics, youth, and the mysterious “Dark Lady,” and they have given young lovers and the hopelessly romantic words for the ages:
Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, a
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade,
Nor loose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his
When in eternal lines to time though grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
On this day in 1946, English-born poet W.H. Auden (books by this author) became a U.S. citizen. An Englishman, Auden moved to the United States in 1939. It was also in the U.S. that he met his lover Chester Kallman. And between 1940 and 1941, he shared a house in New York with other artists, including the writer Carson McCullers and the composer Benjamin Britten.
He volunteered to go back to England and serve in the army when war broke out, but was told that, at 32, he was too old.
In later years, Auden lived on a farm in Austria, teaching interstitially at Oxford and writing for The New Yorker and other magazines. He died in Vienna in 1973.
He said, “It’s a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.”
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