Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
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 brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Philosophy in Warm Weather
by Jane Kenyon
Now all the doors and windows
are open, and we move so easily
through the rooms. Cats roll
on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp
climbs the pane, pausing
to rub a leg over her head.
All around physical life reconvenes.
The molecules of our bodies must love
to exist: they whirl in circles
and seem to begrudge us nothing.
Heat, Horatio, heat makes them
put this antic disposition on!
This year’s brown spider
sways over the door as I come
and go. A single poppy shouts
from the far field, and the crow,
beyond alarm, goes right on
pulling up the corn.
Jane Kenyon, “Philosophy in Warm Weather” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by The Estate of Jane Kenyon. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of American poet Jane Kenyon (books by this author), born in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1947). She was the daughter of bohemians: her father was a jazz musician who taught piano to make ends meet and her mother was a nightclub singer who taught people to sew. Kenyon’s childhood home had two upright pianos and a battered Victor record player. Kenyon’s grandmother was a fire-and-brimstone Methodist, which frightened Kenyon when she was a child — and eventually led her to abandon religion. She was introverted and shy and didn’t come into her own until college at the University of Michigan in the 1960s where she participated in rallies and began to write poetry in earnest.
It was at the University of Michigan that she met poet Donald Hall. He was her professor; she was 19 years younger than he was. She graduated and they got married, moving to Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in Wilmot, New Hampshire.
Kenyon is best known for her collection Let Evening Come (1990). She wrote spare, elegiac poems about rural life, depression, and melancholy. Of her work poet Gregory Orr once remarked, “If Sylvia Plath was Our Lady of the Rages, Jane was Our Lady of the Sorrows, Our Lady of Vulnerability.”
At Eagle Pond Farm Kenyon and Hall lived simply. They got up every morning, walked the dog, made coffee, ate breakfast, then went upstairs to write. Kenyon wrote in a cozy attic room and spent a lot of time reading John Keats, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anton Chekhov. After writing they had lunch, took naps, opened correspondence, and then wrote again until dinner. They had a pingpong table and Donald called Jane “Stubbsy” because of her short arms. She called him “Perkins.”
Kenyon wrote every day and acknowledged that the simplicity of her poems might seem banal. She once wrote to a friend, “I went to Ann Arbor, helped my mother put on a yard sale, came home and wrote a poem called, ‘Yard Sale.’ Boredom.”
People often asked if she felt competitive with her husband whose poetic reputation outshone hers for a time. From her attic study she could see Mt. Kearsarge from her window and she told people, “That mountain treats everybody the same.” In time her work garnered praise and her readings drew large, devoted audiences. She translated the work of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and converted to Christianity, attending the local Congregational Church. When asked if her newfound faith influenced her writing she answered, “My spiritual life is so much a part of my intellectual life and my feeling life that it’s really become impossible for me to keep it out of my work.”
Her advice to aspiring writers was: “Tell the whole truth. Don’t be lazy, don’t be afraid. Close the critic out when you are drafting something new. Take chances in the clarity of emotion.”
Kenyon died in 1995 after a 15-month battle with leukemia. She was serving as the poet laureate of New Hampshire when she died. Her collections of poetry include From Room to Room (1978), Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova (1985), The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986), and Constance (1993). A Hundred White Daffodils: Essays, Interviews, The Akhmatova Translations, Newspaper Columns, and One Poem (1999) was published posthumously.
Jane Kenyon said, “Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”
Today is the birthday of the author of the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon: Margaret Wise Brown (books by this author), born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1910. Brownie, as she was known to her friends, had a revolutionary idea about children’s stories: Kids would rather read about things from their own world than fairy tales and fables.
She was a lovely green-eyed blonde, extravagant and a little eccentric; with her first royalty check she bought a street vendor’s entire cart full of flowers and then threw a party at her Upper East Side apartment to show off her purchase. She was a prolific author, writing nearly a hundred picture books under several pen names and sometimes keeping six different publishers busy at once with her projects. She was known to produce a book just so she could buy a plane ticket to Europe.
At one time she dated Juan Carlos, Prince of Spain, and she had a long-term relationship with Michael Strange, John Barrymore’s ex-wife. When she was 42 she met James Stillman Rockefeller Jr., who was 26, at a party and they hit it off immediately. They had a similar whimsical take on life, and were engaged to be married when she died suddenly; she had had surgery a few weeks before and was kicking up her leg like a can-can dancer to show her doctor how well she felt. The kick dislodged a blood clot that was in her leg and the clot traveled to her heart, killing her.
She never had children of her own but she left the royalties for most of her books to a nine-year-old neighbor boy, Albert Clarke. Her estate was once worth a few hundred dollars, and now amounts to about $5 million — or rather, it would, had Clarke not squandered the inheritance, spending his life in and out of jail, throwing away clothes when they get dirty, and making a succession of bad real estate deals.
She said, “A good picture book can almost be whistled. … All have their own melodies behind the storytelling.”
It’s the birthday of Edward Norton Lorenz, born in West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1917. He started out as a mathematician but turned to meteorology during World War II. In an attempt to explain why it’s so difficult to make a long-range weather forecast, he spawned chaos theory, one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary scientific ideas.
Chaos theory is sometimes known as “the butterfly effect,” a term coined by Lorenz in an attempt to explain how small actions in a dynamic system like the atmosphere could trigger vast and unexpected changes. He discovered the effect in the early 1960s while entering values into a computer weather prediction program; instead of entering the number to the full six decimal places, he rounded it to three to save time, and the resulting weather pattern was completely different. He first framed it as the effect a seagull’s wing has on the formation of a hurricane, but he changed it to the more poetic butterfly in his 1972 presentation, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”
Though the term dates back to 1972, the concept actually predates Lorenz’s discovery. Science fiction writers had been playing around with the idea for several years in their time-travel stories: Usually the hero goes back in time and makes some seemingly insignificant choice that ends up changing the course of history.
It’s the birthday of novelist Ursula Hegi (books by this author), born in Düsseldorf, Germany (1946). She said, “I grew up surrounded by evidence of war — bombed-out buildings, fatherless children, men who had legs or arms missing — yet when I tried to ask questions, my parents and teachers only gave me reluctant and evasive answers about the war. Never about the Holocaust.”
When she was 18 years old Hegi emigrated to the United States. She was embarrassed to tell people that she was German. She said, “I still really believed you can leave your country of origin behind and start your life anew. The older I get, the more I realize you can’t do that.” She went to school at the University of New Hampshire. Her first two published novels were set in the United States, but finally she decided that she could not completely ignore her past, and in 1990 she wrote Floating in My Mother’s Palm, set in the fictional German town of Burgdorf. She wrote a second book about Burgdorf, this time centered on a woman with dwarfism named Trudi Montag. Trudi’s physical appearance makes her an outsider in the village and, from that position, she watches the Nazis come to power in Germany and her fellow townspeople turn against their Jewish neighbors. That novel was Stones from the River (1994), and it became a best-seller. She said, “My own acute discomfort at being German is very much at the core of my writing.”
Since then, she has written five more novels. She revises each book between 50 and 100 times. She said, “I go through that experience with the character. And after I have finished the story, on an emotional level, it has become my experience, and I am altered.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®