A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Akron, OH with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Scranton, PA with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Spokane, WA for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX with our favorite regulars, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Tim Russell and Fred Newman. Additional guests to be announced.
New Philadelphia, OH
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Kent State University. Poetry, Limericks, Sing-Along and the News from Lake Wobegon.
Advice from a Raindrop
by Kim Stafford
You think you’re too small
to make a difference? Tell me
about it. You think you’re
helpless, at the mercy of forces
beyond your control? Been there.
Think you’re doomed to disappear,
just one small voice among millions?
That’s no weakness, trust me. That’s
your wild card, your trick, your
implement. They won’t see you coming
until you’re there, in their faces, shining,
festive, expendable, eternal. Sure you’re
small, just one small part of a storm that
changes everything. That’s how you win,
my friend, again and again and again.
Kim Stafford, “Advice from a Raindrop” from Singer Come From Afar. Copyright © 2021 by Kim Stafford. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Red Hen Press. www.redhen.org
On this date in the year 240 B.C.E. Chinese astronomers noted the earliest recorded sighting of Halley’s comet at perihelion — its closest approach to the sun. Of course it wasn’t called Halley’s comet then; it wasn’t given that name until the 18th century when English astronomer Edmond Halley first speculated that similar comets observed in 1531, 1607, and 1682 were probably actually the same comet returning at regular intervals. He predicted its return and, though he didn’t live to see it, his prediction was correct: the comet returned on Christmas Day, 1758 — the year he had predicted.
Counting back through the years based on Halley’s computation, researchers deduced that the comet described in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles must have been the same one. It was recorded again in 164 B.C.E. and 87 B.C.E., on Babylonian clay tablets. Its most famous appearance was probably in 1066, just a few months before the Norman Invasion of England. And the comet curiously bracketed Mark Twain’s life: it appeared in 1835, the year Twain was born. In 1909 he said: “I came in with Halley’s comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” He died on April 21, 1910, one day after the comet reached perihelion.
Halley’s comet has appeared in some famous works of art through the ages. It is portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry, woven in the 11th century. It also appears as the Star of Bethlehem in Giotto’s The Adoration of the Magi, painted in 1305.
It’s the birthday of poet Theodore Roethke (books by this author), born in Saginaw, Michigan (1908). He kept dozens of notebooks with thoughts and lines of verse in them; his pockets were always filled with notes about snatches of conversations that he had heard. He was an immensely popular teacher at various colleges, including Penn State, Bennington, and the University of Washington. His works include The Lost Son and Other Poems (1948), Praise to the End! (1951), and I Am! Says the Lamb (1961). He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 for his poetry collection The Waking.
He said, “Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.”
Today is the birthday of philosopher, poet, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (books by this author). He was born in Boston in 1803. His father’s unmarried sister, Mary Moody Emerson, was a great influence on him. She wasn’t formally educated but she was sharp and she was widely read. She introduced young Waldo, as he was called, to a wide variety of philosophies and spiritual beliefs, including the Hindu scriptures that he would return to in later years, and it was from her that he got many of the aphorisms he passed on to his children, like “Always do what you are afraid to do,” and “Despise trifles,” and “Oh, blessed, blessed poverty.” He entered Harvard at 14 and began keeping journals, which he called his “savings bank;” when he became friends with Thoreau in 1837 he suggested that Thoreau, too, might benefit from keeping a journal.
In his book Nature (1836) Emerson first introduced the concept of Transcendentalism — the idea that spiritual truth could be gained by intuition rather than by established doctrine or text — and he would become a leader of that movement. He was a popular public speaker and gave more than 1,500 speeches in his lifetime.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment…” and “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Today is the birthday of short-story writer and novelist Raymond Carver (books by this author), born in Clatskanie, Oregon (1938). He grew up in Yakima, Washington, and when he was a little boy he was prone to running off when the family would go to town. “Well, of course I had to keep him on a leash,” his mother said of her son. His nickname was “Frog,” and this would end up being prophetic: he spent nearly all of his adult life hopping from city to city, mostly in California.
He got married right out of high school to his 16-year-old girlfriend, Maryann Burk. They had a couple of kids and he took a series of low-paying jobs. A creative writing class he took at Chico State College in California sparked his interest in fiction. He went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and, later, working as a night janitor in a hospital, he began writing stories about the working poor: people who lived paycheck to paycheck and whose livelihoods depended on whether their old cars would start so they could get to work. “I’m a paid-in-full member of the working poor,” he said. “I have a great deal of sympathy with them. They’re my people.” He was an alcoholic, like his father before him, but got sober in 1977. The following year he met poet and novelist Tess Gallagher. They fell in love and he left Maryann for her. They were together for 10 years, and eventually married in 1988; six weeks later Carver died of lung cancer. His epitaph comes from his poem “Late Fragment.” It reads:
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
It’s the birthday of novelist and essayist Jamaica Kincaid (books by this author) (1949), who first came to fame as a writer for The New Yorker’s popular “Talk of the Town” column. She worked there for more than 20 years before devoting herself full time to writing novels. Kincaid is the author of Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), and Autobiography of My Mother (1996).
Kincaid was born Elaine Richardson in Antigua. Girls weren’t as valued as boys so most of her mother’s affection, and financial hopes went to Kincaid’s two brothers. Kincaid was reading by three and soon found a haven in books and became a voracious reader. One of her early favorites was Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. She said, “I read every sentence twice because I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.”
When she was a teenager, her mother shipped her off to New York where she worked as a nanny on the Upper East Side. She was so hurt by being sent away that she didn’t speak to her mother for several years and refused to send money home. Most of her books have strong autobiographical elements, like See Now Then (2013), a novel about a woman writer married to a famous magazine editor who has an affair. Kincaid herself was married for many years to Allen Shawn, the son of William Shawn, Kincaid’s former boss at The New Yorker. When asked how much of her fiction is from real life, Kincaid said, “People tend to blame a writer for writing something they’re too stupid to understand.”
On the joys of being a writer Kincaid said:
“When I start to write something, I suppose I want it to change me, to make me into something not myself. And while I’m doing it, I really have the feeling that this time, at the end of it, I will be other than myself. Of course, every time I end a book, I look down at myself and I’m just the same. I’m always disappointed that I’m just the same, but not enough to never do it again! I get right back up and I start something else, and I think this time — this time — I really will be transformed into something other than this tawdry, ordinary thing, sitting on the bed and drinking cold coffee. When I write a book, I hope to be beyond mortal by the time I’m finished.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®