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 Sarah Wetzel
I wanted to tell the woman at the party
that I knew the truth––
she didn’t adopt her dog from a kill shelter,
which is what she was telling a group of us.
I held my tongue for fear of appearing petty.
We all want to be better than we are.
Yesterday, my sister called and asked for money.
At first, I told her no.
But she’d received the third notice from Georgia Power
so I paid her $700 electric bill though told her
never again, unless her husband got a job, any job.
I cc’ed him on the email.
He wrote back, You’re an awful person
with a mixture of rage and bitterness I could hear
even on the screen. Still, this time
I meant it. I overheard the woman at the party
tell her friend they’d actually purchased the dog
from a breeder in upstate New York.
We spent so much money, we could have adopted
a baby from China. I found her statement funny.
I want to be better. I want to save a dog, to save
my sister. I want to tread lightly on this world without
leaving footprints or too many
plastic wrappers. I want to see Singapore
and Vietnam, to spend a summer in Italy writing
short stories and a sonnet or two.
Learn to tango and foxtrot equally well.
I want to be good.
I want to write one poem so perfect
that when I’m dead, a stranger will pin it to the wall,
perhaps even claim it as their own.
“Ambition” by Sarah Wetzel from The Davids Inside David. © Terrapin Books, 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (books by this author), born in Florence in 1469. Machiavelli loved politics, and once wrote to a friend that he could talk of nothing else. He’s best known for his political how-to manual, The Prince (written in 1513; published in 1532), and the term “Machiavellian” has come to stand in for the book’s central theme, namely “the ends justify the means.” He observed that princes can and do use unsavory, brutish, or deceptive tactics to gain and maintain power. Humanists called The Prince immoral, and the Catholic Church added it to their list of banned books.
Enlightenment philosophers in the 18th century read The Prince as a satire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract, “Machiavelli was a proper man and a good citizen; but, being attached to the court of the Medici, he could not help veiling his love of liberty in the midst of his country’s oppression. The choice of his detestable hero, Caesar Borgia, clearly enough shows his hidden aim; and the contradiction between the teaching of The Prince and that of the Discourses on Livy and The History of Florence shows that this profound political thinker has so far been studied only by superficial or corrupt readers.”
It’s also the birthday of William Inge (books by this author), born in 1913 in Independence, Kansas. He came to be known as the “Playwright of the Midwest,” and credits his keen understanding of human nature to growing up in a small town: “I’ve often wondered how people raised in our great cities ever develop any knowledge of humankind. People who grow up in small towns get to know each other so much more closely than they do in cities.”
While working as a drama critic for the St. Louis Star-Times, Inge met Tennessee Williams, who invited him to a production of The Glass Menagerie. Inge was inspired to write a play of his own, Farther Off from Heaven (1947), which Williams recommended for production. He wrote a string of hits — Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), Picnic(1952), Bus Stop (1955), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957) — all of which would later be turned into movies. He enjoyed less success and acclaim in the 1960s, however, with the sole exception being his screenplay for Splendor in the Grass (1961). He won an Oscar for it, but his five final plays were box office flops, and he killed himself in 1973, convinced he could no longer write.
And it’s the birthday of Israeli poet and novelist Yehuda Amichai (books by this author), born Ludwig Pfeuffer in Würzburg, Germany, in 1924. He moved to Palestine in 1936 and later became an Israeli citizen. He had a childhood friend in Germany, Ruth Hanover, who died in a concentration camp in 1944. She sometimes appears in his poems as “Little Ruth,” and he calls her his “Anne Frank.”
He was one of the first poets to write in colloquial Hebrew, and he sometimes used an archaic word rather than its modern equivalent, and this gave another, biblical layer of meaning to his poems that is unfortunately lost in translation. He told the Paris Reviewin 1989: “I’d been raised in a very Orthodox home and the language of the prayers and the Bible were part of my natural language. I juxtaposed this language against the modern Hebrew language, which suddenly had to become an everyday language after having been a language of prayers and synagogue for two thousand years.”
He said: “I think when you’re a poet you have to forget you’re a poet — a real poet doesn’t draw attention to the fact he’s a poet. The reason a poet is a poet is to write poems, not to advertise himself as a poet.”
It’s the birthday of poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton (books by this author), born Eleanor Marie Sarton in Wondelgem, Belgium, in 1912. Her father was a science historian, and her mother was an artist, and the family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, when May was three years old. She received a scholarship to Vassar, but by this time she had fallen in love with the theater and her dream was to act and direct, so she declined the offer. While studying acting and voice, she wrote poetry, and a series of her sonnets was published in Poetry magazine in 1930, when she was 18 years old. By 1935, she had decided that writing, not acting, was her life’s work. She wrote more than 50 books: poetry, novels, memoirs, and journals. Her memoir Journal of a Solitude (1973) has been called “the watershed in women’s autobiography.”
By 1990, she was largely unable to write anymore as a result of a stroke, but she produced three journals by dictating them into a tape recorder. She also hand-wrote a final volume of verse.
“You choose to be a novelist,” she once said, “but you’re chosen to be a poet. This is a gift and it’s a tremendous responsibility. You have to be willing to give something terribly intimate and secret of yourself to the world and not care, because you have to believe that what you have to say is important enough.”