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
March 4 in Kent, OH 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
Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 11 in Joliet, IL Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 10 in Ottumwa Iowa Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
by Danusha Laméris
I am sitting next to him in the front seat of his pickup
looking at the stars and trying to remember the laws of motion:
how a body in motion will remain in motion. And a body at rest
will remain at rest, until, or unless….And whenever one body
exerts a force onto a second body, etc., etc. and so on. I can smell
the frayed remainder of his cologne, feel the warmth of his knee
not quite touching mine. Moonlight lays itself along the field
and something stirs in the shadows. I can’t help wondering
how one body might act upon another—though I have a feeling
we’ll both keep minding the empty space between his right thigh,
my left, our bare arms, the heavy air that separates our lips.
I wish I could turn on the radio and listen to some crooner croon
about what we won’t say. But there’s only the drone of cars
passing on the main road and crickets singing in the dark grass.
He rolls down the windows and we breathe in the cool night air,
looking up at our galaxy of milk, that wash of luminaries
spilled across the sky, which, however bright they seem,
are moving—even now—farther and farther away.
“Newtonian Nocturne” from Bonfire Opera by Danusha Laméris, © 2020. Aired by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood (1939) (books by this author), best known for her searing explorations of feminism, sexuality, and politics in books like The Handmaid’s Tale (1986), a dystopian novel that takes place in a United States, which has become a fundamentalist theocracy where women are forced to have children. She started writing the book on a battered, rented typewriter while on a fellowship in West Berlin. The book became an international best-seller. Atwood’s daughter was nine when it was published; by the time she was in high school, The Handmaid’s Tale was required reading. Atwood once said, “Men often ask me, ‘Why are your female characters so paranoid?’ It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”
Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario. Her father was an entomologist and the family lived for a long time in insect-research stations in the wilderness. She was 11 before she attended a full year of school. About growing up in near isolation, Atwood said: “There were no films or theatres in the North, and the radio didn’t work very well. But there were always books. I learned to read early, was an avid reader and read everything I could get my hands on — no one ever told me I couldn’t read a book. My mother liked quietness in children, and a child who is reading is very quiet.”
One day she was walking across a football field on her way home and began writing a poem in her head and decided to write it down. She says: “After that, writing was the only thing I wanted to do. I didn’t know that this poem of mine wasn’t at all good, and if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have cared.”
Her first novel was The Edible Woman (1969), about a woman who cannot eat and feels that she is being eaten. Atwood likes to write in longhand, preferably with a Rollerball pen, and is even the co-inventor of the LongPen, a remote signing device that allows a person to write in ink anywhere in the world using a tablet and the internet. Her books include Alias Grace (1996), Oryx and Crake (2003), and The Heart Goes Last (2015).
About the writing life, Margaret Atwood says: “You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.”
It’s the birthday of the American botanist Asa Gray (books by this author), born in Oneida County, New York (1810). He wrote many books on the subject of botany, aimed at audiences of different educational backgrounds, but his great work was a comprehensive flora, the Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, first published in 1848, and subsequently in many editions. He was a close colleague and avid supporter of Charles Darwin and his defense of the theory of natural selection, coming, as it did, from a devout Christian, undermined the popular notion of his day that to be an evolutionist was to be an atheist. His essays on Darwin’s theories were collected together in a volume called Darwiniana (1876).
It’s the birthday of American statistician George Gallup (1901), born in Jefferson, Iowa. He was a pioneer in scientific polling techniques, and his name became a household word synonymous with the opinion poll.
Gallup enrolled in the University of Iowa in 1918, played football and became the editor of the Daily Iowan. While editor in the early 1920s, he conducted what is widely considered the first poll in human history. He took a survey to find the prettiest girl on the campus. The winner was Ophelia Smith, whom Gallup later married.
From 1929 to 1931, he headed the Drake University School of Journalism, left to teach at Northwestern University and conduct newspaper research in the Chicago area, and in 1935 set up the American Institute of Public Opinion at Princeton University. While teaching and doing research, Gallup found that small samples of the populace could predict general attitudes. He gained recognition for accurately predicting Franklin Roosevelt’s victory over Alf Landon in 1936.
Gallup’s biggest blunder, the prediction that Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry Truman in 1948, was a minor stumbling block. At one time, nearly 200 newspapers published his reports. At the height of his career, Gallup spoke out against the practice of exit polling in elections and advocated election reforms still being discussed today. Gallup died of a heart attack in 1984 at his summer home in Switzerland.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®