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 Stephen Dunn
On this they were in agreement:
everything that can happen between two people
happens after a while
or has been thought about so hard
there’s almost no difference
between desire and deed.
Each day they stayed together, therefore,
was a day of forgiveness, tacit,
no reason to say the words.
It was easy to forgive, so much harder
to be forgiven. The forgiven had to agree
to eat dust in the house of the noble
and both knew this couldn’t go on for long.
The forgiven would need to rise;
the forgiver need to remember the cruelty
in being correct.
Which is why, except in crises,
they spoke about the garden,
what happened at work,
the little ailments and aches
their familiar bodies separately felt.
“Long Term” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994 by Stephen Dunn. Copyright © 1994 by Stephen Dunn. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the publisher and editor of The Little Review magazine, Margaret Anderson (books by this author), born in Indianapolis, Indiana (1886). She grew up in the small town of Columbus, Indiana, but early on she decided that she didn’t fit into small-town life at all. So she moved to Chicago, which was the artistic capital of the Midwest at the time. In order to create a circle of artistic friends, she decided to start a magazine devoted to the avant-garde. She said that her plan was to fill the magazine with “the best conversation the world has to offer.”
She called her magazine The Little Review, and the first issue came out in March 1914. The magazine had a motto printed on the cover that said, “A Magazine of the Arts, Making No Compromise with the Public Taste.” In 1918, the poet Ezra Pound showed Anderson the manuscript for a new novel called Ulysses by a man named James Joyce. When she read it, she wrote to Pound: “This is the most beautiful thing we’ll ever have! We’ll print it if it’s the last effort of our lives.” It took three years to serialize the whole novel, during which four complete issues of the magazine were confiscated and burned by the U.S. Post Office.
She was eventually convicted of obscenity charges for printing the novel. At the trial, the judge wouldn’t let the offending material be read in her presence, because she was a woman, even though she had published it. But she said that the worst part of the experience was just the fact that all those issues of her magazine had been burned. She said: “The care we had taken to preserve Joyce’s text intact. […] The addressing, wrapping, stamping, mailing; the excitement of anticipating the world’s response to the literary masterpiece of our generation … and then a notice from the Post Office: BURNED.”
She kept publishing The Little Review after that, but the issues appeared less and less frequently. Her last issue came out in 1929.
Margaret Anderson said: “I wasn’t born to be a fighter. The causes I have fought for have invariably been causes that should have been gained by a delicate suggestion. Since they never were, I made myself into a fighter.”
It’s the 75th birthday of the novelist Nuruddin Farah (books by this author), born in Baidoa, Somalia, in 1945. He went into self-imposed exile, but he kept writing about Somalia. He said, “I decided, sitting in a friend’s apartment in Rome, if I couldn’t go back home then I would systematically make the rest of Africa my country.” He’s published many novels, all in English, all about the country where he was born.
Farah is best known for his two trilogies. The first, “Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship,” includes Sweet and Sour Milk (1979), Sardines (1981), and Close Sesame (1983). The “Blood in the Sun” trilogy includes Maps (1986), Gifts (1992), and Secrets (1998). His latest novel is called North of Dawn (2018).
Nuruddin Farah said, “The only thing I can say is that I have tried my best to keep my country alive by writing about it.”
On this day in 1434, the River Thames froze over. The freeze lasted until February of 1435. This was not an uncommon occurrence at the time; in fact, one of the earliest records of the Thames freezing hard enough to cross occurred in 250 A.D., when the freeze lasted for a good nine weeks.
The Thames was wider and shallower then — it had yet to be embanked, and was also impeded by the Old London Bridge, so the water flowed more slowly, leaving it more conducive to freezing, which happened often between 1300 and 1870. This time period was known in Europe as the “Little Ice Age” because of the particularly severe temperatures.
But people back then were made of sterner, hardier stock, and they made the best of it. The ice was thick enough to host what were known as “Frost Fairs,” a sort of carnival on the ice. Vendors sold a drink made of wormwood wine and gin called “purl.” It was drunk hot and packed a powerful punch. People enjoyed bull-baiting, puppet shows, nine-pin bowling, and ox-roasting. Boys played games of football on the ice.
During one of the first Frost Fairs (1309), a hare was hunted with dogs over the ice.
During the Frost Fair of 1564, the ice was thick with sleds and coaches, courtiers from Whitehall Palace mixed with commoners, and even Queen Elizabeth came out to practice her archery on the frozen river.
Frost Fairs were often brief since people had to be aware of rapid thawing. In 1789, the melting ice dragged a ship that was anchored to a pub, pulling the building down and crushing five people to death.
The last Frost Fair was held in 1814. The climate was milder, Old London Bridge had been replaced with a new bridge with wider arches, so the Thames flowed more freely. The ice was so thick that year that an elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. A piece of gingerbread from the last Frost Fair is on view at the Museum of London.
The last time the Thames froze over was during the brutal winter of 1962, now known as the “Big Freeze.” A lone man was spotted bicycling on the Thames near Windsor Bridge.
It’s the birthday of architect Cass Gilbert, born in Zanesville, Ohio (1859). His father was a surveyor who got a job in St. Paul, Minnesota, and so when Cass was nine years old, he and his family moved to Minnesota to join him. But his father died shortly after the family arrived, and then the boy had to go to work. But his mother also wanted him to continue his education, so he became an apprentice to a draftsman in an architecture office, and worked as a carpenter’s assistant.
He went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture, he traveled through Europe to see the great buildings there, and then he worked at a firm in New York. But he went back to Minnesota to start his own business. At first, the business was slow — his first major piece of architecture was his mother’s house in St. Paul, and he sold watercolor paintings to supplement his earnings as an architect. But after he was invited to design the Minnesota State Capitol, he started getting commissions, and he went on to design many prominent buildings like the U.S. Custom House, the St. Louis Art Museum and its Public Library, the United States Supreme Court building, and the Woolworth Building in New York City, which was 792 feet tall, making it, at that time, the tallest building in the world.
He said, “Public buildings best serve the public by being beautiful.”
It’s the birthday of novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy (books by this author), born in Shillong, India (1959). She was raised by a single mother and left home when she was 16. She lived in a squatter’s camp, went to architecture school, wrote for television and film, and worked as an aerobics instructor. One day an image came into her mind: a pair of twins sitting in a sky-blue Plymouth in the middle of a Marxist parade route. She wrote that scene, and she didn’t stop for four and a half years until she had the manuscript of her first novel. She said: “It was the way an architect designs a building. You know, it wasn’t as if I started at the beginning and ended at the end. I would start somewhere and I’d color in a bit and then I would deeply stretch back and then stretch forward. It was like designing an intricately balanced structure and when it was finished it was finished. There were no drafts.” She gave the manuscript to an acquaintance, the writer Pankaj Mishra, who worked for an Indian publishing house. Mishra was so enthusiastic that he sent it immediately to three British publishers. All of them wanted to publish it; one publisher called Roy after reading 30 pages and offered to sign her immediately. Roy told him that she needed to finish the book first. Two days later, he got on a plane to India, and she sold her book. When The God of Small Things (1997) was published, it sold more than 6 million copies and won the Booker Prize, and Roy became an international literary sensation.
Her next novel came out 20 years later: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®