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 Willa Schneberg
I can still hear the clink
of the milk bottles he brought home
10:00 in the morning after he made
his deliveries for Bordens.
Thirty-five years, they never
gave him off a Jewish holiday.
The goy he asked to do his shift
on Yom Kippur refused and
the next day he dropped dead.
They called it a Jewish curse.
Then they stepped all over each other
to work for him.
What could I do after his stroke?
I put him in a nursing home.
He knows me, but can’t talk anymore.
Fifty years we lived together
he would never weep in front of me.
Now all the time his eyes are tearing,
but there is no more Morris to cry.
Lovemaking wasn’t so easy between us
in the early years. We both felt guilty.
We thought we weren’t supposed to enjoy
it and I was always worried
about becoming pregnant.
Later on we worried the children would hear.
But after they grew up and moved out
and I couldn’t bear anymore
we began to have fun.
It wasn’t always before going to sleep either.
Sometimes during breakfast
he would say, Let’s go
and roll his eyes up to the bedroom.
Luba, he would say, I’ll help you
take out the hairpins.
“Spilled Milk” by Willa Schneberg, from In the Margins of the World. © Plain View Press, 2001. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of Scottish writer Irvine Welsh (books by this author), born in Leith, Edinburgh, in 1958. He’s best known for his first novel, Trainspotting, which became a cult hit after it was published in 1993. A few years later, the book was adapted into a movie directed by Danny Boyle and starring Ewan McGregor. By the end of the decade, Irvine Welsh was one of Scotland’s highest-earning writers.
elsh grew up in the Leith, Edinburgh, housing projects, hanging out with folks who used their dole money to support their heroin addictions. He trained as a TV repairman, but after receiving a big electrical jolt, he decided to quit. He moved to London, joined the punk scene, played guitar in some bands, and was arrested for a bunch of different petty crimes. After one judge decided to suspend Welsh’s sentence rather than making him serve, Welsh decided he’d take the chance to reform his ways.
He enrolled in a computer skills program, worked in real estate, and completed an MBA degree. And he found an old diary of his, from 1982, about druggie life in the Edinburgh projects. His diary, along with a journal full of notes he’d taken on a Greyhound bus ride from Los Angeles to New York, became the basis for his book Trainspotting. It’s full of obscene language and vulgarity, and many critics found it offensive, but the book was still longlisted for the Booker Prize. And it was a huge best-seller.
Welsh’s other novels include Marabou Stork Nightmares (1995), Filth (1998), The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006), and Skagboys (2012). His most recent novel is Dead Men’s Trousers (2018).
It’s the 75th birthday of poet Kay Ryan, (books by this author) born in San Jose, California (1945). She’s the author of the poetry collections Strangely Marked Metal (1985), Elephant Rocks (1996), Say Uncle (2000) and The Niagara River (2005). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Kay Ryan is a lifetime Californian, though she has migrated through the state’s vastly varied landscapes: She grew up in small towns among San Joaquin Valley’s fertile farmlands and in the stark desert landscape of the Mojave, where her family were parishioners, she says, of the “Church of Proximity” — whichever denomination happened to be closest to their house. She spent six years studying English literature at UCLA, where she was excluded from the school poetry club because, she recalls, she was thought of as “too much of an outsider.” Since the 1970s, she’s lived along Francis Drake Boulevard in Fairfax, a small town in Marin County (just north of San Francisco).
She started writing poetry at age 19, the year her father died while reading a book on how to get rich quick. Throughout her 20s, she wrote some poems, but it was mostly something she did in her spare time. Then, age 29, she decided to bicycle across the country with some friends, hoping that the 4,000-mile trek would give her time to think about what she was going to do with her life. She started on the West Coast, and as she was pedaling through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, she said, “The repetitive, rhythmic exercise gave [her] a sense of oneness with [her] surroundings.” It felt as though, she said, “I could pass through the pine trees and they through me.”
At that moment, she asked the universe, “Should I be a writer?” She said that the universe answered with a question: “Do you like it?” Her response was a resounding affirmative, and in that moment, she felt that she “wasn’t bound by the ordinary structures of ego.”
When she returned to California, she went about setting up her life so that she could devote as much of it as possible to poetry. She got a job teaching basic writing skills to junior college students at the College of Marin in Kentfield, where her partner also taught. She taught only Tuesdays and Thursdays and lived frugally so that she could spend the other five days a week writing poetry.
She said, “Poems should leave you feeling freer and not more burdened. I like to think of all good poetry as providing more oxygen into the atmosphere; it just makes it easier to breathe.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®