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+
The farm wife turns off the TV evangelist
by Shari Wagner
The Jesus I grew up with
likes to be outside.
If he’s not fishing, he’s picking figs
or showing us his mustard crop.
He prefers dusty roads, the common sparrow,
and lilies of the field.
When he knocks on your door
holding a lantern, you know it’s time
to buckle on overshoes
and go with him to feed the sheep.
But this preacher, who looks straight
into the camera and claims he knows
Jesus, says what he wants
is for me to believe in him
so he can come inside.
That sounds shifty to me.
Like a wolf with his paws dipped in flour.
Jesus who heals the blind
said we will know a tree by its fruit.
“The farm wife turns off the TV evangelist” by Shari Wagner from The Farm Wife’s Almanac. © Dream Seeker Books, 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of singer and songwriter Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly, born in Lubbock, Texas, in 1936. By the age of 13, Holly was playing what he called “Western Bop” at local clubs. He was 19 when an agent discovered him and signed him to a contract with Decca records. The following year, Holly returned to Lubbock and, with three friends, formed The Crickets, who then released “That’ll Be the Day,” which sold more than a million copies. Buddy Holly’s career was short: He died in February of 1959 in a plane crash in northern Iowa. Soon after, an English band that admired The Crickets decided to call themselves The Beatles.
It’s the birthday of Queen Elizabeth the First of England, born in Greenwich, England (1533). She was the daughter of King Henry the Eighth and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She became queen in 1558, and during her reign, England established its dominance as a sea power with the defeat, in 1588, of the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth also presided over a remarkable flourishing of literature in England. It was during her reign that Shakespeare rose to prominence and established himself as the greatest poet and playwright in the English language. Her reign ended in 1603.
It’s the birthday of Modernist poet Edith Sitwell (books by this author), born in Scarborough, England (1887). Her parents, Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell, were baffled by their daughter. While Lady Ida was a beauty, Edith was not. She was extremely tall and thin, with a curved spine and a hooked nose. Her parents forced her to wear an iron brace on her back and a contraption on her nose in an attempt to make her more conventionally attractive. Edith was a bright and curious child, but her father decided that formal education made women less womanly, so he refused to let her go to school. When she was a teenager and it came time for her to make her debut in society, she engaged a man in a debate over his classical music preferences, and her parents were horrified and pulled her back out of social gatherings. She left her family on such bad terms that she didn’t even attend her mother’s funeral.
Instead, she made her own life as a Modernist poet and a notable public personality. She published many books of poems, including Rustic Elegies (1927), The Song of the Cold(1948), Gardeners and Astronomers (1953), and The Outcasts (1962). Her poetry has generally been overshadowed by her colorful personality. To accentuate her dramatic features, she wore enormous rings, turbans, and old-fashioned gowns. She befriended T.S. Eliot and Graham Greene, and later in her life, championed Dylan Thomas’ poetry. She considered Marilyn Monroe a soulmate, and the two women read poetry aloud together.
Sitwell’s best-known work is Façade, a series of poems that she set to music — each poem was meant to be read in a specific rhythm. The composer William Walton wrote the music and conducted a live orchestra during the performance. All the audience could see was a curtain painted like a huge face, with a hole in the center for a mouth. Sitwell sat behind the hole, reciting her words through a megaphone. The first London performance of Façade went so badly that an old woman in the audience waited outside the curtain afterward to hit Sitwell with an umbrella; Noel Coward walked out; and Virginia Woolf didn’t understand the poetry. Woolf wrote: “So I judged yesterday in the Aeolian Hall, listening, in a dazed way, to Edith Sitwell vociferating through the megaphone. […] I should be describing Edith Sitwell’s poems, but I kept saying to myself ‘I don’t really understand … I don’t really admire.’” When Sitwell performed Façade in New York more than 20 years later, it was extremely popular.
Sitwell said: “I am not an eccentric. It’s just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel in a pool of catfish.”
It’s the birthday of writer Margaret Landon (books by this author), born in Somers, Wisconsin (1903). When she was 23, she and her husband signed up to be missionaries in Thailand, which was known as the Kingdom of Siam. For 10 years, Landon lived in Thailand, ran a school, and raised her three children. While she was living there, she came across a book by a woman named Anna Leonowens, a Welsh governess who had tutored the King of Siam’s many wives and children during the 1860s. Landon was intrigued by her story, and she fictionalized it in a novel she titled Anna and the King of Siam (1944). Landon’s book became a best-seller in 20 languages, selling more than a million copies. The story became even more famous when it was even more fictionalized into the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I (1956). Margaret Landon wrote one other novel, called Never Dies the Dream (1949), a fictionalized account of her own experiences in Thailand — but her own story was never as popular as Anna’s.
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