Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
“Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky.
When we think of the sky, we tend to look up,
but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk
through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog,
and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us.
With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules
of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back
into the world.” – Diane Ackerman
This is a particularly busy workweek in the Literary Year, full of significant events, including the near-death of a world-famous writer years before he wrote his masterpiece, and a number of excellent poets. PENInternational, the writers’ organization, was founded. PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee now works on behalf of writers worldwide whose governments attempt to silence their voices of dissent.
So here are the Literary Days for October 4th through October 8th 2021.
October 4, 1535 – The first complete translation of the Bible into English is printed in Zürich, Switzerland.
October 4, 1884 – Damon Runyon born, syndicated newspaper columnist, author, short-story writer, and poet; known for his colorfully-named and fast-talking characters in his “Broadway” stories.
October 4, 1956 – Lesley Glaister born, British novelist and playwright; noted for her novels, including Blasted Things; Now You See Me; Little Egypt; and Honour Thy Father, which won a 1991 Somerset Maughan Award; and her play Bird Calls. Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
October 5, 1713 – Denis Diderot born, French encyclopedist and philosopher.
October 5, 1840 – John Addington Symonds born, English essayist, poet, biographer, and literary historian.
by John Addington Symonds
Mysterious night! Spread wide thy silvery plume!
Soft as swan’s down, brood o’er the sapphirine
Breadth of still shadowy waters dark as wine;
Smooth out the liquid heavens that stars illume!
Come with fresh airs breathing the faint perfume
Of deep-walled gardens, groves of whispering pine;
Scatter soft dews, waft pure sea-scent of brine;
In sweet repose man’s pain, man’s love resume!
Deep-bosomed night! Not here where down the marge
Marble with palaces those lamps of earth
Tremble on trembling blackness; nay, far hence,
There on the lake where space is lone and large,
And man’s life lost in broad indifference,
Lilt thou the soul to spheres that gave her birth!
“Night” from The Collected Works of John Addington Symonds – 2012 Kindle edition
October 5, 1945 – Judith Kerman born, American poet, musician, translator, editor, and publisher; founder in 1978 of Mayapple Press; her poetry collections include Trauma and Recovery; Aleph, Broken; and Mothering.
– noun; verb
by Judith Kerman
1.Walk out and breathe deeply:
fresh scent of pine, leaf mold,
rain coming. In August,
first drops on road dust.
2.A lovely song, fresh and light,
sometimes with variations.
An aria. I fill my lungs, trying to
feel my back ribs stretch
for a full breath,
an extended phrase.
3.Put it out for broadcast.
We need more of it,
flushing the dark rooms
“air” from definitions, ©2021 by Judith Kerman – Fomite publishing
October 6, 1847 – Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre is published in London under the pen name Currier Bell, and is an immediate popular success.
October 6, 1895 – Caroline Gordon born, American novelist and critic, known for The Strange Children and How to Read a Novel.
October 6, 1914 – Thor Heyerdahl born, Norwegian ethnographer, adventurer, and author; best known for Kon-Tiki: By Raft Across the South Seas.
October 6, 1921 – PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Editors, and Novelists) International, the writers’ organization, is founded in London, to promote friendship, advance literature, and defend freedom of expression.
October 6, 1930 – William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying is published.
October 6, 1950 – Edward Hirsch born, American poet, literary critic, essayist, and “Poet’s Choice” columnist for the Washington Post. Hirsch is the author of How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, and nine poetry collections, including Wild Gratitude; Earthly Measures; The Living Fire; and Stranger By Night.
For the Sleepwalkers
by Edward Hirsch
Tonight I want to say something wonderful
for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith
in their legs, so much faith in the invisible
arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path
that leads to the stairs instead of the window,
the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror.
I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing
to step out of their bodies into the night,
to raise their arms and welcome the darkness,
palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
Always they return home safely, like blind men
who know it is morning by feeling shadows.
And always they wake up as themselves again.
That’s why I want to say something astonishing
like: our hearts are leaving our bodies.
Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs
flying through the trees at night, soaking up
the darkest beams of moonlight, the music
of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches.
And now our hearts are thick black fists
flying back to the glove of our chests.
We have to learn to trust our hearts like that.
We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep-
walkers who rise out of their calm beds
and walk through the skin of another life.
We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness
and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.
“For the Sleepwalkers” from For the Sleepwalkers, © 1991 by Edward Hirsch – Alfred A. Knopf
October 6, 1951 – Anne-Marie Oomen born, American author, playwright, memoirist, poet, Creative Writing chair at Interlochen Arts Academy, and editor of Dunes Review.
I Have Taken the Line
by Anne-Marie Ooman
How it all kicked off–I’m on the run.
This guy’s hitching on the I-55 on-ramp,
thumb like a scrap of flag.
His last name sounds Indian.
Bloodlines must be watered down—
looks German. First name’s Barn.
My truck is military green and stole,
rest of me is so black and blue, so down
and out, I don’t know where I’ll go.
He says, Come up North with me.
He says, I know a old trailer
where the river forks into the lake.
The cold will wake the dead,
but if the current’s right, the fish
will bite. We can stay alive.
The murk of his hand-rolled smoke
is what I want first, Something certain
to wrap in. Something hot
and hurtful that I already know,
that once in a blue moon
still surprises me.
I drive like a flood busting open sluice
gates, like my whole past wants me
drowned but I’m not going down.
A body can do this once or twice a life—
just grab a line. And plain miss when
that cigarette butt turns to ash,
burns to something shaped
like a cement anchor bucket.
Pulls you under anyhow.
“I Have Taken the Line” from Uncoded Woman, ©2006 by Anne-Marie Ooman – Milkweed Editions
October 7, 1571 – The Battle of Lepanto: the city-state of Venice, bolstered by the Holy League (which included Spain), against the Ottoman Empire. Miguel de Cervantes was serving as a marine soldier aboard the Spanish ship Marquesa. He was severely wounded twice in the chest, as well as his left hand. Cervantes recovered from the wounds to his chest, but was unable to use his left hand for the rest of his life. The first volume of Don Quixote wasn’t published until 1605.
October 7, 1849 – Edgar Allan Poe dies in Baltimore at age 40.
October 7, 1849 – James Whitcomb Riley born, “the Hoosier Poet,” popular American writer, poet, and an advocate for international copyright protections.
by James Whitcomb Riley
You better not fool with a Bumblebee!—
Ef you don’t think they can sting—you’ll see!
They’re lazy to look at, an’ kind o’ go
Buzzin’ an’ bummin’ aroun’ so slow,
An’ ac’ so slouchy an’ all fagged out,
Danglin’ their legs as they drone about
The hollyhawks ‘at they can’t climb in
‘Ithout ist a-tumble-un out ag’in!
Wunst I watched one climb clean ‘way
In a jimson-blossom, I did, one day,—
An’ I ist grabbed it — an’ nen let go—
An’ “Ooh-ooh! Honey! I told ye so!“
Says The Raggedy Man; an’ he ist run
An’ pullt out the stinger, an’ don’t laugh none,
An’ says: “They has be’n folks, I guess,
‘At thought I wuz predjudust, more er less,—
Yit I still muntain ‘at a Bumblebee
Wears out his welcome too quick fer me!”
“The Bumblebee” from The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley – Indiana University Press, 1993 edition
October 7, 1934 – Amiri Baraka born as Everett LeRoi Jones, black American playwright, poet, social critic, and a major figure in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and ‘70s ; best known for his play Dutchman, his poetry collection The Dead Lecturer, and the historical survey Blues People: Negro Music in White America.
by Amiri Baraka
He came back and shot. He shot him. When he came
back, he shot, and he fell, stumbling, past the
shadow wood, down, shot, dying, dead, to full halt.
At the bottom, bleeding, shot dead. He died then, there
after the fall, the speeding bullet, tore his face
and blood sprayed fine over the killer and the grey light.
Pictures of the dead man, are everywhere. And his spirit
sucks up the light. But he died in darkness darker than
his soul and everything tumbled blindly with him dying
down the stairs.
We have no word
on the killer, except he came back, from somewhere
to do what he did. And shot only once into his victim’s
stare, and left him quickly when the blood ran out. We know
the killer was skillful, quick, and silent, and that the victim
probably knew him. Other than that, aside from the caked sourness
of the dead man’s expression, and the cool surprise in the fixture
of his hands and fingers, we know nothing.
“Incident” from Black Magic, © 1969 by Amri Baraka – Bobbs-Merrill Company
October 7, 1948 – Diane Ackerman born, American poet, essayist, and naturalist; her bestseller, A Natural History of the Senses was made into a 1995 PBS series which she hosted. A molecule that is the secretory product from a crocodile was named dianeackerone in her honor. Ackerman is also noted for her delightfully titled books The Moon by Whale Light, and Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales; Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden; and Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day.
Like Your Face
by Diane Ackerman
After Hans Magnus Enzenberger
Like your face,
a thousand-leafed day,
and I who rejoice
in what’s measureless
measure the onset of evening
and the imagined scent
of your eyelashes
shivering like flowers in the wind.
What fate threw us together?
The same chance
that drew airlanes for the bats
swooping like neuroses
from the sky, fluttering
over frail autumn leaves
which cannot harm or save
or be anyone’s victim.
“Like Your Face” first appeared in the 2002 October-November issue of Poetry magazine
October 7, 1966 – Sherman Alexie born, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene tribal member, one of the best known Native American literary figures; novelist, poet, short story writer, and filmmaker; among his numerous awards and honors are a Pushcart Prize, the PEN/Malamud Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.In 2018, ten women came forward with allegations that Alexie had used his literary celebrity, attempting to pressure them, in some cases successfully, into sexual encounters. The majority of the women have asked that their names not be used, fearing retaliation. Alexie issued a statement, “. . . I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologise . . .”
Sonnet, Without Salmon
by Sherman Alexie
1.The river is empty. 2. Empty of salmon, I mean. 3. But if you were talking to my grandmother, she would say the water doesn’t matter if the salmon are gone. 4. She never said that. I just did. But I’m giving her those words as a gesture of love. 5. She’s been gone for thirty-one years. 6. The water doesn’t matter if my grandmother is gone. 7. She swam wearing all of her clothes, even her shoes. 8. I don’t know if that was a tribal thing to do, or if she was just eccentric. 9. Has anybody ever said that dam building is an act of war against Indians? 10. And, yet, we need the electricity, too. 11. My mother said the reservation needs a new electrical grid because of all the brown- and blackouts. 12. “Why so many power outages?” I ask her. 13. “All the computers,” she says. 14. Today, in Seattle, I watched a cute couple at the next table whispering to their cell phones instead of to each other. But, chivalrous, he walked to the self-service coffee bar to get her a cup. Lovely, I thought. She was busy on her phone while he was ten feet away. When he sat back down, she said, “Oh, I was texting you to get me sugar and cream.”
“Sonnet, Without Salmon” first appeared in the July-August 2011 issue of Orion Magazine
October 7, 2020 – American poet Louise Glück was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She has been honored with numerous other awards, including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2003-2004).
by Louise Glück
Look, a butterfly. Did you make a wish?
You don’t wish on butterflies.
You do so. Did you make one?
It doesn’t count.
“The Butterfly” from Louise Glück: Poems 1962-2020, © 2019 by Louise Glück – Penguin Poetry
October 8, 1838 – John Hay born, U.S. Secretary of State under McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt (1898-1905), U.S. Ambassador to the UK (1897-1898), author, and biographer.
October 8, 1872 – John Cowper Powys born, British philosopher, novelist, and literary critic; known for his novels, Wood and Stone; Wolf Solent; and A Glastonbury Romance.