LitBirthdays April 10 – 16, 2011

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April is

National Frog Month

and

National Poetry Month

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Sunday April 10

Peter Morgan
Peter Morgan (b. 1963) U.K. playwright, screenwriter – The Queen

Read about Peter Morgan here and here

Peter Morgan discusses screenwriting Frost Nixon

Peter Morgan discussing the film The Queen and Queen Elizabeth / the British Monarchy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euvc7YD6s5g&feature=related

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Born April 10

George William Russell (AE) (b. 1867) – Irish poet, theosophist, artist, political activist

John M. (Mike) Ford
(b. 1957) – U.S. science fiction author, poet

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Monday April 11

Clive Exton Clive Exton (b. 1930) – U.K. screenwriter, playwright – Jeeves and Wooster

Read about Clive Exton here and here

Read the obituary for Clive Exton in the U.K. Independent (2007)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/clive-exton-462048.html

Watch a scene from the first episode of the Jeeves and Wooster series, written by Clive Exton – Table of precedence or roulette?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGjpG7i7LlA

Another scene from Jeeves and Wooster – a dogged search

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUffPcD1sD8

And the happy ending at Totleigh Towers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0JcWKlCdQA

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Born April 11

Attila József (b. 1905) – Hungarian poet

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Tuesday April 12

Thomas Dybdahl (b. 1979) – Norwegian singer/songwriter Thomas Dybdahl

Read about Thomas Dybdahl here and here

Listen to / watch the music video “Love Story”

http://www.videosurf.com/video/thomas-dybdahl-love-story-58779912

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Born April 12

Tama Janowitz (b. 1957) – U.S. novelist, satirist

Gary Soto (b. 1952) – U.S. poet, young adult fiction writer, essayist

Tom Clancy (b. 1947) – U.S. novelist – The Hunt for Red October

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Wednesday April 13

Drago Jančar (b. 1948) – Slovenian novelist, playwright, essayist Drago Jancar

Read the Wikipedia article about Drago Jancar and a bio here

Read excerpts from Drago Jancar’s 1993 novel Mocking Desire here

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Born April 13

Eudora Welty (b. 1909) – U.S. novelist, short story writer

Seamus Heaney (b. 1939) – Irish poet, Nobel Prize winner (1995)

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Thursday April 14

Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn (b. 1932) – U.S. country music singer / songwriter

Read about Loretta Lynn here and here

Loretta Lynn sings “Honky Tonk Girl” in 2008,  first recorded in 1960

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8blEOL7Yo_I&feature=related

Read an April 2011  interview in the Toledo Blade

By 21, I had all four kids in school, then got pregnant with twins, so I said the next one’s going to be a litter, so I better stop right here.”

She would sing her children to sleep, and Doo would tell her, “You’re really good, honey. You’re really good.” After enough encouragement, she started to believe him and began singing in local clubs, eventually gaining the attention of Norm Burley of Zero Records, who signed her to a record deal.

http://www.toledoblade.com/Music-Theater-Dance/2011/04/10/Loretta-Lynn-Honky-Tonk-Girl-still-going-strong.html

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Born April 14

Daniel Clowes (b. 1961) – U.S. comic book author, screenwriter

Erich von Däniken (b. 1935) – Swiss non-fiction writer – Chariots of the Gods (1968)

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Friday April 15

Benjamin Zephaniah
Benjamin Zephaniah (b. 1958) – U.K. / Jamaican poet, playwright

Read about Benjamin Zephaniah here and here and here

It all started, like so much else, with his mother. Having, according to his poem “Naked”, “read a poster on a/ hot tin street in Jamaica that told her/ that Britain loves her”, she came to Handsworth, where she worked as a nurse and married a postman from Barbados. If Britain loved her, however, her husband didn’t – or at least not enough to stop hitting her. “I remember,” says Zephaniah, “saying to a kid one day, ‘what do you do when your dad beats your mum?’ I just thought it was normal.”

In his children’s novel Gangsta Rap he describes the extraordinary facilities – recording studios, tailored coaching, etc. – made available to a trio of teenagers excluded from school, facilities that enable them to launch careers as best-selling rappers. It wasn’t, I presume, quite like that for him. “No,” says Zephaniah, taking a huge bite of falafel, “they just left us in the streets, so you had to fend for yourself.”

(Read the U.K. Independent interview here)

Benjamin Zephaniah music video, Rong Radio


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Born April 15

Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452) – Italian inventor, designer, writer, “Renaissance man”

Henry James (b. 1843) – U.S. novelist, short-story writer, playwright

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Saturday April 16

Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty (b. 1947) – Scottish singer/songwriter

Read about Gerry Rafferty here and here

Read obituaries for Gerry Rafferty here and here

At the end of the 1970s he did his best work, a series of richly resonant albums that gave no hint of their creator’s inner troubles.  Rafferty was born in Paisley, near Glasgow, an unwanted third son. His father, Joseph, was an Irish-born miner. His mother, Mary Skeffington, whose name would provide a Rafferty song title, dragged young Gerry round the streets on Saturday nights so that they would not be at home when his father came back drunk. They would wait outside, in all weathers, until he had fallen asleep, to avoid a beating.

The voice, redolent of both Lennon’s and McCartney’s, yet unmistakably his own; the music, a shimmering delta of sound; the songs, romantic yet pushily sardonic – all came to fruition thanks to Gerry’s gift of perfect pitch and an obdurate determination to stick to his guns.

These were the years I worked for him. I was his personal manager – employee, not svengali – visiting the record company in LA, accompanying Gerry when he was working, and running the small office we set up for him in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sadly, my job was mostly to say “no” to people.

He did not want to have to out-platinum himself: he had money enough, and disliked being recognised. But behind an aggressive front, and a strong awareness of his own musical excellence, was fear. He turned down working with Eric Clapton, McCartney and others, telling Carla “nobody was good enough”. In truth, he dared not sit down with superstars without a drink or five. So he sat at home – now 300 acres of Kent farmland and a Queen Anne house in Hampstead, north London – and convinced himself he could work alone with Murphy. Carla said later: “He was just stalling for time.

(Michael Gray writing the
obituary for Gerry Rafferty – U.K.
Guardian, January 4, 2011)

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Mr. Rafferty’s 1978 album, “City to City,” reached No. 1 in the United States. One track, “Baker Street,” made the Top 10 in both Britain and the United States. So did “Stuck in the Middle With You,” a song Mr. Rafferty and Joe Egan recorded with their group Stealers Wheel in 1972.  “Stuck in the Middle,” written as a parody of many of Bob Dylan’s songs, ridiculed a music industry cocktail party, complaining, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”

(New York Times, January 4, 2011)

“Stuck in the Middle” music video

“Baker Street” music video

“Right Down the Line” music video (the Celtic wake interpretation?)

http://vimeo.com/1771162?ab

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Born April 16

Diane Middlebrook (b. 1939) – U.S. biographer, poet

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researching author birthdays and selling used books online at dempseybooks.com (bonanza.com/dempseybooks)
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