Literary Birthdays – Week of March 22 – 28

March 22
Louis L’Amour Lawrence Dearborn LaMoore (born March 22, 1908)- U.S. novelist, “Western” stories – Silver Canyon (1951)

March 23

Japan’s most famed movie director Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa (born March 23, 1910) – Japanese film director, screenwriter – Rashomon (1950)

See this excerpt from Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams:

March 24
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
(born March 24, 1919) – U.S. poet –A Vast Confusion

Long long I lay in the sands
Sound of trains in the surf
in subways of the sea
And an even greater undersound
of a vast confusion in the universe
a rumbling and a roaring
as if some enormous creature turning
under sea and earth
a billion sotto voices murmuring
a vast muttering
a swelling stuttering
in ocean’s speakers
world’s voice-box heard with ear to sand
a shocked echoing
a shocking shouting
of all life’s voices lost in night
And the tape of it
someow running backwards now
through the Moog Synthesizer of time and sea
Chaos unscrambled
back to the first harmonies
And the first light
See Lawrence Ferlinghetti read his poems at a 2005 “Lunch Poems” series at the University of California, Berkeley:

March 25
Thom Loverro (born March 25, 1954) – U.S. sportswriter, columnist – Hail Victory: An Oral History of the Washington Redskins (2006)

March 26
Robert Frost (born March 26, 1874) – U.S. poet
The Woodpile (1914)Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day
I paused and said, ‘I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther- and we shall see’.
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tail slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather-
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled- and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.No runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
Or even last year’s or the year’s before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself the labor of his axe,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

Tennessee Williams
(born March 26, 1911) – U.S. playwright, short story writer – A Streetcar Named Desire

March 27


Dubravka Ugrešic (born March 27, 1949) Croatian novelist

Read about Dubravka Ugrešic here and here

An excerpt from “I am a Literary Smuggler: An Interview with Dubravka Ugrešić

The ‘five Croatian witches’ is a label which was given to me and four other Croatian journalists, writers, activists, and professors, by Croatian spin doctors. They wanted to identify us as a dangerous political group, as a dangerous female group (if five women have been accepted as dangerous, then all women are potentially dangerous). The fact that we are all educated women also contributed to their fear; all educated women are potential traitors. All in all, Croatian spin doctors used an age-old pattern: witches are evil, only women are witches and only women worship the Devil. Who is the Devil? The Devil is a foreigner;­ a Serb, Yugoslav, commie, anybody from the East, and so on.

Read an excerpt from the author’s novel From the Ministry of Pain

Goran could not make his peace with what had happened. He was a fine mathematician and much loved by his students, and even though his was a “neutral” field he’d been removed from his post from one day to the next. Much as people assured him that it was all perfectly “normal”-in times of war your average human specimen always acts like that, the same thing had happened to many people, it happened to Croatians in Serbia, to Serbs in Croatia, it happened to Muslims, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia, it happened to Jews, Albanians and Roma, it happened to everybody everywhere in that unfortunate former country of ours-they failed to make a dent in his combined bitterness and self-pity.

Read more excerpts of From the Ministry of Pain here

Abelardo Castillo (born March 27, 1935) – Argentine novelist, playwright, and short story writer

March 28

Maxim Gorky (Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov) (born March 28, 1868) – Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright in the socialist realism genre – Mother

Read about Gorky:

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Mother
Other people came from the city, oftenest among them a tall, well-built young girl with large eyes set in a thin, pale face. She was called Sashenka. There was something manly in her walk and movements; she knit her thick, dark eyebrows in a frown, and when she spoke the thin nostrils of her straight nose quivered.
She was the first to say, “We are socialists!” Her voice when she said it was loud and strident.
When the mother heard this word, she stared in dumb fright into the girl’s face. But Sashenka, half closing her eyes, said sternly and resolutely: “We must give up all our forces to the cause of the regeneration of life; we must realize that we will receive no recompense.”
The mother understood that the socialists had killed the Czar. It had happened in the days of her youth; and people had then said that the landlords, wishing to revenge themselves on the Czar for liberating the peasant serfs, had vowed not to cut their hair until the Czar should be killed. These were the persons who had been called socialists. And now she could not understand why it was that her son and his friends were socialists.
When they had all departed, she asked Pavel:
“Pavlusha, are you a socialist?”
“Yes,” he said, standing before her, straight and stalwart as always. “Why?”
The mother heaved a heavy sigh, and lowering her eyes, said:
“So, Pavlusha? Why, they are against the Czar; they killed one.”
Pavel walked up and down the room, ran his hand across his face, and, smiling, said:
“We don’t need to do that!”
He spoke to her for a long while in a low, serious voice. She looked into his face and thought:
“He will do nothing bad; he is incapable of doing bad!”
And thereafter the terrible word was repeated with increasing frequency; its sharpness wore off, and it became as familiar to her ear as scores of other words unintelligible to her. But Sashenka did not please her, and when she came the mother felt troubled and ill at ease.


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2 Responses to Literary Birthdays – Week of March 22 – 28

  1. Ah, Robert Frost… “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…” Probably my favorite poem from the 20th century.

    • litbirthdays says:

      Right. Well, we can’t leave them hanging with one line, can we?

      Mending Wall
      by Robert Frost

      Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
      That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
      And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
      And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
      The work of hunters is another thing:
      I have come after them and made repair
      Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
      But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
      To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
      No one has seen them made or heard them made,
      But at spring mending-time we find them there.
      I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
      And on a day we meet to walk the line
      And set the wall between us once again.
      We keep the wall between us as we go.
      To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
      And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
      We have to use a spell to make them balance:
      ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
      We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
      Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
      One on a side. It comes to little more:
      There where it is we do not need the wall:
      He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
      My apple trees will never get across
      And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
      He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
      Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
      If I could put a notion in his head:
      ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
      Where there are cows?
      But here there are no cows.
      Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
      What I was walling in or walling out,
      And to whom I was like to give offence.
      Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
      That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
      But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
      He said it for himself. I see him there
      Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
      In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
      He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
      Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
      He will not go behind his father’s saying,
      And he likes having thought of it so well
      He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

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