Literary Birthdays – May 31 – June 6

May 31

Judith Wright Judith Wright (born May 31, 1915) – Australian poet, environmentalist, human rights activist
Bora Ring
The song is gone; the dance
is secret with the dancers in the earth,
the ritual useless, and the tribal story
lost in an alien tale.Only the grass stands up
to mark the dancing-ring; the apple-gums
posture and mime past corroboree,
murmur a broken chant.The hunter is gone; the spear
is splintered underground, the painted bodies
a dream the world breathed sleeping and forgot.
The nomad feet are still.Only the rider’s heart
halts at a sightless shadow, an unsaid word
that fastens in the blood of the ancient curse,
the fear as old as Cain.

Read the transcript of an Australian Broadcast Corporation May 2008 podcast about Judith Wright’s poem Rockpool

[Transcript of the program:]

Walt Whitman (born May 31, 1819) – U.S. poet

June 1

Naguib Surur (born June 1, 1932) – Egyptian playwright and poet

Read these articles about Surur’s controversial poem Kuss Ummiyyat:

June 2

Xiao Hong

Xiao Hong (born June 2, 1911) – Chinese novelist,  poet,  short story writer – The Field of Life and Death / Sheng Si Chang (1934)

Read about Xiao Hong in the Wikipedia article here and in this New York Times review of a film about her life here

June 3

Allen Ginsberg

(Irwin) Allen Ginsberg (born June 3, 1926) – U.S. poet

A Supermarket in California (1955)

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I
walked down the streets under the trees with a
headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes! – and you, Garcia Lorca,
what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing
the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary
fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy,
and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets?
The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past
blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood
watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Listen to Allen Ginsberg read his poem A Supermarket in California:

June 4

Jin Au Yeung

Jin Au-Yeung (born June 4. 1982) – Chinese Rapper

Read about Jin Au Yeung here:

June 5

Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca (born June 5, 1898) – Spanish poet

Song of First Desire

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.
And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
A nightingale.

turn orange-colored.
turn the color of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
A heart.

And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

turn orange-colored.
turn the color of love!

Cancioncilla del primer beso

En la mañana verde,
quería ser corazón.

Y en la tarde madura
quería ser ruiseñor.

ponte color de naranja.
ponte color de amor)

En la mañana viva,
yo quería ser yo.

Y en la tarde caída
quería ser mi voz.

ponte color naranja!
ponte color de amor!

Read some of Lorca’s poems:

June 6

Alexander (or Aleksandr) (Sergeyevich) Pushkin (born June 6, 1799) – Russian poet, playwright – Boris Godunov (1825)

Read the Wikipedia biography of Pushkin here.

Read about Pushkin’s great-grandfather, Ibrahim Petrovitch Gannibal, his black great-grandfather:

Read Pushkin’s “I Loved You” here

I loved you:  yet the love, maybe,
Has not extinguished in my heart;
But hence may not it trouble thee;
I do not want to make you sad.

I loved you hopelessly and mutely,
Now with shyness, now with jealousy being vexed;
I loved you so sincerely, so fondly,
Likewise may someone love you next…


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