Literary Birthdays December 13 – 19

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December 13

Amy Lee (b. 1981) – U.S. songwriter, musician, lead singer of Evanescence

Watch the music video of Call Me When You’re Sober

Excerpt from Call Me When You’re Sober lyrics:

So don’t cry to me
If you loved me
You would be here with me
You want me
Come find me
Make up your mind

You never call me when you’re sober
You only want it ’cause it’s over – It’s over

Visit the fansite for Amy Lee:


December 14

Lucrecia Martel (b. 1966) – Argentinian film director, screenwriter – La Ciénaga / The Swamp (2001)

Watch a scene from La Cienaga:

Read this interview with Lucrecia Martel from the
2008 New York  Film Festival:

“Martel’s camera captures two different kinds of people occupying spaces: the bourgeois extended family to which Vero belongs and the servants and workers who constantly surround them. These people circle each other—they even interact—but they seem to live in two different worlds.”


December 15

Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof (b. 1859) – Polish philologist who constructed the Esperanto language – Provo de gramatiko de novjuda lingvo kaj Alvoko al la juda intelektularo / Grammar of a new Jewish language for the Jewish intellecual (A Yiddish Grammar)

Read the Esperanto timeline here:

Read an example of Esperanto — the poem Upon the First Snow-Storm of the Season by Ralph Dumain

Watch William Shatner speaking Esperanto in this film clip from Incubus

“Gajan Kristnaskon!” [Merry Christmas]


December 16

Barbara Smith (b. 1946) – U.S. politician, feminist writer

Read Barbara Smith’s essay “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism”

“What I want this essay to do is lead everyone who reads it to examine everything that they have ever thought and believed about feminist culture and to ask themselves how their thoughts connect to the reality of Black women’s writing and lives. I want to encourage in white women, as a first step, a sane accountability to all the women who write and live on this soil. I want most of all for Black women and Black lesbians somehow not to be so alone.”

Read the blog discussion of Smith’s essay:

Read this 2008 interview of Barbara Smith

Watch this excerpt from Marlon Riggs’ documentary
Black Is … Black Ain’t (Barbara Smith at minute 7:47)


December 17

William Safire (b. 1929) – U.S. columnist, etymologist, speechwriter – “On Language” (New York Times column)

Read these obituaries about William Safire

Watch Bill Safire explaining common phrases in
American English language


December 18

Alfred Bester (b. 1913) U.S. science fiction novelist, TV and radio writer – The Demolished Man (1953)

Read the Wikipedia biography:

Bester’s bestest joke:

“And the bartender says to Renee Descartes, “Another beer?” And Descartes says, “I think not,” and disappears”


December 19

Gisèle Freund (b. 1908) German-born French photographer – Photographie et société (1974)

Read Gisele Freund’s thoughts on how editors can misconstrue the artist’s intent through the use of captions:


Freund talks about her life and work in this German TV interview (1 hour, in German)

Listen to an interview of Freund in French (1 hour) here

Read the New York Times obituary for Gisele Freund:

“Ms. Freund was one of Europe’s most prominent photographers and a pillar among French feminist intellectuals after fleeing Nazi Germany and settling in Paris in the 1930’s. In a 1996 interview, Ms. Freund said she read her subjects’ work and often spent hours discussing their books with them before taking a portrait.

”This was essential to gaining their confidence,” she said of Sartre, de Beauvoir, Malraux and Breton. ”I tell many young photographers to do the same thing, but so often they don’t want to read about their subjects, they just want to take pictures. For me, at least, studying my subjects first and knowing them personally was essential to taking a good picture.”

Visit the Gisele Freund photo collection:


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