Literary Birthdays – January 17 – 23

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January 17

Benjamin Franklin (b. 1706) – U.S. philosopher, statesman, historian – The Way to Wealth  25734

Read about Benjamin Franklin’s writings here

January 18


A.A. Milne (b. 1882) – U.K. author – Winnie the Pooh

Read the Authors Calendar biography of A. A. Milne

Read about A.A. Milne and bearing the burden of a famous bear



January 19

Edgar Allan Poe (b. 1809) – U.S. poet, essayist, mystery and horror writer  Edgar Allan Poe.jpg

Read the Poe Calendar blog, dedicated to
Poe’s bicentennial year of 2009


January 20

Ernesto Cardenal Ernesto Cardenal (b. 1925) – Nicaraguan priest, poet, theologian

Read about Ernesto Cardenal here

here and here


January 21

Judith Merril (b. 1923) – U.S. science fiction writer judytyper

Visit the Judith Merril website

Read Matthew Cheney’s blog post about Merril’s story “Dead Center”

“the most unjustly neglected SF story of all time”


January 22


Arkady Gaidar (b. 1904) – Russian writer, children’s stories – Timur and His Gang (1940)

Read a short biography here

Watch a film version [Russian language] of Gaidar’s
most popular book,
Timur and his Gang
Photo montage, Arkady Gaidar:


January 23

 derek-walcott Derek Walcott (b. 1930) –  Caribbean-American poet; 1992 Nobel Literature prize

Listen to Derek Walcott read his poem “Sea Grapes”

The Glory Trumpeter

Old Eddie’s face, wrinkled with river lights,
Looked like a Mississippi man’s. The eyes,
Derisive and avuncular at once,
Swivelling, fixed me. They’d seen
Too many wakes, too many cathouse nights.
The bony, idle fingers on the valves
Of his knee-cradled horn could tear
Through ‘Georgia on My Mind’ or ‘Jesus Saves’
With the same fury of indifference,
If what propelled such frenzy was despair.

Now, as the eyes sealed in the ashen flesh,
And Eddie, like a deacon at his prayer,
Rose, tilting the bright horn, I saw a flash
Of gulls and pigeons from the dunes of coal
Near my grandmother’s barracks on the wharves,
I saw the sallow faces of those men
Who sighed as if they spoke into their graves
About the Negro in America. That was when
The Sunday comics sprawled out on her floor,
Sent from the States, had a particular odour,
A smell of money mingled with man’s sweat.

And yet, if Eddie’s features held our fate,
Secure in childhood I did not know then
A jesus-ragtime or gut-bucket blues
To the bowed heads of the lean, compliant men
Back from the states in their funereal serge,
Black, rusty Homburgs and limp waiters’ ties
With honey accents and lard-coloured eyes
Was Joshua’s ram’s horn wailing for the Jews
Of patient bitterness or bitter siege.

Now it was that as Eddie turned his back
On our young crowd out feteing, swilling liquor,
And blew, eyes closed, one foot up, out to sea,
His horn aimed at those cities of the Gulf,
Mobile and Galveston and sweetly meted
The horn of plenty through a bitter cup,
In lonely exaltation blaming me
For all whom race and exile have defeated,
For my own uncle in America,
That living there I  never could  look up.

Derek Walcott reading The Glory Trumpeter


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