Literary Birthdays – Week of April 25 – May 1

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April 25

Grace Rasp Nuri (born April 25, 1899) – Turkish Cypriot-German novelist

“Mostly unknown today, Grace Rasp-Nuri was an early mediator between German and Turkish culture. … Grace Rasp-Nuri wrote for adults and adolescents.  Some of her works (Yussuf, Boy of Cyprus, Alima) have been translated into several languages and were on the short list for the German Literature Prize. With themes about the life of a German-Turkish couple,  the lack of education for Turkish girls, or the problems of a physically disabled child, she was often far ahead of her time.”


April 26

Gabdulla Tuqay Ğabdulla Tuqay (born April 26, 1886) Tatar poet

Read the Wikipedia entry for Gabdulla Tuqay

Театр- и зрелище и школа для народа, / Theater — a spectacle and a school for people,
Будить сердца людей- вот в чем его природа! / Waking people’s hearts — that’s its nature!
На путь неправедный он не дает свернуть, / Confronting injustice, it is not defeated,
Он к свету нас ведет, открыв нам правый путь. / It leads us to light, showing the way.

Волнуя и смеша, он заставляет снова / Touching and funny, again and again
Обдумать прошлое и смысл пережитого. / Reflecting on the past and the meaning of experience,
На сцене увидав правдивый облик свой, / On stage, seeing its true face,

Смеяться будешь ты иль плакать над собой. / You will laugh and weep.

Узнаешь: жизнь твоя светла иль непроглядна, / You’ll find your life is light, not grim,
Вот это верно в ней, а это в ней неладно. / There’s truth in it, but it is wrong.
Развить захочешь ты достойные черты -/ Develop your decency
Так новой мудростью обогатишься ты. / So the new wisdom will enrich you.

*   *   *

Но следует ему блюсти одно условье: / But one condition should be observed:
Родной народ учить с терпеньем и с любовью, / Teach native people with patience and love,
И с древа мудрости срывать тогда лишь плод, / And from the tree of wisdom, pluck a fruit,
Когда он красоту и зрелость обретет. / And find beauty and maturity.

* (Machine translation to English)

Read a biography of Tuqay here:

April 27

Edwin Morgan (born April 27, 1920)

Read the Wikipedia biography of Edwin Morgan

Visit the Edwin Morgan Archive at the Scottish Poetry Library

Canedolia excerpt

tell us about last night?
well, we had a wee ferintosh and we lay on the quiraing. it was
pure strontian!

Read more of the “Canedolia” poem
and “the top ten greatest poems of Scotland”
at the Clattery Machinery blog (October 2006)

The Loch Ness Monster’s Song

Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl?
Gdroblboblhobngbl gbl gl g g g g glbgl.
Drublhaflablhaflubhafgabhaflhafl fl fl –
gm grawwwww grf grawf awfgm graw gm.
Hovoplodok – doplodovok – plovodokot – doplodokosh?
Splgraw fok fok splgrafhatchgabrlgabrl fok splfok!
Zgra kra gka fok!
Grof grawff gahf?
Gombl mbl bl –
blm plm,
blm plm,
blm plm,

April 28

Carolyn Forché (born April 28, 1950) – U.S. poet Carolyn Forche.jpg

Read about Carolyn Forché here and here

Read a descriptive bibliography for Carolyn Forché

Poem For Maya
Dipping our bread in oil tins
we talked of morning peeling
open our rooms to a moment
of almonds, olives and wind
when we did not yet know what we were.
The days in Mallorca were alike:
footprints down goat-paths
from the beds we had left,
at night the stars locked to darkness.
At that time we were learning
to dance, take our clothes
in our fingers and open
ourselves to their hands.
The veranera was with us.
For a month the almond trees bloomed,
their droppings the delicate silks
we removed when each time a touch
took us closer to the window where
we whispered yes, there on the intricate
balconies of breath, overlooking
the rest of our lives.

Listen to Carolyn Forché read The Colonel

Read The Lightkeeper (The New Yorker, May 2010)


April 29

Egon Kisch 1932 Egon Erwin Kisch (born April 29, 1885) – Austro-Hungarian (Czech) reporter, Communist activist – Australian Landfall

Read the Wikipedia entry for Egon Kisch

Read about Kisch’s visit to Australia

Read about the writing style of Egon Erwin Kisch

The most significant literary contribution of Kisch to his time was the conception and development of reportage, a style born of the marriage between journalism and creative writing. … A characteristic sketch illustrates the author’s style and technique. “Indiodorf unter dem Davidstern” [Indian Village under the Star of David] from Entdeckungen in Mexiko is one of nearly three dozen pieces generated by Kisch’s interest in, and affection for, the country of his exile refuge.

A factual description assumes greater dimensions while the narrator stands before the altar in a prayer for the dead, recalling the members of his family. He has found safety in Mexico, a brother the same in India via China, and two others found death in a concentration camp. Millions are recalled in this prayer, and the scene is transformed as his thoughts expand to include all the victims of Hitler, devoted as they were to achieving a better mankind.

A vision reveals smoke rising from a chimney as rows of humans move towards the source of death by gas. Futility and resignation prevail. It is as if humanity had no meaning, as if there had been no striving towards wisdom, truth, justice, beauty, love, and happiness.

Excerpt from an article by Ward B. Lewis

Read excerpts of Kisch’s works in Harold B. Segel’s

Egon Erwin Kisch, the raging reporter: a bio-anthology


April 30

Aatish Kapadia (born April 30, 1976) – Indian television writer, screenwriter, actor – Khichdi series (Indian TV comedy)

Read about Aatish Kapadia here and here

Read the Wikipedia entry for the Khichdi television serial

May 1

Ignazio Silone (Secondino Tranquilli) (born May 1, 1900) – Italian novelist, essayist, political activist – The School for Dictators (1939)

photo by David E. Scherman (1946 for Life Magazine)


Read the Wikipedia entry for Ignazio Silone

Read more about Ignazio Silone in this excerpt from Stanislao G. Pugliese’s Bitter Spring – A Life of Ignazio Silone (2009)

Read Dwight MacDonald’s review of Silone’s The School for Dictators


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