Literary Birthdays – Week of June 27 – July 3, 2010

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June 27

Paul Dunbar photo Paul L. Dunbar (b. 1872) – U.S. poet, short story writer, novelist – Lyrics of Lowly Life

Read about Paul Dunbar here aand here


I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!


June 28

Aimee Bender (b. 1969) – U.S. novelist – The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) Aimee Bender photo

Read about Aimee Bender here and here

Read an interview of Aimee Bender (Pif Magazine, November 1998)

Aimee Bender reads one of her short stories and answers questions:


June 29

Frederic Dard Frédéric Dard (b. 1921) – French novelist, crime  fiction, San-Antonio series

Read the Wikipedia article for Frédéric Charles Antoine Dard

Read the New York Times obituary for Frederic Dard

“Mr. Dard wrote almost 300 books, of which more than 200 million copies have been sold. His works included more than 150 detective novels in the ”San Antonio” series, featuring the skirt-chasing Paris police superintendent San Antonio and his partner, the bibulous Inspector Berurier.”

Read Susan Dorff’s description of Dard’s San-Antonio novels

San-A. put the humor back into the noir. He dug up cadavers in his friend’s back yard, discovered the “tout Paris” in a dead faint, and investigated his own demise. Writing in an untranslatable argot that pushed tough-guy talk to its Rabelaisian limits, he comically mixed metaphors with polymorphous puns and malapropisms. His working-class idiom delighted intellectual and blue-collar readers alike, while his literary bon mots kept everyone laughing.

The early Sanas were rationally plotted and carefully respected the laws of the genre. The rigid structure gradually eroded, however, giving way to a labyrinth of commentary and sidesteps. As San Antonio deviated more than he detected, he never hesitated to disrupt the already attenuated intrigue with private musings, unsolicited advice, answers to unasked questions, and occasional affronts to the reader. And yet the digressions did not divert the action; they were the action of these roman policiers of the absurd.

Read (in French) Frederic Dard’s biography

Frank Loesser (b. 1910) – U.S. composer / lyricist –  Guys and Dolls

Read the Wikipedia article about Frank Loesser

Visit the Frank Loesser website

“Frank Loesser wrote the lyrics to over 700 songs, wrote and composed the Pulitzer Prize winning musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, and the ultimate piece of American musical theater “Guys and Dolls, a Musical Fable of Broadway”. He won the Tony Award in 1951, as Best Composer and Lyricist. “Guys and Dolls” won for Best Musical. He was a tireless contributer to Broadway and Hollywood, and to the War effort in World War II. He was nominated for the Academy Award for “Thumbelina”(Hans Christian Andersen, 1952) and won the Academy Award for “Best Song” for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Neptune’s Daughter, 1949).”


June 30

David Frum (b. 1960) – U.S. journalist, speechwriter David Frum

Read about David Frum here and here

Frum’s work at the White House gained media attention in early 2002 after his wife, the anti-feminist writer Danielle Crittenden, bragged to some friends in an e-mail, which eventually circulated to a number of press outlets, that her husband came up with the phrase “axis of evil.” President Bush used the phrase in his January 2002 State of the Union address to describe the supposed threats posed by Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.”

(from the Institute for Policy Studies “RightWeb” profile of David Frum)


July 1

Irna Phillips photo Irna Phillips (b. 1901) – U.S. radio/television writer, soap opera creator – As the World Turns

Read a biography of Irna Phillips

Watch a tribute to the creators of soap operas

Read excerpts of Irna Phillips’ radio scripts
Speaking of SoapOperas
by Robert Clyde Allen


July 2

Evelyn Lau photo by Alex Waterhouse Hayward

photo: Alex Waterhouse Hayward

Evelyn Lau (b. 1971) – Canadian poet, memoirist, novelist – Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid (1989)

Read the Wikipedia article about Evelyn Lau

Find a short bio and links pertaining to Evelyn Lau here

Listen to Evelyn Lau read her poems


July 3

Kid Sister

Kid Sister (Melisa Young) (b. 1980) – U.S. singer/songwriter – Pro Nails

Read about Kid Sister here and here

I think a lot of artists suffer silently through bouts of major depression and thoughts of suicide, probably more than we know. No one ever speaks up about it though because it’s deemed inappropriate or too heavy, but the reality is this business kills people. The ups and downs are constant and extreme, and that’s just the way it is. And for me personally they were very difficult waves to ride. I found myself watching the Joan [Rivers] episode of Louie and her documentary A Piece Of Work over and over again just to get through the day sometimes because she so eloquently breaks down what it takes to survive in this world. She said, “You do it because we love it more than anything else… I wanna tell you it gets better but it doesn’t get better, YOU get better.” And she was right.

Watch the music video “Pro Nails”

Got her toes done up, with her fingernails matching
Got her toes done up with her fingernails matching
Got Got her toes done up with her fingernails matching
Toes, toes done up with her fingernails matching

Shake it up up rock your body and
Make it knock knock when you’re partyin
Take a break break in the audience
Do your footwork break and stop again
I’m lookin sharp you can’t compete with a champ
Steady flickin I’m holdin down that layaway rack
Aye, rhinestones all in they face
Gold charms and paper chase
Talk smack from around the way
Gotta put these chicken heads in they place
I ain’t rockin no stupid bapes
Ain’t trippin I’ll juke all day
I ain’t slippin cause either way
When I hit the block all the people say


Aye yo this muther****** jammin
I’m on it it’s an anthem
Who is that in the phantom?
Please no cameras
They gone have me on ConcreteLoop in my pajamas
To hide the goods I would need pants big as Hammer’s
I be tippin them dancers
They be sayin I’m handsome
I was pretty before the dough
But now I’m just the man
You remind me of my old chick
On that eighty four dish
Did you see the way she got her toes did?


Girls be so thirsty thirsty
Fast forward to the end of my song
And say third verse me verse me
Whenever I hit the block I see
Tricks try to rehearse me hearse me
From manicure sets to silky weaves
They be so grimy, nasty, bogus
Germy, dirty
Uh oh
Sho’ did
You ain’t slick
Naw, let the pioneer blast my ****
Wait a minute
Hold up
Bubble letters on my butt say “Fresh”
Oops I’m a go
Nails like whoa
Acrylic base
Top all gold
Colors on my nails
To the paint on my toes
Stay fresh I’m accustomed to gold


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