LitBirthdays March 6 -12, 2011

March is

Women’s History Month


Small Press Month

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March 6

Andrzej Wajda
Andrzej Wajda (b. 1926) – Polish film director, screenwriter – Katyn (2007)

Read about Andrzej Wajda here and here

Watch the 2000 Academy Awards tribute to Andrzej Wajda

“the most important thing is to make them think”

Born March 6

Teru Miyamoto

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

March 7

Muhsin Al-Ramli (Arabic: محسن الرملي‎; (b. 1967) – Iraqi scholar, translator, novelist, poet – Scattered Crumbs (2000)

Read the Wikipedia article about Muhsin Al-Ramli

Read an excerpt from Scattered Crumbs

Sad stories become monotonous in Iraq because of their abundance. Each person has trouble that he stopped talking about because his auditors have their own troubles and shut him up with a trite “Even the mourner is dead.” Then after they shut him up, they take to singing Yussuf Umar’s song “The mourner died, Fattuma,” which used to get Yussuf Umar jailed under the pretext “it corrupts public morals.”

Visit Muhsin Al-Ramli’s blog

Watch / Listen to Al-Ramli reading his poem “No a liberar Iraq de mi” / (“No Iraq liberation for me”)

This ink spilled on your papers
is the blood of my country.
This light pouring out of your screens
Is the sparkle in the eyes of the children of Basora.
This one that is sobbing in the darkness of his exile
Is me;
Orphan after you have killed my parents: Tigris and Euphrates;
Widow after you have crucified my soul mate: Iraq
Oh…for you, my land: crucified on the crosses of your desires.

(Read the whole poem here)

Read more about the poem here and here

Muhsin Al Ramli: I started to consider journalism, for it seemed to be similar with what I really wanted to study but unfortunately couldn’t. Then by chance, my friend Ibrahim Hassan Nasser, who was also a writer and who was killed in the war a few years later, stopped by and told me: “You don’t need to study journalism to be a journalist as long as you have the ability to write.  But in order to be a journalist you must, like every intellectual, speak a second language.” He was right in his words, but I despised the English language and ran away from it, so I tore apart the idea of learning it and told him: “I cant stand the English language” and he replied: “How about Spanish?” My friend then asked me: “How would you like to be able to read “A hundred years of Solitude” in its original Spanish version?” and I answered: “That would be amazing”.

The execution of my brother, Hassan Mutlak, took place in 1990 for his participation in the coup d’état against the regime of the time. The consequences and torture that individuals receive by the regime for this kind of situation are well known, and the family of the victim suddenly find themselves in a very delicate situation, as did we.   …Therefore, I went to Jordan, without knowing anybody there and with only a hundred dollars in my pocket. I took on any job that came my way, and after a while, I slowly integrated myself into the national Jordanian press. I would translate articles and write for newspapers, and this start allowed me to meet and befriend many great people. As a matter of fact, most of my best friends now are Jordanian.

Born March 7

Robin Becker

Georges Perec

March 8

Hafid Bouazza (b. 1970 – Moroccan-Dutch novelist, playwright –
Heidense vreugde / druk 1: gepeins en gezang (Pagan Joys, Volume 1: Meditation and Chanting) (2011)
Hafid Bouassa

Read about Hafid Bouazza here

Listen to Bouazza’s story Spot Vogel / Mockingbird

Read an excerpt from the Mockingbird short story collection here

I even survived a winter night on a bench under a plane tree in a square in Amsterdam. I was covered by the feathery snow, and the lights burned red, green and yellow, and behind those lights people celebrated their weekend; I could only smile under the white fall, at the plumelets that the flakes tried in vain to shape into wings on my shoulders and about me, and I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up, like a uselessly fletched butterfly who, the coat tails covered by winter’s frost, has only one option left, namely, life, and lies half-dead until the cheerful spring (cheerful spring!) and the sun from their quickening eyes dart forth a sparkle of the living fire, which warms up the frozen fly and inspires its little breast with new spirit.

Read about Hafid Mouazza’s most recent book, Pagan Joys, a collection of essays about literature and the arts – (Dutch language)

Born March 8

Carole Bayer Sager

Kenneth Grahame

March 9

Ismael Serrano
Ismael Serrano (b. 1974) – Spanish singer/songwriter

Read about Ismael Serrano here and here

Recuerdo / I Remember

Me levanto temprano, moribundo.
Perezoso resucito, bienvenido al mundo.
Con noticias asesinas me tomo el desayuno.

Camino del trabajo, en el metro,
aburrido vigilo las caras de los viajeros,
compañeros en la rutina y en los bostezos.

Y en el asiento de enfrente,
un rostro de repente,
claro ilumina el vagón.

Esos gestos traen recuerdos
de otros paisajes, otros tiempos,
en los que una suerte mejor me conoció.

No me atrevo a decir nada, no estoy seguro,
aunque esos ojos, sin duda, son los suyos,
más cargados de nostalgia, quizás más oscuros.

Pero creo que eres tú y estás casi igual,
tan hermosa como entonces, quizás más.
Sigues pareciendo la chica más triste de la ciudad.

Listen to Ismael Serrano perform Recuerdo


Madrid, deshabitado como mi colchón
el verano en que me hice mayor,
y ella que ya no llama.

Tanta ciudad y tan poco por hacer,
gente que sueña su siesta y que
mira por la ventana.

Gente que miente por un trozo de calor,
que reza por que pare el ascensor,
atrapado contigo.

Madres que pieden a sus hijos al nacer,
buscando entre tus piernas lo que ayer
han dado por perdido.

Kilómetro Cero,
respira en el centro de la ciudad
el alma que se pierde al escapar.
Kilómetro Cero,
comienzo de los días que han de venir,
la lluvia que se derrama por ti.

Bares en los que la calma y la cerveza
salvan nuestra vida, y mi cabeza
soñando estar bajo tu ropa.

Promesas que se dicen en la cama,
luces que se clavan en tu espalda,
deja que yo te vista ahora.

Bajo unas ruedas mi mala sombra arrojaré,
quizás así interprete ese papel
en el que soy tu abrigo.

Mujeres que quizás hoy no puedas pagar
cuestionan con sus labios la verdad
de que aún seguimos vivos.

Kilómetro Cero,
respira en el centro de la ciudad
el alma que se pierde al escapar.
Kilómetro Cero,
comienzo de los días que han de venir,
la lluvia que se derrama por ti.

Born March 9


Robert James (Bobby) Fischer

Mickey Spillane

March 10

Keren Ann
Keren Ann Zeidel (Hebrew: קרן אן זיידל‎ ) (b. 1974) – Israeli-Dutch singer/songwriter

Read the Wikipedia article about Keren Ann

Watch / Listen to Keren Ann perform “I’m Not Going Anywhere”

This is why I always wonder, I’m a pond full of regrets
I always try to not remember rather than forget
This is why I always whisper when vagabonds are passing by
I tend to keep myself away from their goodbyes…

Born March 10

Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Lorenzo Da Ponte

March 11

Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams (b. 1952) – U.K. novelist, radio dramatist – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

Read about Douglas Adams here and here

Listen to audio interviews with Douglas Adams

(The idea for writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide came while) lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck. I was hitchhiking through Europe, and I had a copy of the book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe.

Read about Towel Day, in honor of Douglas Adams’s reference in Hitchhiker’s Guide

“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”

Born March 11

Ezra Jack Keats

Jean “Binta” Breeze

Alba de Cespedes

March 12

Virginia Hamilton (b. 1934) – U.S. children’s/young adult fiction & nonfiction writer – Zeely (1967)

Read about Virginia Hamilton here

Read the New York Times obituary for Virginia Hamilton

She came from a family of storytellers. Ms. Hamilton’s grandfather Levi Perry was born a slave in Virginia and crossed the Ohio River to freedom. Once a year, she wrote, he gathered his children around him. “Set down,” he would say, “and I will tell you about slavery and why I ran, so that it will never happen to you.” Ms. Hamilton was named Virginia in remembrance of his flight.

Read the U.K Guardian assessment of Hamilton’s work

They were not problem novels exploring deprived inner-city childhoods. Instead, they were stories of insight and imagination, rural as much as urban, as in Zeely (1967), about a black girl and her fantasies around the beautiful swine shepherdess descended from an African queen.

It is the imaginative development of characters that is of significance; the stories are reflective rather than active. None of them reached Britain, which lagged behind in giving space to black children’s writers. But MC Higgins, The Great, with its powerful sense of place and distinctive use of language, won the Newbery medal, the National Book Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, cementing Hamilton’s reputation, and making her the first African-American writer to win a major children’s book prize. In 1992, she won the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, among the most prestigious inter- national awards in children’s literature.

Watch a video in praise of Hamilton’s MC Higgins, The Great

Born March 12

Tian Han 田汉 (b. 1898) – Chinese revolutionary playwright

Jack (Jean Lous) Kerouac (b. 1922) – U.S. author and poet

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