LitBirthdays September 18 – 24, 2011

Go To September 19 |  September 20 |  September 21 |
September 22 |   September 23 |   September 24 |

September 18

Chris Hedges
Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956) – U.S. journalist, war correspondent – Wages of Rebellion (2015)

Read about Chris Hedges here and here

I think any journalist writes because they want to effect change, even the good journalists at The New York Times. And I was very careful about what assignments I took. I didn’t go to Washington and cover the White House. I didn’t work for business. I went to the Balkan world and covered conflicts—conflicts that often my own country had a position in, or a role in. I put myself in a certain amount of physical jeopardy to give a voice to people who, without my presence, wouldn’t have one. And there was a place for this within The New York Times. Those were the only jobs that I accepted and the only jobs that I did.

Satellite Magazine, July 2011


Born September 18

Agnes de Mille (born September 18, 1905) – U.S. dancer, choreographer – Speak to me, dance with me (1973)

September 19

Oksana Zabuzhko
Oksana Zabuzhko (born September 19, 1960) – Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist – Polyovi Doslidzhennia z Ukrajins’koho Seksu / Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex (1996)

Read about Oksana Zabuzhko here

Watch Oksana Zabuzhko talk about her country and her book about it
Zabuzhko: I always warn the audience … don’t expect a Ukrainian Kama Sutra. If you think it’s about the sex life of Ukrainians, you are going to waste your money.

Read Oksana Zabuzhko’s and Halyna Hryn’s (book translator) comments on Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex

Oksana Zabuzhko: The narrator bears my first name, and was given a lot out of my own life experience. I guess Fieldwork can be called confessional literature. The reason for giving the narrator my first name, as well as much of my own biography (literary career, teaching at American universities, growing up under the Soviet regime in a Ukrainian dissident’s family) was at first merely intuitional—nearly all my friends who had read the manuscript suggested that I “change the names,” but … if the novel was to articulate certain things which Ukrainian literature has never articulated before, and be heard, all these dark and dirty secrets HAD to be pronounced “in the first person,” as a part of the author’s most personal existential experience.

Halyna Hryn (translator): At the heart of the story is a failed relationship, and here the author’s unflinching courage in dissecting the how-and-why is most gripping. What makes us love so that we overlook the abuse (and is it really abuse?) that ultimately makes our love unsustainable?

The larger story that envelops the love affair is, of course, the story of Ukraine itself, so unexpectedly liberated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, coming to grips with its suppressed history, martyrology, searching for its identity together with the heroine. The conceit is a series of lectures in which the heroine explains herself and her country to a North American audience. The task is not easy: The “stream of consciousness” long, pulsating sentences have frustrated some. Word order is somewhat different in Ukrainian: in these long sentences the last word of each phrase is the crucial link to the subsequent phrase and so it must go at the end whether it’s the natural place for it in English or not.

Read Zabuzhko’s 2007 essay on Ukraine’s relationship with Europe

The concept of “a return to Europe and a return to itself” ran like a red thread through the Ukrainian national rebirth in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus in the minds of modern Ukrainians (regardless of whether they have ever personally visited Central or Western Europe) the “myth of Europe” continues to constitute a kind of “paradise lost” – a place where justice and prosperity reign and where human rights are honored, with liberté, egalité, fraternité waving in the breeze like an invisible banner. We Ukrainians were once banished from that paradise, but now, like our neighbours the Poles and the Balts, we want to return home.

Is Europe’s culture still in a position to exert a positive influence on political realities? I have a strong suspicion that the future of democracy in the 21st century is more or less dependent on the answer to that question, and this applies to “mature” and “young” democracies alike. You can no longer establish closed societies in today’s world. The experience of the 20th century should have taught us that, regardless of where the Berlin Wall once stood and where the borders of the Schengen Zone run today, there is just one single European history, bound together deep in its heart by a funeral courtege of which we are often quite unaware (and which takes us by surprise when parts of it suddenly surface). Indeed, after two centuries of Europe’s ignoring the fact of our nation’s existence (and its subsequent surprise when we suddenly reappeared on the maps), we as the “hallway” of Europe – or perhaps more aptly, its two-century old cellar – have a whole arsenal of buried corpses. Probably nowhere else can one find more convincing proof that hushed-up history has a long life and leads an underground existence, like those rivers that flow beneath the earth but rise up to the surface sooner or later. Ukraine is a mighty river flowing out of Europe’s cellar, and it has yet to surface in its entirety.

Europe is still living mentally in the post-war era, in a world molded by the Cold War. It will hardly be possible to change that mold without digging up the “skeletons in the cellar.” The experiences of a country which managed to maintain its identity, however damaged, at a time when the logic of history dictated that it had hardly any chance of maintaining even its name, a country which began from square one just 15 years ago to resuscitate its traditions, revive its Third Estate, its middle class, to such an extent that it was able to demand its rights and freedoms through civic movements and mass demonstrations – that wealth of experience should not be absent from Europe’s collective consciousness.

Born September 19

Maud Sulter (born September 19, 1960) – Scottish / Ghanaian-descent photographer, poet


September 20

Kazumasa Oda
Kazumasa Oda (小田和正 / Oda Kazumasa) (born September 20, 1947) – Japanese singer/songwriter – “Love Story wa Totsuzen ni” (ラブ・ストーリーは突然に )

Read the Wikipedia article for Oda Kazumasa here

Born September 20

Judith Thompson (born September 20, 1954) – Canadian playwright – Palace of the End (2007)

Upton Sinclair (born September 20, 1876) – U.S. novelist – The Jungle (1906)

Charlie Kaufman (Charles Stewart Kaufman) (born September 20, 1958) – U.S. screenwriter – Being John Malkovich

Slappy White (Melvin White) (born September 20, 1921) – U.S. comedian –Elect Slappy White For Vice President



September 21

Ethan Coen Ethan Coen (born September 21, 1957) – U.S. filmmaker (with brother Joel) – True Grit (2010)

Read about Ethan Coen here and here

Article about the Coen Brothers 2011 film here

The  Coens talk about how they work together to make a film

Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones (born September 21, 1912) – U.S. animator, cartoonist, animated film director – What’s Opera, Doc? (1957)

Read about Chuck Jones here and here

Watch What’s Opera, Doc?

Chuck Jones talks about his life

Born September 21

Frédéric Beigbeder (born September 21, 1965) – French novelist, literary critic – Un roman français (2009)

Stephen King (born September 21, 1947) – U.S. novelist, short-story writer – The Shining (1977)

Leonard Cohen (born September 21, 1934) – U.S. singer/songwriter, poet

H.G. Wells (born September 21, 1866) – U.K. novelist – The Time Machine

Édouard Glissant (born September 21, 1928) – French (Martinique) writer, poet, literary critic


September 22

Rene O. Villanueva (born September 22, 1954) – Philippines playwright, screenwriter, children’s literature

Read about Rene Villanueva here and here

“His works were typified by a sense of an authentic recognition of the Filipino child’s realities, unclouded by sentimentalism or easy mawkishness. They rang true because he had an ear for his people’s language and the way they spoke it at home and in the street and so the language itself grew because of him.”
[Philippine Board on Books for Young People]

Born September 22

Ashokamitran (Jagadisa Thyagarajan) (born September 22, 1931) – Indian novelist, playwright, literary critic – Water / Thanneer (1994/1971)

György Faludy (born September 22, 1910) – Hungarian poet, memoirist – My Happy Days in Hell

Manzoor Ahmad (born September 22, 1931) – Pakistani philosopher

Svilen Noev (born September 22, 1975) – Bulgarian singer, songwriter, Ostava rock group


September 23

 Joshua Foer (born September 23, 1982) – U.S. science writer – Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything</> (2010)

Read about Joshua Foer here and here

Joshua Foer speaks of memory and life

“Can the experience that isn’t remembered be meaningful at all?”


Born September 23

Euripedes (born September 23, 480?? B.C.) – Ancient Greek playwright (tragedian)

Ana Marie Cox (born September 23, 1972) – U.S. journalist, creator of Wonkette blog; novelist – Dog Days

Pauline Réage (Anne Desclos) (born September 23, 1907) – French novelist, literary critic – Histoire d’O

Ani DiFranco (born September 23, 1970) – U.S. singer/songwriter

September 24

Eavan Boland Eavan Boland (born September 24, 1944) – Irish poet

Read about Eavan Boland here

Read about Boland’s translation of ancient Irish narrative poetry here

Read an interview with Eavan Boland here

Eavan Boland: My own mother was a painter. She was a wonderful painter, and is a great friend. But I remember my frustration – I was the youngest child of five – when she locked the door to paint. So I made up my mind to have open doors, to make my work interruption-proof if I could.And maybe that was too ambitious. But to be honest, I came to love the background hum and music of children – providing they weren’t fighting! And to a certain extent it made me relaxed and fatalistic about writing, which was actually helpful.

Q: What is your advice to writers at the beginning of their careers?

There’s a nice phrase which applies -I used to hear it in Dublin. “If a thing’s worth doing it’s worth doing badly”. So just not to be perfectionist. Because that’s what really demoralizes young writers, that sort of perfectionism.

Listen to an RTE interview with Eavan Boland here

Eavan Boland reads from her work here

As time went on it was clearer and clearer to me that there is a huge difference between the past and history. And it is much more visible in a country like Ireland. In many ways Irish history has been a story of heroes, a casting off of the oppression. But the past is a very different place. The past is a place of whispers and sighs and erasures. Where people disappear; where they’re not heroic; where they’re not recovered.

Stephen Murphy talks about why Boland’s poem “The Emigrant Irish” is so meaningful to him

Murphy: It’s hard to understand why babies have to die. You look for support wherever you can find it. For me it was my family, my friends, God, and … the poem.

The Emigrant Irish

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back——

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:

Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.


Born September 24

Brinck (Niels Brinck Kristensen) (born September 24, 1974) – Danish singer/songwriter

Nia Vardalos (born September 24, 1962) – U.S. screenwriter/actress – My Big Fat Greek Wedding

F. Scott Fitzgerald (born September 24, 1896) – U.S. novelist, screenwriter – The Great Gatsby


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