LitBirthdays October 9 – 15, 2011

Go To October 10| October 11| October 12| October 13| October 14| October 15|

October is

National Book


October 9

Jody Williams
Jody Williams (born October 9, 1950) – U.S. humanitarian activist, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize – Banning Landmines: Disarmament, Citizen Diplomacy, and Human Security (2008)

Read about Jody Williams here and here

Watch, listen to Jody Williams talk about how she became an activistIn 1981 I was at a subway stop in Washington DC and I was handed a brochure that said, “El Salvador, Another Vietnam?” Just because they had put Vietnam there, it made me want to read it. I ended up in a church basement in a meeting about what was being done in El Salvador with my tax dollars as a U.S. citizen. I expected Che Guevara, but it was a Salvadoran gentleman in a three-piece suit. He was inviting citizens in the room to become involved, to try to mitigate the impact of U.S. pressure. Well, I started handing out those little brochures and twenty-some odd years later, I am still an activist. Sometimes people, of all ages, think that they cannot make a contribution to a better world. I do not believe that in the least. You do not have to be a full-time activist to make the world a better place. Each and very one of us cares about something. I don’t know what your issue is, but seize it. Find an organization working on it — you have no excuse, because in today’s world we can find them on the Internet — and volunteer. Give one hour a month. Maybe you will become so engaged that you’ll give two hours a month. Imagine if all the people who believed in a better world did that? What our world could and would be.


Born October 9

Ivo Andric (born October 9, 1892) – Yugoslav (Croatian) novelist, 1961 literature Nobel Prize winner – The Bridge on the Drina (1945)

John Lennon (born October 9, 1940) – U.K. singer/songwriter – “Julia” The Beatles / The White Album (1968)

Listen to John Lennon’s song “Imagine”

performed by Playing For Change

and performed by John Lennon in 1971

Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948) – U.S. singer/songwriter – Love Is Strange (2010)

October 10

Dilsa Demirbag Sten (born October 10, 1969) – Swedish / Kurdish author, journalist – Stamtavlor / Pedigrees (2005) Dilsa_Demirbag-Sten

Read about Dilsa Demirbag here

Born October 10

Ken Saro-Wiwa (born October 10, 1941) – Nigerian activist, dramatist, diarist, poet – The Transistor Radio

Frederick Barthelme (born October 10, 1943 ) – U.S. short story writer, novelist – “Shopgirls”


October 11

Amos Gitai
Amos Gitai (born October 11, 1950) – Israeli filmmaker – One Day You’ll Understand (2008)

Read about Amos Gitai here and here

An description of Gitai’s film work and an interview with him here

Born October 11

Thích Nhất Hạnh (born October 11, 1926 ) – Vietnamese / French Buddhist monk – Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (1991)

Elmore Leonard (born Octobr 11, 1925) – U.S. novelist – Get Shorty (1991)


October 12

Rafael Abalos
Rafael Ábalos (born October 12, 1956) – Spanish novelist, young adult fantasy – Grimpow: The Invisible Road (2005)

Read about Rafael Abalos here

Read the OF Blog review of Grimpow: The Invisible Road Grimpow: The Invisible Roadis a medieval mystery. The title character, Grimpow, is an orphaned boy of around 12 or 13 years of age living in 14th century France. Living an itinerant life under the tutelage of a sometime-thief named Durlib, Grimpow and Durlib one day discover the body of a murdered man, whose clothing and possessions mark him as a person of importance. In the dead man’s right hand, a polished stone is held. After Grimlow takes it, he begins to see visions and to be able to understand all written languages, quite remarkable for an illiterate youth of the High Middle Ages. There is also a scroll containing some mysteries that leads Grimpow on a road that takes him through some of the more tumultuous events in 14th century France that had such a great historical impact.

Watch an interview with Abalos (in Spanish)

Born October 12

Richard Price (born October 12, 1949) – U.S. screenwriter, novelist – Color of Money (1986)

Ding Ling (Jiǎng Bīngzhī 蒋冰之) (born October 12, 1904) – Chinese short story writer, novelist – In the Darkness / Zai Heianzhong (1928)


October 13

Selima Hill (born October 13, 1945) – U.K poet – Violet (1997)

Selima Hill

photo by Claire McNamee

Read about Selima Hill here and here

Read Paul Vermeersch’s blog post about Selima Hill here

Perhaps because her poetry is so inwardly potent, so complex in its evocative power and yet so crystalline, so seemingly simple in its execution, that some critics and academics have neglected to tout the excellence of her work because it doesn’t flatter their own.

A review of Selima Hill’s poems

Like the great Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun, whose work Hill’s resembles, her starting point, biographically at least, was visual art. Like Salamun she is a surrealist, using techniques of juxtaposition, interruption and symbolism to articulate narratives of the unconscious. Those narratives are the matter of universal, and universally recognisable, psychodrama. Despite Hill’s recently “outing” herself as living with Asperger’s syndrome, hers is a poetry of piercing emotional apprehension, lightly worn: “Although she doesn’t know what it is / she knows this isn’t it / [. . .] Penetrative sex and housewifery / do not really interest her that much” (“Penetrative Sex and Housewifery”). “The man who burns her burns her all the time. / Why? / Because he loves her!” (“Turpentine”).

[U.K. Guardian review by Fiona Sampson of Hill’s books Gloria and The Hat]

Read Bill Greenwell’s review of Hill’s book Fruitcake here

Hill is essentially a beady-eyed surrealist, who can snaffle a moment, however painful, and the moments are often painful, and turn it into something weird, unforgettable.

Read an interview with Selima Hill

Selima Hill: The person I am is much nicer than the person I think I ought to be… Poets in their poems feel safe. And when we feel safe we feel free. Free to love. To trust our reader. To forgive our tormentors. To be tender. To meet God, and camels and suitcases and dogs and lettuces… ‘If you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail’ (Nietzsche). If you are a poet, everything begins to look beautiful! I don’t mean you have to like it (it, the world, everything) – but you do have to love it. This is what my poetry can say.

Please can I have a man

Please can I have a man who wears corduroy.
Please can I have a man
who knows the names of 100 different roses;
who doesn’t mind my absent-minded rabbits
wandering in and out
as if they own the place,
who makes me creamy curries from fresh lemongrass,

who walks like Belmondo in A Bout de Souffle;
who sticks all my carefully-selected postcards –
sent from exotic cities
he doesn’t expect to come with me to,
but would if I asked, which I will do –
with nobody else’s, up his bedroom wall,
starting with Ivy, the Famous Diving Pig,

whose picture, in action, I bought ten copies of;
who talks like Belmondo too, with lips as smooth
and tightly-packed as chocolate-coated
(melting chocolate) peony buds;
who knows that piling himself drunkenly on top of me
like a duvet stuffed with library books and shopping bags
is very easy: please can I have a man

who is not prepared to do that.
Who is not prepared to say I’m pretty either.
Who, when I come trotting in from the bathroom
like a squealing freshly-scrubbed piglet
that likes nothing better than a binge
of being affectionate and undisciplined and uncomplicated,
opens his arms like a trough for me to dive into.

[from Violet (1997)]

Born October 13

Christine Nöstlinger (born October 13, 1936) – Austrian writer, children / young adult books, TV, radio – Conrad: The Factory-Made Boy (1999)

Lenny Bruce (born October 13, 1925) – U.S. comedian


October 14

Hannah Arendt (born October 14, 1906) – German-U.S. philosopher and political theorist – The Origins of Totalitarianism (1950)

Read about Hannah Arendt here and here

Hannah Arendt caused a stir in 1961 with her reportage about the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. Her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil breaks with the notion that evil is the result of some demonically driven will-power. Eichmann appears simply as a bureaucrat who served as a cog in the machinery of extermination.

[From the FemBio biography]

Read The Relative Absolute blog on Hannah Arendt
In a letter to Karl Jaspers, dated March 4, 1951, Hannah Arendt wrote the following on ‘radical evil’: ‘What radical evil is I don’t know, but it seems to me it somehow has to do with the following phenomenon: making human beings as human beings superfluous … This happens as soon as all unpredictability- which, in human beings, is the equivalent of spontaneity- is eliminated. And all this in turn arises from- or, better, goes along with- the delusion of the omnipotence (not simply of the lust for power) of an individual man. If an individual man qua man were omnipotent, then there is in fact no reason why men in the plural should exist at all – just as in monotheism it is only God’s omnipotence that makes him ONE. So, in this same way, the omnipotence of an individual man would make men superfluous.’ (Kohler, Lotte and Hans Saner, Hannah Arendt Karl Jaspers: Correspondence 1926-1969, #109, 166.)

The Library of Congress biography timeline for Hannah Arendt

Watch an interview of Hannah Arendt done by Günter Gaus in 1964
here ( German with Spanish subtitles)

and read the transcript (in German) here


Born October 14

Erik Johan Stagnelius (born October 14, 1793) – Swedish poet

Edward Estlin Cummings (born October 14, 1894) – U.S. poet, artist

October 15

Lindahl art


Hans Lindahl (born October 15, 1954) – Swedish comic book illustrator and author – “Devil – The Wolf Who Cannot Die” / “Ulven som ikke kan dø” (Phantom / Fantomet comic book, Frew 1376 (2004, No. 4)
Hans Lindahl

Read about Hans Lindahl here and here

Read an interview with Hans Lindahl here

Hans Lindahl: In 1979, Semic started publishing a magazine for amateurs in Sweden called Svenska serier (Swedish comics). I read the advertisement of the magazine in a summer issue of the Phantom that year, and then I thought: Now I have my great chance to get a comic published.

The Phantom is a very interesting and complex figure, much because he has never been very popular in USA. You can only imagine how it would have developed if it had become a normal American magazine comic with the American moral codes which handicapped the series very much in the 50-s and 60-s.

The story about Devil (Frew 1376) is also one of my absolute favorites, since the wolf is my all time favorite in the universe of the Phantom. The reason for that is that while I was waiting for my first Phantom script in 1982, Buried Alive, editor Granberg asked to try to draw Devil as the wolf he was, not like a Schäfer dog as many other artists used to. So I walked down to our Royal Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, armed with pen and paper, and drew the wolves exhibited there. Since that day I have had a preference for Devil.

Read a summary of the Phantom comic series here

Born October 15

Biljana Srbljanović (born October 15, 1970) – Swedish/Serbian playwright, activist- The Belgrade Trilogy (1995) [available in the book Eastern Promise ]

Mario Puzo (born October 15, 1920) – U.S. novelist – Godfather (1969)


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