Happy Birthday, Cormac McCarthy!

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On this day in 1933, Cormac McCarthy was born. The great American novelist moved around a lot, and served in the Air Force for four years. After returning to the University of Tennessee in 1957, he was awarded an Ingram-Merrill Award for creative writing. He has published ten novels and has an eleventh on the way.

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Happy Birthday, Pablo Neruda: Quotes about Life (and Love)

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Born in Chile on July 12, 1904, we recognize Pablo Neruda 112 years later as a political activist and eclectic poet. As a Communist holding several Chilean governmental posts, Neruda faced danger when Radical Party presidential candidate Gabriel González Videla turned against the Communist Party. Continue Reading ›

Celebrate Limerick Day: Learn About Edward Lear

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“There once was a man named Lear
Who wrote poems that pleased the ear,
He lived long ago,
But his name we do know,
Because his work still brings us great cheer!”

–Kate Gawlowski

Why do we love limericks? It might be the light language, the funny words, and the clever rhymes, all nicely pieced together with a happy bit of nonsense. But limerick-lovers today may not be immediately familiar with Edward Lear—though he is the man who championed the limerick over 150 years ago. (Believe it or not, there was a time before the creation of limericks, and it must have been a dark time at that.) Continue Reading ›

Happy Birthday, Beckett! Celebrate the (Absurd) “Waiting for Godot” Author

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Samuel Beckett was a most interesting man—a fact that can be immediately confirmed by the author’s influential contributions to the Absurdist Movement (but we’ll get to what that is in a moment).

Though born and raised in Ireland, Beckett fell in love with Paris in his 20s after graduating from Trinity College with a B.A. in modern languages and setting out on a cycling tour of France. There the young author befriended and made a pseudo-father-figure of fellow author and Irishman James Joyce, who provided a great deal of encouragement and assistance to Beckett and his work. Continue Reading ›

How To Live a Life That Matters: Maya Angelou on Love and Attitude

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Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 and is true to the title of her own poem, a “Phenomenal Woman.” Few people can say they have been a novelist, actress, singer, director, scholar, researcher, poet, and brothel madam, yet Angelou has filled all of these roles and many more, including being an integral part of the civil rights movement.

Decades after her time on Earth, many of us still hold I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsAnd Still I Rise“Amazing Peace,” and her other works close to our hearts. As a survivor of poverty, familial discord, and a harrowing childhood, Angelou was able to turn her remarkable, tumultuous life into creative inspiration that is still inspiring us today. Continue Reading ›

The Western Flyer: Steinbeck’s Boat Flying Through Time

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In Port Townsend—a charming, sleepy, coastal town nestled in the northeastern end of Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula—a piece of history is being remastered and preserved. The Western Flyer, a 77-foot fishing boat built in 1937, sits docked at Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op as she undergoes restoration. Continue Reading ›