Archives for category: Authors’ Birthdays

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August 16, 2013 marks the 93rd anniversary of Charles Bukowski’s birth — and next year will mark the 20th anniversary of his passing. To honor one of our favorite authors, we will release the Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology in August 2013 — and we promise the book will be available by the end of the month. (We were shooting for an August 16th release date, but for various reasons have had to push the date a few weeks ahead.)

The illustration above right by Bradley Wind will appear in the Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology, along with paintings, drawings, poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs, and photographs from about 70 writers and artists around the world.

To celebrate the master poet, this post features one of his most renowned and beloved poems.

BLUEBIRD
Poem by Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

We celebrate Herman Melville’s 194th birthday today with an erasure poem based on the opening page of Melville’s masterwork, Moby-Dick, courtesy of source material and erasure software at Wave Books.

CALL ME PARTICULAR
Erasure Poem by Silver Birch Press
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In honor of the mighty Melville’s birthday, we invite our readers to create their own Moby-Dick-inspired erasure poems and email them to silver@silverbirchpress.com. We promise to post your creations! Get started at this link.

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ABOUT HERMAN MELVILLE:  Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America. (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

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Today is Tom Robbins 77th birthday! Hard to believe that the wild and wacky author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues has reached septuagenarian status. For me, reading Robbins’ 1971 novel Another Roadside Attraction was a revelation about what a novel could do and what it could be. Thank you, Tom, for opening up our minds and inspiring us with your imagination. 

“Often the things that pop out of my typewriter regale me, especially when I am trying to say something else and in a different way only to have a kind of metamorphosis take place during the act of typing and — ­whammo! — a concept I hadn’t counted on is strutting its vaudeville on the page.”  TOM ROBBINS, ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION

Photo: Tom Robbins at home in LaConner, Washington, by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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The Spring 1958 issue of the Paris Review included an interview George Plimpton conducted with Ernest Hemingway at the author’s home outside Havana, Cuba. Hemingway invited Plimpton into his inner sanctum–his writing room–and allowed the interviewer to observe his writing methods. Here are some of Plimpton’s observations:

…on the top of one of these cluttered bookcases—the one against the wall by the east window and three feet or so from his bed…Hemingway has his “work desk”—a square foot of cramped area hemmed in by books on one side and on the other by a newspaper-covered heap of papers, manuscripts, and pamphlets. There is just enough space left on top of the bookcase for a typewriter, surmounted by a wooden reading board, five or six pencils, and a chunk of copper ore to weight down papers when the wind blows in from the east window.

A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.

When Hemingway starts on a project he always begins with a pencil, using the reading board to write on onionskin typewriter paper. He keeps a sheaf of the blank paper on a clipboard to the left of the typewriter, extracting the paper a sheet at a time from under a metal clip that reads “These Must Be Paid.” He places the paper slantwise on the reading board, leans against the board with his left arm, steadying the paper with his hand, and fills the paper with handwriting which through the years has become larger, more boyish, with a paucity of punctuation, very few capitals, and often the period marked with an X. The page completed, he clips it facedown on another clipboard that he places off to the right of the typewriter.

Hemingway shifts to the typewriter, lifting off the reading board, only when the writing is going fast and well, or when the writing is, for him at least, simple: dialogue, for instance.

He keeps track of his daily progress—“so as not to kid myself”—on a large chart made out of the side of a cardboard packing case and set up against the wall under the nose of a mounted gazelle head. The numbers on the chart showing the daily output of words differ from 450, 575, 462, 1250, back to 512, the higher figures on days Hemingway puts in extra work so he won’t feel guilty spending the following day fishing on the Gulf Stream.

Read “Ernest Hemingway: The Art of Fiction” at the Paris Review.

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“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature. (Read more at Wikipedia.org)

PHOTO: Ernest Hemingway by Jeff Morgan, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Used by Permission

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“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively . . . For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.” HUNTER S. THOMPSON

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hunter S. Thompson has been called many things — he has avid fans (Tom Wolfe called him “the greatest American comic writer of the 20th century”) and rabid detractors (Flavorwire.com recently lumped him in with its “most irrationally hated writers”). But whether you love him or hate him, today marks Hunter S. Thompson’s 76th birthday. Cheers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hunter Stockton Thompson (1937- 2005) was an American journalist and author who rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967).  He became a counterculture figure with his own brand of New Journalism he termed “Gonzo,” an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action and become central figures in their stories. Thompson remains best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972), a rumination on the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement, first serialized in Rolling Stone, and in 1998 released as a film starring Johnny Depp. (Read more at Wikipedia.org)

Portrait of Hunter S. Thompson by Jeff Morgan, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Used by Permission

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July 12, 2013 marks the 196th birthday of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),  an American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, surveyor, historian, and much more. Today,Thoreau is best remembered for his book Walden (1854), a memoir of living in the woods, close to nature. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

During his brief life — he passed away at age 44 — Thoreau spent much of his time writing, leaving behind an extensive body of work.

A written word is…the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”

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Today, there is at long last glorious rain — which I love any day of the year — in Los Angeles. And whether or not you like rain — and I don’t think most Angelenos like it, judging by their elaborate moisture-averting wardrobes — we need it to keep the dry brush from bursting into flames.

The above paragraph is a preamble to saying I woke up to the beautiful sight of a quarter-sized (including the legs) spider in my bathtub, looking for shelter from the storm. I would have left him/her there, except my cat Clancy likes to chase and eat spiders — and I didn’t think it wise for the cat or the spider. So i captured said spider in a jar that once held Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves (great with plain greek yogurt) and ushered him/her outside, where I hoped the arachnid found a place to wait out the rain.

The above two paragraphs are a preamble to marking the 114th birthday of E.B. White, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte, as most people know, was the spider that was a “a good writer” and “true friend” to Wilbur — a pig she saves from the slaughterhouse. (And for those who believe in animal totems — or who find them interesting — spiders are the totem of writers.)

So let’s enjoy a passage from the delightful, charming, profound Charlotte’s Web, a masterpiece for young and old by E.B. White.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985), was an American writer. He was a contributor to The New Yorker and a co-author of the English language style guide, The Elements of Style. He also wrote books for children, including Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. In a 2012 survey, readers of School Library Journal voted Charlotte’s Web the top children’s novel of all time. (Read more at Wikipedia.org)

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On Tuesday, July 23, 2013, the Los Angeles Visionary Association (LAVA) will host a party to celebrate Raymond Chandler’s 125th birthday. Reservations for this free event will open at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 8th, at the LAVA websiteThe festivities will take place  in the historic spaces where the legendary noir novelist learned first-hand about civic corruption, wealth, and vice.

The evening will begin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club (corner of 7th and Olive Street) — Chandler’s old stomping grounds — in the club’s newly redecorated third-floor bar, Invention, where the young oil executive played bridge and avoided returning to the offices of the Dabney Oil Syndicate, visible through the bar’s tall windows. The party will then move down the block to the Oviatt Building, the seat of power for Chandler’s greatest villain — Derace Kingsley (not-so-loosely based on James Oviatt) in the novel The Lady in the Lake  before returning to the club for a last toast to the great author.

The evening will include readings and musings on Chandler’s legacy and his impact on how people view Los Angeles—past, present, and future.

WHAT: Raymond Chandler’s 125th birthday celebration

WHEN: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7-10 p.m

WHERE: Los Angeles Athletic Club, 431 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90014

ADMISSION PRICE: Free (with cash bar)

RSVP: Starting Monday, July 8, 2013 at 10 a.m., at this link

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“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” FRANZ KAFKA

Illustration: “Neuschwanstein” (1987) by Andy Warhol.

ABOUT THE ARTWORK: Andy Warhol based this silkscreen on a tourism poster of the 19th century Neo-romanticist Neuschwanstein castle in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The Neuschwanstein has appeared in many films and served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.