Archives for category: Birthdays

4 years
We just received a reminder from WordPress that today — June 24, 2016 — is our blog’s 4th anniversary! Thank you to all of our visitors over the past four years who, as of today, at 4:15 p.m. in Los Angeles, have visited a total of 742,016 times (yes, 3/4 of a million — each day, we are getting closer to the big number!).  Thanks to the blog’s current 8,804 followers!

We started the blog on a whim, with no idea where to take it — and meandered for a while (a long while) before deciding to issue calls for submissions around various writing prompts, including (so far):

All About My Name Poetry Series
April Fool’s Day Erasure Poetry Series
Beach & Pool Memories Poetry & Prose Series
Beat Erasure Poetry Series
Celebrity Free Verse Poetry Series
Half New Year Poetry Series
I Am Waiting Poetry Series
Learning to Drive Poetry & Prose Series
Looks Like Me Ekphrastic Poetry Series
May Poetry Series
Me, During the Holidays Poetry & Prose Series
Me, as a Child Poetry Series
Me, in Fiction Poetry & Prose Series
My Imaginary Skill Poetry & Prose Series
My Mane Memories Poetry & Prose Series
My Metamorphosis Poetry & Prose Series
My Perfect Vacation Poetry & Prose Series
My Sweet Word Poetry & Prose Series
Mythic Poetry Series
Same Name Poetry Series
Self-Portrait Poetry Series
Starting to Ride Poetry & Prose Series
Valentine’s Day Erasure Poetry Series
When I Hear That Song Poetry & Prose Series
When I Moved Poetry & Prose Series
Where I Live Poetry & Photography Series

Thank you to everyone who participates in our blog — as visitors, readers, writers, photographers, artists, commenters, and browsers! You have helped us build a thriving and vibrant community of readers and writers — from all corners of the world.


Today we honor Frida Kahlo, the groundbreaking artist who was born on a summer day (July 6, 1907) and passed away on a summer day (July 13, 1954). Like her husband, the celebrated painter Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the subject of Kahlo’s last painting was the watermelon — the essence of all things summer. We raise a slice of summer to Frida and Diego — and thank them for their sublime art. Kahlo’s last painting includes the phrase “Viva La Vida” — long live life — as exemplified by the wonders of the watermelon.

When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” MARK TWAIN

For the curious, Diego Rivera‘s last painting is featured below.


by Jane Kenyon

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on May 23, 1947, Jane Kenyon earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972. That same year, Kenyon married the poet Donald Hall, and moved to Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire. Kenyon’s published books of poetry include Constance (1993), Let Evening Come (1990), The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986), and From Room to Room (1978). In December 1993, she and Donald Hall were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.” At the time of her death from leukemia, in April 1995, Jane Kenyon was New Hampshire’s poet laureate.

Photo: Jane Kenyon, late 1980s.


“I must tell you how I work. I don’t have my novel outlined and I have to write to discover what I am doing…I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again.”


Photo: Flannery O’Connor’s desk and typewriter in her bedroom at Andalusia, her farm near Milledgeville, Georgia. Photo by Susana Raab for the New York Times, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The photo appears in an article by Lawrence Downes in the New York Times travel section (“In Search of Flannery O’Connor,” February 4, 2007.  Find the article at this link. Here is an excerpt, where Downes describes visiting O’Connor’s writing room:

There is no slow buildup on this tour; the final destination is the first doorway on your left: O’Connor’s bedroom and study, converted from a sitting room because she couldn’t climb the stairs [O’Connor was suffering from lupus]. Mr. Amason stood back, politely granting me silence as I gathered my thoughts and drank in every detail.

This is where O’Connor wrote, for three hours every day. Her bed had a faded blue-and-white coverlet. The blue drapes, in a 1950’s pattern, were dingy, and the paint was flaking off the walls. There was a portable typewriter, a hi-fi with classical LPs, a few bookcases. Leaning against an armoire were the aluminum crutches that O’Connor used, with her rashy swollen legs and crumbling bones, to get from bedroom to kitchen to porch.

There are few opportunities for so intimate and unguarded a glimpse into the private life of a great American writer. Mr. Amason told me that visitors sometimes wept on the bedroom threshold.


Wishing a very happy St. Patrick’s Day birthday to Marcia Meara, whose poetry appears in the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology and Silver Birch Press Green Anthology. And in honor of Marcia’s birthday, this post features an excerpt from her poem “On the River,” which appears in the Green Anthology. 

ON THE RIVER (Excerpt)

by Marcia Meara

Crystal green flows beneath me,

Leafy arches rise above.

  Dip, glide.

     Dip, glide.



Duckweed parts as I float by.

I wonder where they went,

Those ducks.

Gone overnight, it seems.

Another parting, another loss,

And I slide by,

Under all that green.

  Dip, glide.

     Dip, glide.


Just there, in deepest shade,

Sleeping emeralds cling.

Tree frogs rest in their

Smooth, damp skins

Waiting for the silver moon.

They’ll open their eyes for the silver moon.

Sleeping now,

As I pass by.

  Dip, glide.

     Dip, glide.


With arms raised to that same moon,

I once danced along the shore,

Young and wild and full of joy.

Moving to music

That stirred my soul,

And washed in that pale light,

I danced.

Years ago, in that pale, pale light.

I remember it all,

And so much more,

As I slide by.

  Dip, glide.

     Dip, glide.

Visit Marcia at her blog Bookin’ It, where she posts reviews and other book-related articles.


Today, we celebrate the birthday of Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), author of the beloved children’s classic The Wind in the Willows. This charming, wise book is not just for the under-eight set — it’s for everyone: a volume to be read, reread, and savored.

First published in 1908, The Wind in the Willows follows Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger as they embark on adventures in pastoral England.

Here are some memorable quotes from this masterwork (and one of my all-time favorite books!): 

“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.” 

“But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.” 

“Beyond the Wild Wood comes the wild world,”said the Rat.”And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or to me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going’ nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.” 

“Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of your old life and into the new!” 

“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.” 

“Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!” 

“The Mole… sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” 

Download the book for free in a variety of forms — including Kindle versions — at Project Gutenberg.


“A rumor of neon flowers bleeding all night long, along those tracks where endless locals pass…” NELSON ALGREN, Chicago: City on the Make

Photo: “Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sign lights up Illinois Central Railroad freight cars parked in Chicago’s South Water Street freight terminal” by Jack Delano, 1943

Wishing a very happy 176th birthday to the Windy City!


January 12 marks the 64th birthday of Haruki Murakami, a novelist whose work I enjoy because it’s original, funny, surreal, and surprising.

Who else could write a detective story featuring an elderly (and rather simpleminded) private investigator that people pay a per diem to locate their lost cats? How does the detective get his clues? By interviewing cats! (That’s his special skill.)

Read an excerpt from the brilliant, charming, funny “Heigh Ho” at The Paris Review here.

To give you a feel for the story, here’s a passage from “Heigh Ho” by Haruki Murakami:

Being able to converse with cats was Nakata’s little secret. Only he and the cats knew about it. People would think he was crazy if he mentioned it, so he never did. Everybody knew he wasn’t very bright, but being dumb and being crazy were different matters altogether.

It wasn’t so unusual, after all, to see old folks talking to animals as if they were people. But if anyone did happen to comment on his abilities with cats and say something like, “Mr. Nakata, how are you able to know cats’ habits so well?” he’d just smile and let it pass. 

“Heigh Ho” by Haruki Murakami is also found in his novel Kafka on the Shore, available at

Wishing you many more happy birthdays, Mr. Murakami! 



by David Bowie

The tactful cactus by your window
Surveys the prairie of your room
Mobile spins to its collision
Clara puts her head between her paws
They’ve opened shops down West side
Will all the cacti find a home
But the key to the city
Is in the sun that pins the branches to the sky 


Happy birthday to David Bowie, born on January 8, 1947. Yes, music legends Bowie and Elvis share a January 8th birthday!

Photo: “Cactus on Windowsill” by Jenelopy, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Elvis Presley was a favorite subject of folk artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) — and prints of the work (“Baby Elvis,” 1988) shown at right are available (but not cheap) at Skot Foreman Fine Art.

Born on January 8, 1935, today marks the 78th anniversary of Elvis’s entry into the earthly sphere. If you’ve never listened to the King’s version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” take a few moments today to honor a great artist on his birthday — and listen to him sing the song here.