Archives for posts with tag: famous writers

the feel of it
by Charles Bukowski

A. Huxley died at 69,
much too early for such a
fierce talent,
and I read all his
but actually
Point Counter Point
did help a bit
in carrying me through
the factories and the
drunk tanks and the
along with Hamsun’s
they helped a
great books are
the ones we

I was astonished at
myself for liking the
Huxley book
but it did come from
such a rabid
and when I first
read P.C.P
I was living in a
hotel room
with a wild and
alcoholic woman
who once threw
Pound’s Cantos
at me
and missed,
as they did
with me.

I was working
as a packer
in a light fixture
and once
during a drinking
I told the lady,
“here, read this!”
(referring to
Point Counter

“ah, jam it up
your ass!” she
screamed at

anyway, 69 seemed
too early for Aldous
Huxley to
but I guess it’s
just as fair
as the death of a
at the same

it’s just that
with those who
help us
get on through,
all that light
dying, it works the
gut a bit —
scrubwomen, cab drivers,
cops, nurses, bank
robbers, priests,
fishermen, fry cooks,
jockeys and the

Photo: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) with his cat muse.

THE BELLS (Excerpt)
by Edgar Allan Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells—
Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night!

While the stars that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells—
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Read “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe in its entirety at



by Truman Capote

Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning…Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable — not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. “Oh my,” she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, “It’s fruitcake weather!”

…”I knew it before I got out of bed,” she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. “The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they’ve gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy, stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We’ve thirty cakes to bake.”

 It is always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: “It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch the buggy. Help me find my hat.” 

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at

By W.H. Auden

This is the night mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door…
Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers’ declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart’s outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wystan Hugh Auden (1907 – 1973), who published as was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, later an American citizen, regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature. (Read more at


That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” 




Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E.L. DOCTOROW

Photo: “Rain Forest in Paris” by Eole Wind

In this excerpt from a PBS radio interview, Billy Collins — U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003 — discusses his process of X-raying poems. (Read and listen to the entire interview at

INTERVIEWER: Where is the artistry in poetry? Is it the imagery, the cadence, the choice of subject?

COLLINS: Well, it’s sort of like doing six or seven things at a time. In prose, one just has to write sentences, one after the other. In poetry, you have to — you don’t have to write sentence, but I haven’t had a better way to express myself than the sentence, and lines at the same time. Because the line is the second unit or maybe the primary unit of poetry. So lines are delivered one at a time. So those are two things to think about. And even packaging the poem into stanzas is another consideration that is part of the craft of poetry.

INTERVIEWER: When you hold classes with students about poetry, you talk about X-raying a poem. I think we’re hearing a little bit of that right now. Can you explain a little bit more what that means?

COLLINS: Well, I think to X-ray a poem is really to find how it gets through itself. When I start a poem, I have an inkling of where the thing is going. I’m not completely in the dark, but I don’t know exactly where it’s going, and that curiosity is kind of what drives me to continue through the poem. And I think if we take a famous poem and we imagine that Keats has written four lines of it, but he doesn’t know what the fifth line is or any of the subsequent lines, then we have a sense that the art of poetry is really a matter of finding a path, an imaginative path which results in a conclusion or some kind of ending. So when I teach poetry, I try to not use the question what does this poem mean, so much as how does this poem continue, how does it commence and how does it keep going, and how does it stop?

Graphic: Poetry/Poem X-rays by Silver Birch Press

Though they were close friends and lived in Paris at the same time during the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald never had their photo taken together, but here’s the next best thing — the novelists are two of the ten writers that grace “Heritage” trading cards issued in 2009 by Topps, a company famous for its baseball cards. The reverse side of each card includes stats about the author, a mini bio, and a literature quiz.

Other writers in the series include Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

CARDS: Courtesy of Paul Nebenzahl, whose poetry appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (June 2013).

by Ernest Hemingway

  …Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafes, glowing red. At the cafe tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers.
     The buses rumble like green juggernauts through the snow that sifts down in the dusk. White house walls rise through the dusky snow. Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.
     It is very beautiful in Paris…at Christmas time.


Note: Ernest Hemingway wrote “Christmas at the Roof of the World” in 1923, when he was living in Paris and working as a correspondent for the Toronto Star. Find the story in BY-LINE ERNEST HEMINGWAY: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades, available at