It’s the weekend of April 7-8, 2018. Birthdays this weekend include poet William Wordsworth and writers Nnedi Okorafor, Barbara Kingsolver, and Donald Barthelme. It’s from Wordsworth that we have this weekend’s poem. It’s titled, “Travelling.” Stay safe and well. And may we all find time to do something we enjoy today or tomorrow. I’ll be back on Monday.

William Wordsworth

In a preface to the second edition of “Lyrical Ballads,” published in 1800, William Wordsworth (affiliate link) laid out his argument for Romanticism.Portrait of William Wordsworth.

Poems should be about human emotions, Wordsworth argued. And they should use “the real language of men.”

The preface is still considered a manifesto for English Romanticism. “Lyrical Ballads” first published in 1798. It launched Britain’s Romantic movement.

Wordsworth contributed most of the book’s poems. But he did accept four poems from his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One of Coleridge’s poems was “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

For his part, Wordsworth’s most notable poem in “Lyrical Ballads” is, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798.” The poem demonstrates Romantic poetry at its best.

Wordsworth, born today in 1770 in Cockermouth, England, produced more poetry after “Lyrical Ballads.” And he served as poet laureate for the British crown from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Nnedi Okorafor

Cover of Nnedi Okorafor's "Binti."
Affiliate link

Nnedi Okorafor (affiliate link) was born April 8 in Cincinnati in 1974, but she spent much of her time growing up in Nigeria. That’s where her parents are from, and where she often visited on holidays.

Okorafor is the author of a dozen books, all a mix of fantasy and science fiction. Most of her novels take place in Africa.

She’s the creator of the Akata series, which some describe as a “Nigerian Harry Potter.” And Okorafor is the author of the 2010 novel, “Who Fears Death.” It’s a post-apocalyptic story set in Sudan.

The book received the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. And Okorafor announced in July that HBO optioned the book. “Game of Thrones” creator George RR Martin will reportedly serve as executive producer.

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver (affiliate link) lived in rural Kentucky through the first grade. Then her family moved to the Republic of Congo, where her father provided medical care.

Photo of Barbara Kingsolver.
Photo credit: Annie Griffiths

The family stayed for a year before returning to Kentucky. The experience helped inspire Kingsolver to write her bestselling novel, “The Poisonwood Bible.”

Published in 1998, it’s the story of a missionary family who moves to Congo in 1959. Oprah selected “The Poisonwood Bible” for her Book Club. And it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999.

Kingsolver, born April 8 in Annapolis, MD, is the author of many books, including “Flight Behavior: A Novel” and “The Bean Trees.” She served as editor of “Best American Short Stories of 2001.”

And Kingsolver’s received many awards, including the National Humanities Medal, Britain’s Orange Prize for Fiction, and a James Beard Foundation Award.

Donald Barthelme

And today is the birthday of a writer who used humor and farce to mock the realities of modern life. That’s Donald Barthelme (affiliate link), born in Philadelphia, PA, in 1931.Photo of Donald Barthelme.

Barthelme wrote hundreds of short stories and a few novels. His first story collection, “Come Back, Dr. Caligari,” published in 1964.

Three years later, Barthelme produced his first novel, “Snow White.” Published first in The New Yorker, the story is a parody of the famous fairy tale.

In his work, Barthelme deployed pieces of pop culture, such as TV ads. And his writing took various forms, from numbered sentences to sentences that never seemed to end.

Along with his story collections and five novels, Barthelme published a children’s book. “The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn” came out in 1971. It won a National Book Award in 1972.

Barthelme passed away in 1989.


“Travelling”

This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun

Shine in between the fading leaves! the air

In the habitual silence of this wood

Is more than silent: and this bed of heath,

Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place?

Come!—let me see thee sink into a dream

Of quiet thoughts,—protracted till thine eye

Be calm as water when the winds are gone

And no one can tell whither.—my sweet friend!

We two have had such happy hours together

That my heart melts in me to think of it.

– William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Public Domain

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