February 24-25, 2018 – Weldon Kees, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays
This weekend is Feb. 24-25, 2018. Birthdays this weekend include writers Gillian Flynn and Anthony Burgess. It’s also the birthday of poet Weldon Kees and painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Our poem for this weekend is “The Sun Rising” by John Donne. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for reading and sharing Bidwell Hollow. See you back here on Monday morning.
Feb. 24 is the birthday of Weldon Kees (affiliate link). He was born in 1914 in Beatrice, NE.
Kees’ literary career started with short stories. From 1934-1945, he published more than 30 stories in literary publications and other periodicals. During this time, he also wrote a novel, titled “Fall Quarter.” But Kees couldn’t find a publisher willing to buy the manuscript.
Kees published his first poetry collection, “The Last Man,” in 1943. That same year, he and his wife, Ann, moved to New York City.
To make a living, Kees wrote book reviews and poems for magazines such as The New Republic and Poetry. He also took up painting and worked as an art critic for The Nation until 1951.
That’s when he moved to San Francisco. There he added jazz musician and photographer to his repertoire.
All the while, Kees continued writing poetry. He produced “Poems 1947-1954” in 1954.
Kees and Ann divorced in 1951. And Kees started telling friends he wanted to make a radical change in his life. He talked about moving to Mexico.
Then on July 18, 1955, police found Kees’ abandoned car near the Golden Gate bridge. His wallet, sleeping bag, and watch were missing from his apartment.
Authorities treated Kees’ disappearance as a suicide. But Kees’ body has never been found.
Born Feb. 24, 1971, in Kansas City, MO, was author Gillian Flynn (affiliate link).
Flynn was a TV critic for Entertainment Magazine in 2008 when she lost her job due to budget cuts. She had already published two novels, “Sharp Objects” and “Dark Places.” So she went into creative writing full time.
Flynn’s next book, “Gone Girl,” released in 2012. It spent eight weeks atop The New York Times bestseller list. To date, 15 million copies of “Gone Girl” have sold.
Set in a fictitious Missouri town, “Gone Girl” is about a woman’s disappearance and the suspicion placed on her husband.
Flynn sold the movie rights to the book for $1.5 million. That film, starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, released in 2014.
Hiram Revels Becomes First African American Congressman
On Feb. 25, 1870, Hiram Revels became the first African American member of Congress.
Revels grew up free in North Carolina. He attended college in Illinois and served as a minister in Baltimore. During the Civil War, Revels organized two African American regiments for the Union Army.
He also served as a chaplain to the military. The Army posted Revels in Mississippi, where he stayed once the war ended.
Revels was a member of the Mississippi legislature in 1870. The state had two open U.S. Senate seats after its re-admittance to the Union. On Jan. 20, 1870, the legislature elected Revels to fill one of the open seats.
But in Washington, DC, some Senators claimed Revels couldn’t serve in Congress because he hadn’t been a citizen the required nine years. They argued that Revels, a black man, only became a U.S. citizen when the Civil Rights Act of 1866 passed.
Other Senators pointed out that Revels had been a citizen before 1866 because he voted in elections. The Senate approved seating Revels by a vote of 48 to eight.
And so on Feb. 25, 1870, Revels was sworn in as a U.S. Senator.
Only nine more black Senators have served since Revels’ swearing in 148 years ago.
Feb. 25 is the birthday of painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He was born in 1841 in Limoges, France.
Renoir’s artistic career began painting pottery. But by the 1860s he was painting alongside artists such as Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley as part of a group that founded the Impressionist movement.
Impressionism was about using small brush strokes and colors to depict the emotions and light of a moment. And Impressionist painters often worked outside, instead of in a studio. It’s a method that Renoir’s early work illustrates. Some of his most famous paintings from this period are “Luncheon of the Boating Party” on “La Loge.”
By the late 19th century, though, Renoir moved away from Impressionism. He painted in a studio, and he focused less on depicting light in his paintings. Some of his works from this period include “Eurydice” and “Seated Bather Drying Her Feet.”
And born on Feb. 25, in Manchester, England, in 1917, was Anthony Burgess (affiliate link). He’s best known for his 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange.”
The book tells the story of society’s attempt to rehabilitate a juvenile delinquent. Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick directed the movie version of “A Clockwork Orange.” The film debuted in 1971.
But “A Clockwork Orange” is far from Burgess’ only work. He authored 60 books, 33 of which were novels. His other works of fiction include “The Eve of Saint Venus” (1964) and “The Kingdom of the Wicked” (1985).
Much of Burgess’ novels feature strange, peculiar plots paired with societal parodies and satire.
On the non-fiction side, Burgess produced biographies of Shakespeare and Ernest Hemingway. He wrote a travel book about New York City and books on literature.
Burgess also released two autobiographical volumes, one in 1987 and the second in 1990. He died in 1993.
“The Sun Rising”
Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”
She’s all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.
– John Donne, Public Domain