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Photo of author Heather Graham.

March 15, 2018 – Chana Bloch, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays

Today is Thursday, March 15, 2018. It’s the birthday of poet Chana Bloch and writers Richard Ellmann and Heather Graham. It’s also the Ides of March. Julius Caesar was assassinated on this date in 44 BC. Our poem for today is Alexander Posey’s “The Conquerors.” Thank you for reading and sharing Bidwell Hollow. Have a wonderful day.

Chana Bloch

Cover of Chana Bloch's "Swimming in the Rain."

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Growing up in the Bronx, Chana Bloch (affiliate link) wasn’t allowed to attend Hebrew school.

“Hebrew belonged to the men and the boys,” she said. “Girls were second-class citizens.”

But it was in Hebrew, as well as poetry, that Bloch devoted her life. She translated six books of Hebrew poetry into English.

And Bloch connected many of her original poems to Judaism and the Bible. The first volume she published, 1981’s “The Secrets of the Tribe,” uses poems that retell stories from the Biblical book of Genesis.

Bloch used poetry to explore topics such as love, growing older, and raising children. Many of her poems hold Biblical references. Her style was spare in words, but not in profundity.

“I like poetry that appears to be clear on the surface, with unexpected depths,” she said.

Chana Bloch was born Florence Ina Faerstein today in 1940 in the Bronx, NY. She passed away due to cancer last year.

Richard Ellmann

Cover of Richard Ellmann's "Oscar Wilde."

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It’s the birthday of the man who helped us better understand three literary giants. The man is Richard Ellmann (affiliate link), born in 1918 in Highland Park, MI.

Ellmann visited Dublin while on leave from military service during World War II. While there, he developed a fascination with Irish writers. That fascination guided the rest of Ellmann’s life.

A year after finishing his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1947, Ellmann published a biography of Irish poet W. B. Yeats. The book, “Yeats: The Man and the Masks,” paints a portrait of Yeats by removing labels attached to the poet, such as Nobel Prize winner and occultist. To Ellmann, these labels served as masks behind which Yeats could hide.

Ellmann turned his attention to James Joyce next. He published an authoritative look at the Irish novelist in 1959. Along with editing a collection of Joyce’s letters, Ellmann released a revised edition of “James Joyce” in 1982.

And then, in 1987, Ellmann produced a book about Oscar Wilde. Still today, many regard “Oscar Wilde” as the definitive biography of the poet and playwright.

For “Oscar Wilde,” Ellmann received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in Biography.

Ellmann wasn’t able to collect his award, though. He died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1987.

Heather Graham

Heather Graham (affiliate link) sold her first novel, “When Next We Love,” in 1982.

Over the past 36 years, she’s produced more than 150 novels and sold millions of books.

Graham writes mostly romance novels that fall across a spectrum of genres.

She’s written romantic historical fiction, put romance into vampire stories, and weaved ghosts into many of her books.

Graham, born today in 1953, grew up in Miami-Dade County, FL.

Graham helped found the Florida chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA).

She received the 2003 RWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Millions of Graham books are currently in print. And her work’s been translated into 20 languages.

Graham’s most recent novel, written with actor Chad Michael Murray, is “American Drifter: A Thriller.” It published in November.

Julius Caesar is Assassinated

Today in 44 BC, Roman senators stabbed Julius Caesar to death in a meeting hall next to Pompey’s Theatre. One of the assailants was a protege of Caesar’s, Marcus Brutus.

When Brutus delivered one of the 23 stab wounds, Caesar reportedly remarked, “You, too, my child?”

The assassination occurred on what was already referred to in the Roman calendar as the Ides of March. It’s believed that Ides were based on days when a full moon occurred. The Ides fell in the middle of the month, with it being the 15th day of the month in March, May, July, and October.

Those who plotted to kill Caesar did so to preserve the Roman Republic. But instead, their actions triggered events that led to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

“The Conquerors”

The Caesars and the Alexanders were

But men gone mad, who ran about a while

Upsetting kingdoms, and were slain in turn

Like rabid dogs, or died in misery.

Assassins laid in wait for Caesar; wine,

Amid the boasts of victory, cut short

The glory of the Macedonian;

Deception cooled the fever Pompey had;

Death was dealt to Phyrrus by a woman’s

Hand; Themistocles and Hannibal drank

Deep of poison in their desolation.

– Alexander Posey (1873-1908), Public Domain

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