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Photo of Spike Lee.

March 20, 2018 – Anne Bradstreet, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays

Today is Tuesday, March 20, 2018. It’s the birthday of America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet. Bradstreet’s “To Her Father with Some Verses” is our poem for today. And it’s the birthday of filmmaker Spike Lee and young-adult novelist Lois Lowry. I hope your week is off to a good start. Thank you for reading, and sharing, Bidwell Hollow.

Anne Bradstreet

So unheard of was a woman poet in 17th century England, that the preface to Anne Bradstreet’s (affiliate link) first poetry collection sought to sway readers that, indeed, a woman could write poetry.Sketch of Anne Bradstreet.

The preface, written by Bradstreet’s brother-in-law, John Woodbridge, also asserted that Bradstreet’s writing didn’t interfere with her duties as a wife and mother of eight kids.

Woodbridge wrote, “these poems are the fruit but of some few hours, curtailed from her sleep and other refreshments.”

It’s Woodbridge who ferried some of Bradstreet’s poems on a ship from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to London. There he found a publisher who produced the collection, titled “The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America,” in 1650.

The book made Bradstreet the first published American poet. Her style was Elizabethan. And her poems reflected the two central focuses of her life, her family, and her faith.

Bradstreet wrote more than 7,000 lines of poetry, but “The Tenth Muse” is the only volume of her work published in her lifetime.

Bradstreet was born today in 1612 in Northamptonshire, England. She died in 1672 in Andover, MA.

Spike Lee

It’s the birthday of filmmaker Spike Lee (affiliate link), born in Atlanta, GA, in 1957.

Lee was a graduate film student at New York University when he produced the movie, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.” The picture’s main character, Zack, takes over a Brooklyn barbershop after the previous owner’s murder.

The film earned Lee the 1983 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Student Award. And it heralded the dawn of one of the most famed filmmaking careers.

Lee takes full control over his projects. He writes, directs, produces, and edits most of his films. His movies include “He Got Game,” “Malcolm X,” and “4 Little Girls.”

The latter film received a Best Documentary Oscar nomination in 1997. It explores the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL, during the Civil Rights Movement that killed four girls.

More recently, Lee created a Netflix series, “She’s Gotta Have It,” based on his 1986 movie of the same name.

Lee is a tenured film professor at New York University. He’s received many awards and honors, including a lifetime achievement Oscar, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and an NAACP Image Hall of Fame Award.

Lois Lowry

Cover of Lois Lowry's "Number the Stars."

Affiliate link

Lois Lowry (affiliate link) was already a successful young-adult novelist when she published, “Number the Stars.” The book came out in 1989.

“Number the Stars” is about a girl in Copenhagen whose family helps Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Lowry wrote the tale after hearing about a friend’s childhood growing up in Denmark during Nazi occupation.

The book netted Lowry her first Newbery Medal. “Number the Stars” also received a National Jewish Book Award.

And it became a bestseller. Still in 2017, 28 years after first publishing, “Number the Stars” sold 123,000 copies.

But there’s another Lowry book that continues to sell even more copies. That’s her 1993 novel, “The Giver.” It tells the story of a boy living in a dystopian society who’s charged with protecting his community’s memories.

Lowry received her second Newbery Medal for “The Giver.” And 217,000 copies of the book sold last year. The novel is the first in a series of four books set in the same dystopian society.

Lowry was born today in Honolulu in 1937.

“To Her Father with Some Verses”

Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,

If worth in me or ought I do appear,

Who can of right better demand the same

Than may your worthy self from whom it came?

The principal might yield a greater sum,

Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;

My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,

My bond remains in force unto this day;

Yet for part payment take this simple mite,

Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.

Such is my debt I may not say forgive,

But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;

Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,

Yet paying is not paid until I die.

– Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), Public Domain

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