Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recent Author Passings

Within the past few days not only have we lost the great painter Andrew Wyeth but we have also lost three somewhat promiment authors:

W. D. Snodgrass, 1926 - 2009, was a poet who wrote wrote what many call "confessional poetry" but who hated that description for his very personal poems. He is known also for his teaching in universities and workshops, explemified in his humorous but very educational book De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems gone bad. But, as he dryly, noted in his 1971 poem Old Apple Trees:

Not one of us got it his own way.
Nothing like any of us
Will be seen again, forever.

Hortense Calisher, 1911 - 2009, was noted more for her many short stories than for her few novels but she was highly anthologized. Her stories frequently appeared in the New Yorker magazine and, like many cartoons in that publication, her stories were as much sad and subtle as well drawn.

John Mortimer, 1923 - 2009, the creator of the BBC character Rumpole of the Bailey was a lawyer who became drawn to fiction and playwriting instead. Particularly adept and beloved for his comic characters in the British legal system, both in London and in rural settings, Mortimer said, "comedy is the only thing worth writing about in this despairing world."

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