Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know?

This is the second in an occasional series presenting something about poets, poems, or poetry that you might not know.

Did You Know. . . 


You've heard the phrase "Excuse my dust"? It takes on new meaning in the story of the final resting place of the ashes of Dorothy Parker: the "Dorothy Parker Memorial Garden", located in Baltimore, Maryland, in the office park occupied by NAACP. The interment, more than a decade after Parker's death from a heart attack in 1967, involves Martin Luther King and Lillian Hellman, among others. (Here's another story about those ashes.)

In 1873, Paul Verlaine shot Arthur Rimbaud in Rimbaud's left hand. The reason? Apparently, while the two poets were traveling together (Rimbaud was Verlaine's protege and love interest), Rimbaud made known his wish to return to Paris, much to Verlaine's ire. Verlaine thereafter spent time in a Belgian prison.

Maya Angelou described as "challenging and daring" her effort to craft two-sentence greetings for a line of Hallmark cards. USA Today carried the story in 2002. The poet and memoirist was the second author to sign with the company. The first? Jan Karon

Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote "Mary Had  a Little Lamb", asked Edgar Allan Poe to submit an article for the magazine she edited, and was turned down. In his handwritten letter, Poe, author of the famous poem "The Raven", protested that it "would be injurious to me, and an insult" to Hale to submit "a crude or hastily written article". Poe's letter sold at auction recently for $164,000, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Thomas Hardy's ashes are buried in the Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey but his heart is at Stinsford in Dorset, the final resting place of his parents and of his beloved first wife Emma.

✦ The title for Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem".

✦ "Computer Poet" Edmund Skellings, who is Poet Laureate of Florida, is a technology pioneer who was awarded a United States patent for "a computer teaching system based upon the functional use of color on a cathode ray tube." Skellings created the first "recordbook" in 1960, according to his Website.

Guinness World Records will not consider claims for "longest" or "shortest" poem.

✦ Fear or the hatred of poetry is known as metrophobia. The phobia is listed in the Probert Encyclopedia of Medicine.

6 comments:

Hannah Stephenson said...

These ARE fun! My favorite is "metrophobia."

R.H. Mustard said...

I can only agree with Poe. How the writer of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" could think Poe would be available is a mystery best left to the 19th century. Metrophobia seems to infect my entire family.

Louise Gallagher said...

I did not know! In particular, I've never even heard the phrase "excuse my dust"!

Maureen said...

Louise, I don't know the exact origin of the phrase but Dorothy Parker was quoted in Vanity Fair as proposing "Excuse my dust" for her epitaph. The phrase is also the title of a Red Skelton movie. When I was growing up, I always heard it in reference to speeding. Norman Rockwell titled one of his paintings for The Saturday Evening Post "Excuse My Dust."

Maureen said...

Louise, I don't know the exact origin of the phrase but Dorothy Parker was quoted in Vanity Fair as proposing "Excuse my dust" for her epitaph. The phrase is also the title of a Red Skelton movie. When I was growing up, I always heard it in reference to speeding. Norman Rockwell titled one of his paintings for The Saturday Evening Post "Excuse My Dust."

S. Etole said...

What a great collection of fun facts.