August 2

Bei Dao

Bei Dao (Zhao Zhenkai) (born August 2, 1949) Chinese poet, short story writer – Unlock (2000)

Read the Author's Calendar biography of Bei Dao

Lucas Klein explores Bei Dao's poetry

Read 13 of Bei Dao's poems here

Spending the Night

A river brings a trout to the plate
brother alcohol and father sorghum
ask me to spend the night, the glass
has the wrinkles of a murderer

the hotel clerk stares at me
I hear his arrhythmic heart
that heart now bright now dim
lighting the registration form

on the glossy marble
the piano goes out of tune
the elevator turns a yawn into a scream
as it cuts through lamplit foam

coming out of its sleeve
the wind bares an iron fist

Bei Dao reads his poetry

James Baldwin

James Baldwin (born August 2, 1924) U.S. poet, playwright, essayist – Blues for Mister Charlie (1964)

Listen to James Baldwin in a 1968 interview excerpt at Pacifica Radio Archives: here

Baldwin: All black Americans are treated like niggers. From Sammy Davis Jr. to my mother.

Read excerpts from Baldwin's play Blues for Mister Charlie

Baldwin talks about his life and his writing in a 1979 interview

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende (born August 2, 1942) Chilean novelist – The Soul of a Woman (2021)

Read about Isabel Allende in this 2021 Guardian interview

In her new book, The Soul of a Woman, she recalls her resentment as “an aberration in my family, which considered itself intellectual and modern but according to today’s standards was frankly Paleolithic.” Such was her fury, her mother took her to a doctor, suspecting colic or perhaps a tapeworm.

Allende, now 78, says she was frustrated on Panchita’s behalf but also at her refusal to stand up for herself. “She thought you couldn’t change what God had made this way,” she tells me. “When she saw me so willing to go out there and fight, she was scared and thought I would be ostracised. She was also worried I would never catch a husband. In my generation in Chile, if you didn’t have a formal engagement by age 23, you were a spinster.”

Read the Goodreads about The Soul of a Woman

Isabel Allende talks about her family serving as inspiration for her fiction

Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright (born August 2, 1947) US writer and journalist – The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid (2021)

Lawrence Wright discusses his book and play about the Camp David Accords in 2016 at the San Diego Old Globe Theatre here

"I think of my characters as donkeys. This seems like a pejorative term but a donkey is a beast of burden, and he can carry the reader into a world that he's never been in, and he can carry a lot of information on his back..."  (at minute 16:30 of podcast)

Lawrence Wright reflects on the 9/11 attacks 20 years later