April 25, 2018 - Emma Straub, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays

Today is Wednesday, April 25, 2018. It's the birthday of writer Emma Straub. And "Robinson Crusoe" first published on this date in 1719. Our poem for today is "Fallen Angel" by Danielle Van Alst. It's from her collection, "A Thousand Little Words: Poems of Life, Loss, Love, and Beauty." Van Alst reads her poem in the podcast version of today's episode.

Emma Straub

After graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emma Straub (affiliate link) worked at a bookstore in her native New York City. She left after four years while writing her novel, "The Vacationers."

By slowking4 [GFDL 1.2], from Wikimedia CommonsStraub said the experience allowed her to be around other writers and book lovers.

"I think there’s no better job for a writer than to work in a bookstore because you’re surrounded by people who care about what you care about," Straub said.

Straub is back to being a bookseller, this time as the owner of a bookstore in Brooklyn. She and her husband, Michael Fusco-Straub, opened Books are Magic in 2017.

And Straub is the author of the aforementioned "The Vacationers," which became a New York Times bestseller after it was released in 2014. She's also the author of the books "Modern Lovers" and "Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures." She's published her writing in publications such as Vogue, Good Housekeeping, and Tin House.

Straub was born on this date in 1980 in New York City.

Robinson Crusoe is Published

It's on this date in 1719 that "The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" was published. The novel was Daniel Defoe's first.

Defoe made a living as a merchant before losing all of his money. He then wrote political pamphlets for income before, at age 59, turning to fiction.

"Robinson Crusoe" is the story of a shipwrecked sailor. The book was a hit in Britain, going through multiple new editions within months after its first printing. And the novel was quickly translated into various languages for reading throughout Europe.

Many stories have been inspired by "Robinson Crusoe" over the past 300 years, including the novel "The Swiss Family Robinson" and the film, "Cast Away."

"Fallen Angel"

Hers is a story longing to be told a tale of dark secrets waiting to unfold, an enigma kept hidden and locked in stone never to be discovered, revealed, or known. Yet, her doomed legend may not rest nor sleep haunted by the unspoken words she must keep words filled with passion, desire, and hate of ill-fated knowledge that came too late. Now, she forever dwells among the graves emptied of all souls that heaven saves. She remains not as phantom, spirit, or ghost, but as a marble guard holding her post an angel carved from earthen rock of sandstone and lime to lie eternally frozen in time.

It was there that stood the young handsome man in black that could recount her ancient tale and take me back.

This saga began many moons ago in a place where departed spirits go, tis a mystic land beyond the star filled skies a site of pure enchantment where magic lies. It is there in the celestial garden of grace where lovely creatures dwell, fair of heart and of face. In that golden ethereal valley rests beauty that mere mortals cannot see, it flows with clear refreshing healing streams that sparkle and glisten as the sunlight beams upon great majestic pools of sapphire that ripple with the dreams of hope and desire. Upon this lush abundant vibrant ground trod royal angels that the Gods have crowned, among the fresh blossoms and wooded trees they roam with a tranquil radiant ease for, theirs is a power of privilege and strength of youth, vigor, and life of endless length. They are masters of destiny and fate guardians of souls who pass through their gate, their force fills the kingdom with joyful light an energy pulsing brilliant and bright. Yet, there was one who wanted something more to act upon a deed not done before. With an untamed heart and a rebellious mind it was true earthly love this angel sought to find- a living man of breath, flesh, blood, and bone alive with passion she could call her own.

Her cherished name was Mirain meaning lovely, with clear tender eyes the color of the sea a winged goddess with silky copper hair and alabaster skin so soft and fair. Under the quiet cloak and dark of night this wild beauty slipped carefully from sight away to the strange place that spirits fled to the forbidden land where mortals tread breaking through the veil of this taboo sphere to a world so curious, odd, and queer. Cautiously stepping upon the damp ground where human souls are kept anxiously bound she gazes upon this knew unknown realm whose sights do fascinate and overwhelm.

All was bathed in faint silvery moonlight as the stars above sparkled intense and bright casting mysterious eerie shadows that swirled about like mournful ghostly crows twirling among the dense forest of trees and dancing upon the cold gentle breeze while overhead upon a barren limb perched an owl watching so silent and grim. She walked entranced through the bewitching wood past vast groves where majestic poplars stood strolling past regal stags and a graceful doe along leafy paths lit by the moons glow until she came upon a tiny brook, falling upon her knees, she bent to look. She stared into its serene glassy mirror when suddenly an image did appear, not merely her reflection, but something more a figure she had never seen before.

He had a stunning face and dark raven hair perfectly dressed in black looking strikingly debonair, he stood with skin so pale and snowy white gazing with calm grey eyes that pierced the night.

An elegant figure so tall and thin, he smiled at her with a charming grin. When he spoke, his deep voice was smooth like suede beseeching her “please do not be afraid.” She stared completely spellbound and in awe transfixed and delighted by what she saw, he lovingly guided her upon her feet then stroked her rosy cheek so tenderly and sweet. His warm gentle touch made her spirit stir as her racing thoughts began to blur, for this captivating man did hold her heart and from that moment they would not part. Night after night they met as souls entwined promising deathless love as ties that bind yet, he told her “I can no longer lie” “I shan’t live forever and I will one day die.” “No!” she screamed. “No, you must never depart for that would surely break my fragile heart.” “My dear one, I must make you understand” as he drew her close clutching her small hand. He took her to the kirkyard on the knoll behind the tower where the bells do toll. “My love, I brought you here so you may see the cruel fate that does wait for me.”

“How can I save you?” she implored of him her face looking grieved, somber, and grim. He whispered in a voice of calm control “you and you alone can save my soul.” “Share with me your power to give me life that cannot be cut by the harsh reapers knife. give to me stout strength and eternal youth vitality, wisdom, and sacred truth. Darling, you can infuse in me all of this with the enthralling magic of your kiss.” With a pure and trusting heart she took his hand “yes, my love, I will do as you command.” He gently clasped his hands around her hips and placed a tender kiss upon her lips. As she stood atop the firm hallowed ground the earth rumbled with a violent sound, he looked at her with wicked savage eyes a foul evil he could no longer disguise, gripping her with a vile loathsome hate and a wild raging fury much too great. She now understood his cruel betrayal as her drained body grew numb, weak, and frail. All had turned into a raving tempest as shrieks swirled through the air and heavy mist, the world grew dark with his brutal deed complete shattered and disgraced she collapsed at his feet.

Her form lay crumpled on the earth now emptied of all virtue, value, and worth. He picked up the cold, limp, and lifeless frame of the lost being whose soul he did claim. A fair fallen angel broken and deceived by the web of lies he cleverly weaved. He carried her through the mossy hollow past decaying crypts forgotten long ago to a spot beneath an old barren oak where the thick eerie fog hung heavy like smoke. There he laid her body upon the slate and with the wave of his hand sealed her fate entombing her within the smooth marble stone leaving her locked forever to dwell alone.

Then all fell silent on the dale and that, the man said, is the end of her tale. I stared transfixed at the tragic statue her silhouette aged and covered with dew still lost in thought I turned to ask how he knew, but this strange man had disappeared from view like a phantom he had vanished and gone with the swiftness of a curtain being drawn. I stood alone beside her solemn grave looking at the beauty no one could save, she gazed at me with anguished frozen eyes left empty and vacant upon her demise. Slowly, the evening mist had turned to rain ‘twas then I noticed upon her face a stain, a long thin line cascading down her cheek leaving in its wake a dark and lonely streak. No, it was not the falling rain that drips down full of drear, but the shedding of a cold solitary tear. - "Fallen Angel" from A Thousand Little Words: Poems of Life, Loss, Love, and Beauty. Copyright 2018 by Danielle Van Alst. Used with permission of the author.

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