Garrison Keillor, Good Poems, and “Bear In Mind” by John Martin

This site would not exist without Garrison Keillor. For it was in his book Good Poems that I first read the poem that would go on to change–and save–my life, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. His daily poem at The Writer’s Almanac was often the highlight of my day, and many of his offerings found their way here to this very site.

Minnesota Public Radio has ended distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac effective immediately.

Today is a sad day for poetry lovers.


Garrison Keillor fired for ‘inappropriate behavior’

November 29, 2017 

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Garrison Keillor, whose stories of small-town characters entertained legions of public radio listeners for 40 years on “A Prairie Home Companion,” became another celebrity felled by allegations of workplace misconduct on Wednesday when Minnesota Public Radio terminated his contracts.

The homegrown humorist told The Associated Press he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” Keillor didn’t detail the allegation to AP, but he later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back when trying to console her.

“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness, and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized,” Keillor told the newspaper in an email. “I sent her an email of apology later, and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it.

“We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

MPR said only that it received a single allegation of “inappropriate behavior” against Keillor last month about an alleged incident during his time hosting “A Prairie Home Companion.” Keillor retired as host of the radio variety show last year, but continued to work for MPR on various projects.

MPR said it had received no other complaints but had retained an outside law firm that was continuing to investigate.

[…]

On Wednesday, Keillor didn’t say when the incident with the woman occurred. In his statement to AP, Keillor said it was “poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself.

“But I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969.”

[…]

MPR said it would rename the show now hosted by Thile (“A Prairie Home Companion”) and end distribution of “The Writer’s Almanac,” Keillor’s daily reading of a poem and telling of literary events. MPR also plans to end rebroadcasts of “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion” hosted by Keillor.

From AP story: “Garrison Keillor fired for ‘inappropriate behavior'” written by: JEFF BAENEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS, November 29, 2017. Full article published at SFChronicle.com


When I visited TheWritersAlmanac.org, the site was no longer there and redirected to a statement by MPR which included:

MPR will end its business relationships with Mr. Keillor’s media companies effective immediately. By terminating the contracts, MPR and American Public Media (APM) will:

* end distribution and broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac and rebroadcasts of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor;

* change the name of APM’s weekly music and variety program hosted by Chris Thile; and,

* separate from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the PrairieHome.org website.


All personal opinions aside, this is a heart-breaking day for me and for all poetry lovers.

The last poem published at The Writer’s Almanac, which I have thanks to my email subscription, was “Bear In Mind” by John Martin:

“Bear In Mind”
By John Martin

A bear is chasing me through a meadow
and I’m running as fast as I can but
he’s gaining on me—it seems
he’s always gaining on me.
I’m running and running but also
thinking I should just
turn around and say,
“Stop it! Stop chasing me. We both
know you aren’t going to catch me.
All you can ever do is chase me. So,
think about it—why bother?”

The bear does stop,
and he sits on his haunches and thinks,
or seems to think. And then
the bear says to me,
“I have to chase you, you know
that. Or you should. And, sure,
we both know I’ll never catch you.
So, why not give us both a break and
just stop thinking about me?”

But, with that said, he gets back on four feet,
sticks his long pink tongue out, licks down
both sides of his snout. Then he sighs, looks
behind himself, then at me and says, “Okay,
ready when you are.”

“Bear In Mind” by John Martin from Hold This. © Concrete Wolf Press, 2017.



 

14 thoughts on “Garrison Keillor, Good Poems, and “Bear In Mind” by John Martin

  1. Jim Brennan

    A sad day for sure. I begin each day with Writer’s Almanac, and have steered many other writers to the website. My day began with Bear in Mind. I saw Garrison at the Academy of Music in Philly many years ago. I’m still stunned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this on a full screen magnified my grief. I can’t believe the site is gone, and I’m saddened by everything surrounding this.
    I mentioned earlier, my dad gave me one of Keilor’s books as a gift and added, “You kind of write like him.” That was a huge compliment.
    I wonder what Marcus or Epictetus would have to say…looking for some common sense in the chaos and not finding any…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like I sent in text… they would basically say we can’t control externals, we can only control our own thoughts. To try not to worry about what a good man is…but to BE one, instead.
      All we can do is to try to be well (in our thinking) and do good work (in our actions).

      Hey…..wasn’t that Garrison’s motto at Writers Almanac? Hmm.

      😘

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fuck. I only just heard about it. Didn’t sink in that there would be no more Writer’s Almanac. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning. I met him once at a reading. He signed a book for my son and I. He was gracious and kind.

    Still. There’s a whirlwind blowing, things changing for the better. I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess we have to look at the bigger picture, on that sea-change. But something just felt off about this…I’m sure there’s more to the story. Still sad for poetry though.

      I will try to post more as we all get used to a world with Writers Almanac. xoxo

      Like

    1. That’s a good way to look at it. I’m sure there’s more to this particular story…there MUST be, right? Why would they immediately fire someone who’s been a loyal employee for 48 years over a single accusation where he allegedly touched her back then apologized? Dude was the quietest socially awkward stand-apart guy out there. I just keep telling myself there must be more to it, and like you said, I try to focus on the women and on the sea-change occurring.

      (And for others reading this, please know I am not defending his actions or him, I’m just befuddled over the apparent quick-extreme-reaction by MPS and mourning the hit to poetry.)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree, Christina. It’s such a heartbreaking loss! I feel bereaved. I loved waking up each morning to the poem that Writer’s Almanac sent to my in-box. It was often the highlight of my day, as well. I’m going to miss it so much. And I agree with you that there has to be more to the story. It’s hard to imagine they would fire Keillor for one hand-on-the-back incident in 48 years. I also share your affection for Good Poems. That’s my all-time favorite poetry anthology. The brilliance in that book is blinding!

    Like

  5. Dick T

    RGT

    Sad is the word. The Writer’s Almanac coming to the inbox everyday was a treasure that I will dearly miss. Thanks Garrison for all you have done to make this world a bit more tolerable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean

    Dear Christina,
    Thank You for this post today. Very sad turn of events. I’ve gotta share a memory of G.K. that has stuck in my mind for years. There was APHC episode with Meryl Streep, excellent as always. Being the consummate actress that she is, at some point in the program she suddenly turns and kisses him smack on the lips and he was visibly shaken by this and he clearly didn’t like it! haha I was amazed in that moment by this shy Victorian-esque man! I didn’t get that he was acting, either. I got that his response was honest. dunno… Just thought I’d attempt to bring a bit of levity to this awful situation. Thank you for your posts. I also love Jim Brennan’s posts. I think you referred us to his site or vice versa. Anyway, we’re lucky!! Bye. Jean McKay

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A sad day indeed. I liked to end the day with The Writer’s Almanac podcast. Plugged into earphones quietly listening to Garrison Keillor telling me what notable things happened in history on any given day. And then the poem. I’ll miss the sound of his voice and the way he read poetry that renewed my love for poetry. “Bear in Mind” is one of my favorites.

    Like

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