General questions

What is the piano music that accompanies The Writer's Almanac?

The music that begins and ends The Writer's Almanac is a Scandinavian folk tune called "Ge Mig En Dag" ("Give Me a Day"). The pianist is Rich Dworsky, music director for A Prairie Home Companion. A recorded version is available with the Good Poems audio book.

Sheet music is available in the book Once Led to Your Font: A Keyboard Collection, by Mark Sedio.

Help finding poetry

How can I find a poem I heard on the The Writer's Almanac?

If you know the name of the author, browse or search for him or her on the author page. If the title of the poem is known, browsing or searching by poem title may be most useful. If you know approximately when the piece aired, the archive page might do the trick.

Why are there only poem titles and authors from 1993 and 1994?

These entries are from the time before our Web site was created. We had the information, and we hope to add to the back catalog as soon as possible.

Why aren't there links to listen for programs up to Feb. 5, 2001?

The Web site didn't have audio until this point. As above, we plan to add to the back catalog as time permits.

Why are the listen links different before January 22, 2007?

Oddly enough, it was a configuration change on our Web site. We used to post an entire week's worth of audio, and modify the file with "timestamps" for each day. Those timestamps were inconsistent, and as such, did not lend themselves to the type of automation we can use now with one day having its own audio file.

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  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham