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tv   BOOK TV  CSPAN  January 3, 2016 7:20pm-7:31pm EST

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we continue to visit to oakland california with a discussion on california's first laureate v.
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biographer alida george. >> my heart in sync to shout the same loud bird in the trees and in the sky and the honey bees black in the clover beds there is none of you as glad as i. the first laureate crowned during the pana mocked pacific exposition -- panama opposite effect expedition. she was california's most beloved poet for at least its fifth year. her father was don carlos smith and the youngest brother of joseph smith the founder of the mormon church and so she was raised in the mormon community. her father died when she was only four months old and six
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months later, her mother became joseph smith's sixth plural wife. when joseph smith was murdered at the jail, she then became a plural wife of george smith, a cousin to the father. when the mormons were forced out in illinois, the mother chose not to follow at brigham young or from salt lake to utah. she came to california during a few years after the gold rush started. there's one story she told years later where she just started school in los angeles and was probably 15-years-old and she was walking along a road in los angeles in a very small community and she -- it was a very hot day and she came upon a newspaper clipping that had
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blown into her path and she picked it up and it was a profile of a california poet. she saw that this guy came to california from somewhere else else and wrote poetry about california and that was a revelation to her because when she came to california poetry was very, very popular. much was interwoven in society back then and every single newspaper, there were lots of newspapers and on the front page of every single newspaper there would be a problem. they had slammed and everybody wrote poetry and could recite poetry. it's much different than it is today. but most were about somewhere else and so she read this clipping and saw the poetry could be written by someone in
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california about california. >> the interesting thing about the poetry, and herself after the age of 21, she hated the fact that she was the mormon and also hated the fact that she had been married and had a child. by the age of 21, she had divorced her husband because he tried to kill her with a shooter. and she also very likely have a child. there's no hard evidence because there were no death certificates at this time. but there is strong reason to believe she had a child died after the age of 21 she never let anybody know she was a mormon or that she was married her that she had a child. so everybody her whole life of the she was mr. poet and she didn't know until the day she died.
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when she became a public librarian, she brought a bit of celebrity to oakland because she was already published and quite popular. she had been publishing in the overland monthly for years and the overland monthly was a bit of a famous literary journal that was critically acclaimed at the east coast and was compared to the atlantic monthly and bret hart was probably the most famous writer in the west to come out of the american west and he was the editor and she contributed a column to every single issue for almost a decade. once she came to a claimed she was a bit of a celebrity coming here. the reason that she took the job as librarian wants because her sister died and she became the
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primary breadwinner for her family of five and she needed a job to support the family. so, she was the librarian for the oakland public library and worked in the library for et nears. and her own writing suffered during that time and she was always a mentor to other and was encouraging to other people who were interested in the literature and writing. and jack london, john london was his name but he went by jack was one of the hundreds of thousands of kids that came into the library, said he came in with his mother's library card and request a book is.
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it took her several visits to actually get a the name from him because he was so shy and he always kept his head down to ask for books and so she got the book and praised him on his choice and he always remembered it and years and years later when he became a famous writer he wrote a letter remembering that very day. the old oakland library days. do library days. do you know you were the first one who ever complimented me on my choice of reading matter if you only knew how proud your words may be. so i thought a great deal of view. you. i didn't know you were a poet or that you ever did such a thing as right online. but i stood in review. sincerely yours, jack london.
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she traveled to new york and went to the chicago world fair where she was commissioned to write for the statute and the california and new york at the luncheon club for women she met some famous writers in new york and then came back and continued to try to build the career by writing and giving lectures but it was never enough money to live on because as poets know today it's hard to make a living as a poet and one time a fan came up to her and said our family just lives on your poetry and she says that's nice. it's more than i've been able to do. it's important to remember that around the turn of the century when she began working at the library at the club she was
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diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, so she had very bad arthritis for the rest of her life so what happened was in 1915 she was crowned at the california's first laureate and then in 1919, still frustrated with the output of poetry, and remember she had already published two collections. she had written several hundred if not more but she was unsatisfied with the amount of poetry that she had written. so at 78-years-old she packed up and moved to manhattan and for four winters, she lived in new york and wrote for the final collection and only came home for the summer only because she couldn't afford to go live in
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the mountains or the coast when it was hot in the summer so she came back to san francisco in the summer but lived in a hotel for the winters in new york and for some reason, her arthritis, she didn't have arthritis when she was in new york so she was able to work and had a minor role as a poet in new york and spoke alongside other famous poets and was a guest speaker at the society in america and was featured in the sun magazine and she kind of had a resurgence from the news that came to visit and she felt alive and active and loves the younger people have felt welcomed by them and had a really great time in those four years. when she came back after the


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