The Poet’s Calendar for October (List of Honored Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes)

For the last couple years or so, at the beginning of each calendar month I create something I’ve dubbed “The Poet’s Calendar,” which is a list of the Poet-Heroes (as well as non-writers/non-poets who I’ve dubbed my “Culture Heroes”) whose memory I honor, usually by marking their birthday in some way.  I often utilize this calendar when creating posts for my Poet-Heroes Series.  However, there are always far more Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes each month than I have time to write about every day, so I’ve decided to start sharing these calendars as a monthly feature for those who might likewise be interested in honoring the poets.

Thus, the following calendar is a list of the Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes who I will be honoring in various ways in October.  For those who are new to the subject, I’ve written an introduction to the ancient Greek concept of Poet-Heroes here: “The Dead Poets Society (Reviving the Ancient Greek Cult of the Poet).” Please keep in mind that my definition of “poet” is particularly broad and encompassing of many writers or thinkers or scholars in general.  The majority are poets, but some are better known for other aspects of their lives than their writing, and others are artists, musicians, and leaders/activists who weren’t writers at all, but who are personally important to me in various ways.  (To me, there is undoubtedly “poetry” to be found in a painting by Picasso or Simeon Solomon, a song by John Lennon or Nico, or a photograph by Herbert List – to use just a few examples from October.) Many of the Heroes and Heroines below are also important figures in LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) history, as I specifically like to honor my LGBTQ Ancestors (who I affectionately refer to as “The Men Who Loved Men, The Women Who Loved Women, and The Gender Nonconformists of All Eras”). Which reminds me that October also happens to be LGBT History Month in the United States – check out http://lgbthistorymonth.com/ for more information and some great resources, especially for educators!

I prefer to honor the Poet-Heroes on their birthdays.  When those dates are unknown, I try to look for an existing tradition, such as the Florentine Academy’s celebration of Plato’s birthday on November 7th.  One site that has been particularly useful in this regard (and an inspiration for my Poet’s Calendar) is The Perpetual Festival Calendar, (associated with The Shrine of Wisdom magazine – a Theosophical magazine published in the U.K. between 1919 and 1947), which includes festival dates for a number of ancient philosophers and poets (particularly the Neoplatonists). Also, since Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes are part of my practice of honoring the Heroes/Heroines, the Ancestors and the Dead, please note that I only honor those who have shuffled off this mortal coil.  (My page on The Global Literary Canon, however, also includes many great writers who are thankfully still alive and still writing.  Keep in mind that the best way to honor living writers is to buy their books, spread the word, and write positive reviews!)

There are many ways to honor the Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes on the days listed below.  The easiest way is to simply acknowledge their names as part of your daily devotional practice (if you have one), perhaps by adding them to a list of Ancestors, Heroes/Heroines, and/or honored dead.  If you happen to live near their gravesite (or near a statue, memorial, historical monument, or anywhere significant to their life and work), you could take this one step further by visiting this place and pouring out a libation or leaving an offering in their honor.  But the best and most obvious way is to somehow acknowledge and appreciate the creative work they’ve left behind.  Read one of their poems, or find an excerpt from their writing.  Check out one of their books (or CDs or films) from your local library.  If they were a musician or a visual artist, find an example of their work to listen to or view.  Find an inspiring quote and share it with someone.  Read a biography, even a brief one (below I’ve included links to biographies, mostly from Wikipedia, but also from GLBTQ.com – my favorite encyclopedia of queer history.)  You could watch a documentary about them, or a film inspired by their life or adapted from one of their books.  If you are particularly devoted to a specific Hero/Heroine, then you could write about them on your blog, thereby sharing their work with others.  If you are a teacher/educator, you might want to start your lesson that day with a quote or example of their work.  If you are a writer/artist yourself, perhaps their works will inspire you to create something new in their honor.  Any or all of these actions will honor them and thereby keep their memories alive.  What is remembered, lives.

Also, if there’s a writer/philosopher/artist/activist (or any deceased individual who has made a positive cultural impact) born in the month of October (or whose memory you feel should be celebrated in October) and who you think belongs here, please let me know in the comments and they can be added to the list!

The Poet’s Calendar for October
(A List of Poet-Heroes and Culture Heroes)

* = not actually born on this day, honored and remembered now because their actual date of birth is unknown.

October 1st:
William Beckford – Gothic novelist, art collector and flamboyant English aristocrat
Annie Besant – British Theosophist and writer
Louis Untermeyer – American poet and anthologist
Isaac Bonewits – American writer, druid, and founder of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)

October 2nd:
*Aristotle – Greek philosopher
Charles Ricketts – English artist, designer, writer and publisher, who lived with his  lifelong partner and artistic collaborator Charles Shannon (an English painter) for over 50 years
Mahatma Gandhi – Indian leader, philosopher, writer, and activist
Wallace Stevens – American poet
Assotto Saint – Haitian-born American poet, performance artist, and musician

October 3rd:
Allan Kardec – French spiritualist, writer and educator
Alain-Fournier – French novelist
Sergei Yesenin [aka Sergei Esenin] – Russian Poet
Louis Aragon – French poet, novelist and activist
Gore Vidal – American novelist, essayist, screenwriter and satirist

October 4th:
Juliette Adam – French author and feminist
Alan L. Hart – American physician, scientist, writer and one of the first female-to-male (FTM) trans individuals to undergo surgery in the U.S.
Violeta Parra – Chilean composer, songwriter, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist
C.A. Tripp – American psychologist, writer, scholar and researcher for Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey

October 5th:
Denis Diderot – French philosopher and writer
Chevalier D’Eon – French diplomat and spy whose first 49 years were spent as a man, and whose last 33 years were spent as a woman
John Addington Symonds – English poet, translator, scholar, and early gay rights activist
Teresa de la Parra – Venezuelan novelist
Flann O’Brien – Irish novelist, playwright and satirist
José Donoso – Chilean novelist and short-story writer
Václav Havel – Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician

October 6th:
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton – patron (and possibly lover) of Shakespeare, believed to be the “Fair Youth” and subject of Shakespeare’s first 126 love sonnets
Mikhail Kuzmin – Russian poet, musician and novelist

October 7th:
John Horne Burns – American novelist
Herbert List – German photographer

October 8th:
*Confucius [Kongzi, Kong Fuzi, K’ung Fu-tzu] – Chinese philosopher and sage
[Confucius memorial activities have been carried out annually in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rest of the world from September 26 to October 10]
Harriet Taylor Mill – English philosopher and women’s rights advocate
Marina Tsvetaeva – Russian poet
Frank Herbert – American science fiction author

October 9th:
Harriet Hosmer – American sculptor
Simeon Solomon – English painter
Mário de Andrade – Brazilian poet, novelist, ethnomusicologist, photographer and art historian
John Lennon – English musician, singer, songwriter and activist
Léopold Sédar Senghor – Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist

October 10th:
*Plotinus – Greco-Egyptian philosopher
*Thomas Traherne – English poet
R. K. Narayan – Indian novelist, essayist, translator and mythographer
Mercè Rodoreda – Catalan Spanish novelist
Claude Simon – French novelist
Harold Pinter – English playwright, screenwriter, director, actor and poet

October 11th:
Joe Simon – American comic book writer and artist (co-creator of Captain America)
Douglas Wilson – Canadian writer, publisher, and gay rights activist

October 12th:
*Demosthenes – Greek statesman and orator
Henry More – English philosopher of the Cambridge Platonist school
Aleister Crowley – English occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician and poet
Ding Ling – Chinese novelist and short fiction writer
Ann Petry – American author who became the first black woman writer with book sales topping a million copies
Robert Fitzgerald – American poet, critic and translator
Alice Childress – African-American playwright, novelist and actor
Arthur Evans – American writer, philosopher, and gay rights activist, author of Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture

October 13th:
Reed Erickson – American philanthropist, LGBT activist and female-to-male (FTM) trans trailblazer
Lenny Bruce – American comedian, social critic and satirist
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Pakistani musician, primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis

October 14th:
William Penn – Colonial American writer, philosopher, and early champion of democracy and religious freedom
Vernon Lee – English novelist, scholar, aesthete and writer of supernatural fiction
e. e. cummings – American poet, novelist, essayist, playwright and painter
Katherine Mansfield – New Zealand writer of short fiction
Hannah Arendt –  German-born American writer and political theorist

October 15th:
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) – Roman poet (possibly of Gaulish/Celtic descent)
*Nizami Ganjavi – Persian poet
Mikhail Lermontov – Russian writer, poet and painter
Friedrich Nietzsche – German philosopher, poet and classical philologist
Italo Calvino – Italian novelist and writer of short fiction
P. G. Wodehouse – English novelist, poet, playwright and humorist
John Kenneth Galbraith – Canadian-American economist
Michel Foucault – French philosopher, historian, philosopher, social theorist and literary critic

October 16th:
Oscar Wilde – Irish playwright, poet, novelist, philosopher and wit
Eugene O’Neill – American playwright
Paul Monette – American novelist, poet and memoirist
Nico – German singer, lyricist, composer, musician, fashion model and actress

October 17th:
Jupiter Hammon – American poet and activist, the first African-American writer to be published in the present-day United States
Georg Büchner – German playwright and poet
Yvor Winters – American poet
Nathanael West – American novelist, screenwriter and satirist
Jerry Siegel – American comic book writer (co-creator of Superman)
Arthur Miller – American playwright and essayist

October 18th:
Zhu Xi [Chu Hsi] – Chinese philosopher and scholar
Michael Wigglesworth – Colonial-era Puritan poet whose tortured diary described his homoerotic longings, including his identification as a godspouse of Jesus (who he regularly refers to as his “husband”)
Heinrich von Kleist – German poet, playwright and novelist
Henri Bergson – French philosopher
A. J. Liebling – American journalist, critic and food/travel writer
Wendy Wasserstein – American playwright

October 19th:
Marsilio Ficino – Italian philosopher, occultist and reviver of Neoplatonism
Thomas Browne – English author and scholar
John Woolman – Colonial-era American writer, activist and abolitionist
Leigh Hunt – English poet, essayist and critic
Miguel Ángel Asturias – Guatemalan poet, novelist, playwright, journalist and diplomat
Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead) – American actor, singer, performance artist and fierce drag queen

October 20th:
*Ammonius Hermiae – Greco-Egyptian philosopher
Arthur Rimbaud – French poet
Nellie McClung – Canadian novelist, feminist, politician, and social activist
Selma Lagerlöf – Swedish author and the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
Philip Whalen – American poet, novelist and Zen Buddhist monk

October 21st:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – English poet, critic and philosopher
Alphonse de Lamartine – French poet, writer and politician
William Dale Jennings – American LGBT rights activist, playwright and author

October 22nd:
Leconte de Lisle – French poet and translator
Sarah Bernhardt – French actress, “the Divine Sarah,” “the most famous actress the world has ever known”
Lord Alfred Douglas – English poet and translator, lover of Oscar Wilde
Timothy Leary – American writer, psychologist, activist and advocate of psychedelics

October 23rd:
*Boethius – Roman philosopher
Robert Bridges – British poet

October 24th:
Sarah Josepha Hale – American poet, essayist, editor, and activist, credited with getting Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday in the U.S.
August von Platen – German poet and playwright
Bob Kane – American comic book artist and writer (creator of Batman)
Denise Levertov – British-born American poet
Paula Gunn Allen – Native American poet, scholar and lesbian activist

October 25th:
*Taliesin – Legendary Welsh poet and bard
*Geoffrey Chaucer – English poet, the Father of English Literature
Benjamin Constant – Swiss-born French philosopher, writer and politician
Max Stirner – German philosopher
Pablo Picasso – Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and designer
Karin Boye – Swedish poet and novelist
John Berryman – American poet and scholar
Claude Cahun – French artist, photographer, writer, and activist whose work played with concepts of gender and sexuality

October 26th:
*Maximus Tyrius – Greek rhetorician and philosopher

October 27th:
James Macpherson – Scottish poet, known as the “translator” (collector/adapter/forger/creator) of the Ossian cycle
Katherine Bradley – one-half of the literary lesbian duo who wrote poetry under the pseudonym of “Michael Field”
Dylan Thomas – Welsh poet and playwright
Sylvia Plath – American poet and novelist

October 28th:
Desiderius Erasmus – Dutch humanist, scholar and philosopher
Ivan Turgenev – Russian novelist and playwright
Evelyn Waugh – English novelist
Francis Bacon – Irish-born British painter

October 29th:
Shin Saimdang – Korean artist, poet and calligraphist
James Boswell – Scottish biographer of Dr. Samuel Johnson
Jean Giraudoux – French playwright, novelist, essayist and diplomat

October 30th:
André Chénier – French poet
Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Russian novelist and essayist
Paul Valéry – French poet, essayist and philosopher
Ezra Pound – American poet, translator, critic, essayist and promoter of Modernism
Ruth Gordon – American actress, playwright and screenwriter
Kostas Karyotakis – Greek poet

October 31st:
John Keats – English poet
Mary Wilkins Freeman – American novelist and writer of short fiction
Natalie Clifford Barney – American-born poet, memoirist and wit, hostess of a famous lesbian salon in Paris
Marie Laurencin – French painter, printmaker and designer
Napoleon Lapathiotis – Greek poet

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  1. Links to Think With… « Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous

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