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“In minds made better by their presence”: Celebrating Sagittarius Writers

Posted by Sarah Bofenkamp on

Sagittarians are the priceless paintings of the zodiac, the signs that people cross oceans to admire. They are the rush of a scratch-ticket purchase and the slow of an old clove cigarette. Sagittarians are the poems we write and never share, the strangers we see and never forget. They are Shirley Jackson and Rita Mae Brown, Sandra Cisneros and Richard Pryor.

An amorphous group, they are best identified by their tireless climb toward freedom. Louisa May Alcott, for instance, would free herself from the construct of marriage. Eileen Myles would shuck the straightjacket of sexuality and Gayl Jones, to great risk, would free her writing from whiteness.

For each in their own way, their resistance breeds its own magnetic pull. Consider the legendarily beautiful Clarice Lispector, whose readers were warned that her writing was more witchcraft than literature; or the mesmerizing Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, the most ruthlessly graceful woman in Western Massachusetts.

Sagittarians are Emily Dickinson too, clutching her earliest published poem in surprise. They are Mary Ann Evans in 1848, selling every one of her 1,500 debut copies… but under the pen name George Eliot. Ruled by Jupiter, the planet of luck, their winnings have ranged from fame to self-actualization and everything in between.

As brooding and existential as James Agee, as ambitious and independent as Joan Didion, and as alive as Gordon Parks - Sagittarians exist to feel everything, and to write it all down.

Sarah J. Bofenkamp is a reader, writer, and librarian living in Palouse, Washington.

More Notable Sagittarius Writers
George Eliot - November 22, 1819
André Gide - November 22, 1869
Marjane Satrapi - November 22, 1969
Gayl Jones - November 23, 1949
Frances Hodgson Burnett - November 24, 1849
Arundhati Roy - November 24, 1961
Eugène Ionesco - November 26, 1909
Charles M. Schulz - November 26, 1922
Marilynne Robinson - November 26, 1943
James Agee - November 27, 1909
William Blake - November 28, 1757
Rita Mae Brown - ​​November 28, 1944
Louisa May Alcott - November 29, 1832
C.S. Lewis - November 29, 1898
Madeleine L'Engle - November 29, 1918
Jonathan Swift - November 30, 1667
Mark Twain - November 30, 1835
Gordon Parks - November 30, 1912
David Mamet - November 30, 1947
Richard Pryor - December 1, 1940
George Saunders - December 2, 1958
Joseph Conrad - December 3, 1857
Rainer Maria Rilke - December 4, 1875
Christina Rossetti - December 5, 1830
Joan Didion - December 5, 1934
Karl Ove Knausgård - December 6, 1968
Willa Cather - December 7, 1873
Noam Chomsky - December 7, 1928
John Milton - December 9, 1608
Eileen Myles - December 9, 1949
Emily Dickinson - December 10, 1830
Clarice Lispector - December 10, 1920
Helen Oyeyemi - December 10, 1984
Naguib Mahfouz - December 11, 1911
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - December 11, 1918
Grace Paley - December 11, 1922
Gustave Flaubert - December 12, 1821
Kenneth Patchen - December 13, 1911
Shirley Jackson - December 14, 1916
Jane Austen - December 16, 1775
Arthur C. Clarke - December 16, 1917
Philip K. Dick - December 16, 1928
Saki - December 18, 1870
Michael Moorcock - December 18, 1939
Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson - December 19, 1830
Jean Genet - December 19, 1910
Sandra Cisneros - December 20, 1954

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