Friday, January 6, 2006

Hyacinths and biscuits

Of all the stuff that fills my email box the two good things I get every day are Quotes of the Day and the Writer’s Almanac. Most of you at one time or another have received some tidbit of information I’ve gleaned from one or the other.

The Writer’s Almanac includes a poem and then 3-4 literary birthdays with a brief bio. This bios interest me, some because I don’t know anything about the person and it’s always fun to learn something new and obscure, others because I either get inspired or am amazed that someone, like me, can achieve such acclaim.

Well today is Carl Sandburg’s birthday. I’m not going to lie and say I know anything about him other than I recognize his name and knew he was a lauded poet. Googling him I found out that though he was a Midwesterner, he ended up living in NC in his later years and he died in 1965.

Here’s the entry on Writer’s Almanac:

It's the birthday of journalist, poet, novelist and biographer Carl Sandburg, born in Galesburg, Illinois (1878). As a hobo he collected and learned a number of folk songs and published them in a collection called The American Songbag (1927). Eventually, he attended college and a professor, Phillip Green Wright, was the first to publish a book of Sandburg's verse, In Reckless Ecstasy, in 1904. He went on publishing poems along with articles about the labor movement but he didn't have any real financial success until a publisher suggested that he write a biography of Abraham Lincoln. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg's first bestseller. He moved to a new home and devoted the next several years to completing four additional volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize.
His Complete Poems won him his second Pulitzer Prize in 1951.

The thing that struck me about this information is he went from being a hobo to eventually attending college--how in the world does one do that?

I love this quote:
Carl Sandburg said, "[Poetry is] the successful synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits."

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