“What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists.” – Archibald MacLeish
MacLeish, one of the so-called “Lost Generation” of writers and artists who made Paris their home in the 1920s, followed a path leading from rebellious writer to (according to American Libraries) “One of the hundred most influential figures in librarianship during the 20th century.”
Born in Illinois on this date in 1892, MacLeish served as Librarian of Congress and was instrumental in developing the position of U.S. Poet Laureate, a post he himself could have filled (but didn't) as one of the nation’s most renowned poetic writers.
Associating himself with the Modernist School, he wrote so eloquently and powerfully that he ended up with dozens of prizes including two Pulitzers for Poetry and another for Drama. His dramatic winner, the Broadway play J.B. – a modern day re-telling of the Book of Job – also won Broadway’s Tony Award.
Often at odds with journalists, he once said, “Journalists don’t understand how poets work. Journalism is concerned with events, poetry with feelings. Journalism is concerned with the look of the world, poetry with the feel of the world. Poets are literal-minded men who will squeeze a word till it hurts.”
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