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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Voice For America

“Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.” – Carl Sandburg

Born on Jan. 6, 1878, Sandburg said he never set out to win any prizes for his writing and, in fact, wanted to “write my own way,” even though that often was at odds with what his contemporaries were doing.  All that did, of course, was win him most of the major writing prizes, including three Pulitzers – the only poet to ever win that many.

He actually won two Pulitzers for poetry and one for his biographical masterpiece, Abraham Lincoln, still considered one of the definitive biographical works on our 16th President.  His others were for Corn Huskers and for his Complete Poems.   
      Like so many great writers of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Sandburg began his writing career as a journalist (for the Chicago Daily News) before turning to a wide range of other types of writing, led by his poetry.  His journalistic pieces, biographies, novels, children's literature, and film reviews were ranked among the best writings of his day. And, in his “spare” time, Sandburg collected and edited books of ballads and folklore.

As a poet, he enjoyed unrivaled appeal, perhaps because the breadth of his experiences connected him with so many strands of American life.  When he died in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed, “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”

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