Thursday, January 8, 2009

Carl Sandburg


I've always loved the poems of Carl Sandburg. But I never really knew much about the man. So I had a meeting cancel on me this afternoon and I took a peek at Wikipedia's entry for him only to discover what an utterly fascinating man he was.
Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois to Swedish immigrants. At the age of thirteen he left school and began driving a milk wagon. He subsequently became a bricklayer and a farm laborer on the wheat plains of Kansas. After an interval spent at Lombard College in Galesburg, he became a hotel servant in Denver, then a coal-heaver in Omaha. He began his writing career as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News. Later he wrote poetry, history, biography, novels, children's literature, and film reviews. Sandburg also collected and edited books of ballads and folklore. He spent most of his life in the Midwest before moving to North Carolina.

Sandburg fought in the Spanish-American War with the 6th Illinois Infantry, and participated in the invasion of Guánica, Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. He attended West Point for just two weeks, for failing mathematics and a grammar exam. Sandburg returned to Galesburg and entered Lombard College, but left without a degree in 1903.

He moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and joined the Social Democratic Party. Sandburg served as a secretary to Mayor Emil Seidel, mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912; Seidel was the first person to be elected mayor of a U.S. city on a socialist platform.

Sandburg met Lilian Steichen at the Social Democratic Party office in 1907, and they married the next year. Lilian's brother was the photographer Edward Steichen. Sandburg with his wife, whom he called Paula, raised three daughters.

Sandburg moved to Harbert, Michigan, and then suburban Chicago, Illinois. They lived in Evanston, Illinois before settling at 331 S. York Street in Elmhurst, Illinois from 1919 to 1930. Sandburg wrote three children's books in Elmhurst, Rootabaga Stories, in 1922, followed by Rootabaga Pigeons (1923), and Potato Face (1930). Sandburg also wrote Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, a two volume biography in 1926, The American Songbag (1927), and a book of poems Good Morning, America (1928) in Elmhurst. The family moved to Michigan in 1930. The Sandburg's house at 331 S. York Street, Elmhurst was demolished and the site is now a parking lot.

He moved to a Flat Rock, North Carolina estate, Connemara, in 1945 and lived there until his death in 1967.

Sandburg supported the civil rights movement, and contributed to the NAACP.
Too cool! He lived in Milwaukee and was a Socialist! How awesome is that???

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I always liked his work too. Didn't realize he'd lived some in N.C.!