Happy Birthday, Carl Sandburg

Today is the birth date of Carl Sandburg. Sandburg is mostly known for his poetry. The most famous or well-known quote from Carl Sandburg is probably his description of Chicago as: “Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders.” 

In addition to writing poetry, Sandburg also wrote non-fiction (in fact he won his first Pulitzer prize for a biography of President Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln: The War Years) and fairy tales in a collection he entitled Rootabaga Stories.  These stories were originally created for his own daughters because he wanted them to have stories of American experience, since he thought European fairy tales of knights and princesses were culturally specific to European experience. Instead, he set his stories in the Midwest in a place called Rootabaga Country, populated by farms and corn fairies. These stories are also filled with what is often called “nonsensical” language (think Jabberwocky or even Dr. Seuss), but they were not simply intended for children. Sandburg himself wrote that these stories were  “. . . attempts to catch fantasy, accents, pulses, eye flashes, inconceivably rapid and perfect gestures, sudden pantomimic moments, drawls and drolleries, gazings and musings–authoritative poetic instants–knowing that if the whir of them were caught quickly and simply enough in words, the result would be a child lore interesting to child and grown-up.”

Happy Reading!



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