Rediscovering Carl Sandburg – A Spokesman of "The People"

September 22, 2012 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

Carl-Sandburg-American-Masters-WPT-PBS“Would you rather be remembered as a poet, a biographer, a historian, or what?”

That question posed to Carl Sandburg late in his life also could have included, folk singer, news reporter, labor organizer from Wisconsin, diplomat, anarchist, an on and on. No matter how you remember Carl Sandburg, American Masters will cover it, and more, in its new biopic “The Day Carl Sandburg Died.”

The way American Masters sees it Carl Sandburg was synonymous with the American experience, a spokesman on behalf of “the people.” But when he died in 1967, his legacy began to fade from literary prominence. Much of his work was disparaged or forgotten.

But Sandburg’s work is in the midst of a revival, and American Masters tells that story well. The film is delightfully entertaining, sprinkled with performances from today’s poets and singer/songwriters who are remembering and rediscovering Sandburg’s work. At the heart of the film, though, is Sandburg and his rise from impoverished beginnings on the Illinois prairie to the halls of Congress to “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Tying the film together is the poetic music of Zoe Keating. The “one-woman orchestra’s” contemporary cello arrangements add a mystique to the film that few biopics are able to match. If you like what you hear, grab a copy of Keating’s latest album “Into the Trees” on (WPT is an Amazon associate, which means when you buy the album via this link, Amazon gives WPT a portion of the sale).

American Masters “The Day Carl Sandburg Died” premieres on-air and online Sept. 24. For now, you can visit the American Masters website for an extensive trove of web extras including Sandburg’s poems, interviews with Pete Seeger, and a Spotify playlist of Sandburg’s folk songs.

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