Saturday, November 22, 2008

Film plans to capture why Sandburg still matters

As I began my studies this morning, I intended to blog on Penelope (Penny) Niven’s Carl Sandburg: A Biography. You’ll hear the reason I was heading down that path another day. You will also have to wait to hear about Penny’s Carl and why the book is of value in the study of Lincoln.

You see, as I was surfing the Internet searching for a particularly moving quote Penny had once shared, I tripped over the most amazing blog. I just have to share it with you.

I learned today that an Asheville, North Carolina filmmaker, Paul Bonesteel, who as a child took a poety class on the lawn at Sandburg’s home, Connemara, is committed to doing a documentary about Sandburg. He talks about this painfully long, yet extremely rewarding project in his blog, The Day Carl Sandburg Died.

Sandburg matters – does his Lincoln?
Bonesteel has been at work on this project for a number of years, doing interviews, gathering funding, pulling things together in a meaningful way. As his project moved forward, his focus changed somewhat and his current working title was born. It became alarming to him as he began digging into the Sandburg legacy to learn that Sandburg’s voice in American culture seemed to be dying off. Some of Sandburg’s poems are even losing their places in our schools and in the anthologies our students use.

The mission then became more to delve into why Sandburg does matter. And the time was right when Bonesteel began his project. He captured visits with some pretty impressive people – Studs Terkel, Norman Corwin, Pete Seeger – which makes this even more significant. Timing was crucial. A few years later and he couldn’t have done this project with the breadth and depth with which he could now. Terkel died last month at age 96, Corwin is 98 and Seeger is 89. Two of Sandburg’s three daughters are no longer living. The people who can really tell us about Sandburg are slowly leaving to join him in that place where creative types go to continue the work they started here.

I understand many Lincoln scholars have problems with Sandburg and his work. Today’s post isn’t a place to debate that. Some other time we’ll talk about whether Sandburg’s Lincoln still matters. I think there are reasons it does, and I’ll show you my perspective on that in a future blog post.

For now, if you’re interested in Bonesteel’s work, please visit his blog. Ill try to follow up on its release and let you know when it’s released on TV.

I’m sure glad I stubbed my toe on Bonesteel today, I can’t wait to see his film and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Watch for more on Penny, Helga and Carl in future blogs.

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