Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg – 1919 and 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Source:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

For more on Carl Sandburg see: http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm

Downtime

Downtime – I’ve never been one to take downtime very seriously. I rarely do anything for rest and relaxation. It seems like a poor use of time. Lately, I’ve been forced to reevaluate my view of downtime.

Recently, pneumonia has been the catalyst causing me to reevaluate and to take it easier. I was embracing life at my usual 90 miles an hour. Getting up early and writing the first few hours of the day seven days a week were routine. Well. the illness had me where I couldn’t do it. My brain either through exhaustion or the medications just had little in the way of creativity. It was like I had checked out and went to the ends of the earth.

I learned that if I don’t give the brain some down time, if I try to force thinking and productivity, it won’t happen. What will happen is I’ll either just sit and surf the Internet or write poor quality at best text.

While I have had paid sales in the last year, nineteen pieces I placed were nonpaying. I finished a novel. I’m shopping it with agents at present.

As I write and publish more I realize everyone looks at what I write gets looked at under a microscope. People still believe writing is no more than my hobby and a waste of my time.

When I get rejections, I allow myself a to feel sorry, but don’t let it get me down. When I allow myself to process the bad, I can usually bounce back a lot quicker than if I just try to carry on.

It matters not if accepted or rejected today. What matters is that I write. If I’m going to be a writer, I have to write.

Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour

Education of a Wandering Man

This is about as close as an L’Amour fan will come to an autobiography. This is not a western novel, though it gives great insight into how he wrote and researched his books. The book starts with a reference to his high school class graduating while he was on a steamer in Indonesia.

L’Amour gives the reader a lengthy discussion of becoming self-educated through books, travel, and experience. I enjoyed the lengthy lists of books L’Amour read during his wandering years in the 30s.

I have logged what I read since reading the book in November 1990. It is a worthy discipline. I also started writing a short, generally no more than on page review of what I read after reading this book. It was the beginning of my writing a review or summary of each book I read.

L’Amour gives a breathtaking discussion of walking out of the Mojave Desert. It reminded me of my time at Fort Irwin, California (about 50 miles north of Barstow in the middle of similar land). L’Amour was a great researcher, and wrote from both personal experience and knowledge.

Disorganized, rambling, and repetitious, it is still an enjoyable book. Louis L’Amour emphasizes the value of education through experience and self-guided reading. He never degrades formal education. Required reading for any aspiring writer must include this book. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler.

Hello, I’m a Writer and Poet

Poetry & Prose Magazine February 2011
Poetry & Prose Magazine February 2011

I’m Jimmie A. Kepler. I write poetry, nonfiction, science-fiction, historical fiction, and book reviews. You’ll find my blogs and websites are: Speaking of … , Kepler’s Book Reviews, Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews, Kepler’s Military History, and Jimmie A. Kepler – Writer & Poet. You can find a list of my publications and poems at Jimmie’s publications and poems.

I have completed a Christian historical fiction novel, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas.” I support my writing and reading habit by working a day job. I work as a solutions support analyst for a Fortune 500 privately held company. I belong to the Wholehearted Writing group in Dallas.

Reading, poetry and writing are my passions. I grew up in a career United States Air Force family. In my youth, I worked in a grocery store, warehouse, folk-rock band as a rhythm guitar player, a vendor at a major league baseball stadium, and for a milk distributor. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with minors in English and military science.

I served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army on active duty for three years and then five years in the United States Army Reserves. I graduated from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne School. I am honorably discharged as a Captain, United States Army Reserves.

Coming off active duty I went to graduate school full-time completing Master of Religious Education/Master of Arts degree. During graduate school, I worked as a custodian, day laborer, painter, preschool teacher, and as a route auditor for a soft drink distributor. For 16 years, I worked as a director of education and private school principal. I earned a doctor of education degree in educational administration.

I have been freelance writing over 30 years selling his first article in 1981. I have sold nonfiction magazine and trade journal articles including getting three cover articles. I also have short stories and poems published. I wrote a weekly column for over sixteen years as well over 150 books reviews in the military history genre for several publishers. I have written a historical fiction novel, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas” and am an active member of Wholehearted Writing in Dallas.

In the late 1990s, I went back to college studying computer science completing the core curriculum for the associate of applied sciences in computer systems. I earned CompTIA A+, i-Net+ and Network+ computer certifications as well as induction in for Phi Theta Kappa for academic excellence. While born in Texas, I have lived in Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, New Hampshire, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Texas. I am married, have three grown children and one grandchild.

The Muse, Transformational Grammar, and Writing

Example of Transformational Grammar
Example of Transformational Grammar

Have you ever had a muse, or a muse-like experience where you felt so passionate, or “taken over” by a creative spirit or compulsion to express and create? This is more than just “in the zone” … it’s almost as if someone or something takes over and writes for you.

Four examples of a muse in my life are shared below.

One – I was taking a senior level English course with the ominous title “Transformational Grammar and Advanced Creative Writing”. The course was exactly as the title … a writing class that made sure you dissected the grammar. Remember diagramming sentences? This was far more interesting as it dismembered each sentence to parts of speech, syllables, suffixes/prefixes and even lower in structure. You could get credit for the class as a senior level English or Linguistics course. The professor was my first muse. She believed in and encouraged my writing. She was the first to point out the value of reading regularly, journaling, and submitting what you wrote. She helped get me published the first time in a university publication and then a historical article in a military magazine. She told me I should embrace a bohemian lifestyle and write full-time. She turned me on to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac.

Two – I was motivated to the point of being driven – me driven, can you imagine? Anyway, I wanted to get into a doctoral program and needed to start getting published in my chosen discipline – religious education. I went to the right conferences, met the right people, and paid the price. This wasn’t a once and done thing. It was getting one then two then three then four then five then six a year published. Sheer vanity … I wrote some very good articles like “What I Learned when a Church Member Died”, an article about preaching my first funeral and the shortcomings of the religious education curriculum to prepare the associate minister in this critical area is an example.

Three – Nancy Karen Vandiver Garrison … I know her from high school. We also went to the same university. We did prose interpretation and literary criticism together in University Interscholastic League competition way back 45 years ago. Thanks to social media and email we converse almost every day for years and still do, as recently as in the last few seconds. She holds me accountable to keep on writing and never give up. More than anything, she encourages me to not give up or listen to the rejections. She also says what’s next when I get an acceptance. She is a darn good poet and supporter of the arts. Plus, we both love The Monkees!

Four – In 1992, I wrote 275 pages in one night for a nonfiction book I was working on. The damn broke, and it just flowed. I was on prescriptions that powered my writing. I was taking Seldane. Remember it? It  wasthe first non-sedating antihistamine. It was later taken off the market in 1998. It fueled me as it is about 80% amphetamine. It taken with Celebrex we now know were causes of my first TIA (commonly known as a mini-stroke) as per the cardiologist and neurologist. I have had some 50 to 75 page experiences in writing that happen the same way without drugs to energize me. Sometimes the poems bounce around in my head and won’t quit talking until I relocate them to paper. It can be very surreal. I’ve had several magazine articles I wrote that I have sold to publications like Children’s Leadership and Preschool Leadership that just flowed almost perfectly.

I find the muse magically appears when I put my behind in the chair and write.

Background on Muses: The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory personified). Hesiod’s account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes:
• Calliope -epic poetry;
• Clio -history;
• Euterpe -flutes and lyric poetry;
• Thalia -comedy and pastoral poetry;
• Melpomene -tragedy;
• Terpsichore -dance;
• Erato -love poetry;
• Polyhymnia -sacred poetry;
• Urania -astronomy.

Devotional: Overcoming Habits

temptationHave you ever struggled overcoming habits in your life? I know I have. The current battle is with weight and proper eating habits. I am on a mission to reduce my weight, lower my blood pressure and cholesterol as well as triglycerides. It is a huge challenge.

I realize I cannot do this in my own strength. I coincide support groups help. Weight Watchers worked as long as I attended. In the end it is going to take me making healthy choices and saying no the wrong choices.

The Bible has two verses that speak to me in this area. They are Romans 12:1-2. We read: Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We see the Apostle Paul appealing to us. The appeal is by the mercies of God. He is asking us as an act of worship to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.

This has me thinking of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV): 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Healthy eating and taking care of my body should be important because it is the temple of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) which lives in me as a Believer. It tells me to glorify Christ with my body. This transitions back to Romans 12:2 which again says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The memorization of Scripture is the only way I know to overcome so great a temptation as we face. Even Jesus quoted Scripture when confronted with the temptations of the Satan.

Join me in memorizing God’s Word to help with the temptations we face.

Creative Commons License
“Have you ever struggled overcoming habits in your life?” by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Devotional: Five Principles for Christian Writers

Ephesians 4

Five Principles for Christian Writers: Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Call to Write

Text: Ephesians 4: 1 – 6
Focus: Ephesians: 4: 1b – 3

Are you a Christian writer that writes inspirational fiction or devotions to encourage Believers in Jesus Christ? Maybe you are a writer whose drive is sharing Christian themes and principles for the mainstream market. Whatever your motivation, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (English Standard Version) says,

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

These verses give five principles that will help you: Walk In A Manner Worthy Of Your Call To Write

Principle One: Humility – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” – Ephesians 4: 1b—2a

As a Christian writer you should be full of Jesus, not self. The temptation is to be full of ourselves. When this happens, we are at risk of treating others with contempt. It should be about others, not ourselves.

Principle Two: Gentleness – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer you should be bold, but under control. This does not mean to be a wimp. Just as a powerful racehorse is under the control of the jockey, as a Believer we need to be under the control of the Spirit of the Living God. Share the love Jesus and his teachings without beating the reader over the head with the Holy Bible. Share how God’s Word is applicable t everyday living.

Principle Three: Patience – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” Ephesians 4: 1b- 2a

As a Christian writer we need to trust God believing His word would come true. We need to keep on keeping on. We need to accept the fact that it takes time to develop our writing craft.  “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but wish patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9

It is better to have a limited audience and impact lives for Christ than to be a New York Times bestselling author and have no impact or testimony for Christ.

Principle Four: Forgiving Love – “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4: 1b – 2.

As a Christian writer, we need to realize Christian love covers a multitude of sins. We should write with a love that loves no matter what. We have all heard it said “hate the sin, love the sinner.” That is exactly what we must do as writers. After all, as a Christian you are, by grace saved through faith … it is the gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10

In Christ we need to love people from where they are to faith and growth in Christ.

Principle Five: Unity of the Spirit in the Bond Of Peace – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version

Principal five is the sum of points one through four. All four points equal a bond of peace. We are bearing one another in love. Our writing should share and bring people to Christ, not drive them from Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 (English Standard Version).

We need to realize it is not a geographical or a denominational thing; it is a Jesus and a God thing.

Encourage your friends, keep reading and write.
Jimmie A. Kepler

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie A. Kepler on May 4, 2012 and edited on July 6, 2013.