Born in Galesburg, Illinois, and educated at Lombard College, Carl Sandburg for many years was drawn both to America's most radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World, and also to international socialism. The great poems of his first volume, Chicago Poems (1914), and of the next several years, some of them uncollected or unpublished, reflect his deep commitment to working people and his strong left politics, including his initial opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I and his interest in African American culture. His portraits of black life mix stereotypical elements with moments of real power. Sandburg would later travel the country collecting American folk songs and compile a massive biography of Abraham Lincoln. One of the most popular poets of his time, his full canon, only now coming into print, shows him to be a much tougher and more challenging poet than his posthumous critical reception would suggest. Readers interested in Sandburg should consult not only his Complete Poems, a somewhat misleadingly titled volume, but also the series of supplementary books currently being published.
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