“They All Want To Play Hamlet”




At one time, Carl Sandburg was everywhere: as a working-class people’s poet, a folk music populist, and an award-winning historian. He’s not as widely listened to anymore, but recently Linda Shalom and I performed some of his poems, broadcast over WBAI radio, on the Arts Express program.

We had great fun becoming familiar with, and voicing, these poems. You can listen by clicking on the grey triangle above.

10 thoughts on ““They All Want To Play Hamlet”

  1. That was great!! I never knew he had a class consciousness!! I wonder what poems of his they allowed us to read in school. Not the ones you guys read, that’s for sure. I loved the interview with the mayor of Gary!!

    Thanks!! mar

    • Thanks, Marilyn. He was a really interesting guy. I knew very little about him before doing this, but the thing I think that most fascinated me about him was the way that his American Song Bag prefigured Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie by several decades.

      He was also married to photographer Edward Steichen’s sister and was instrumental in putting together Steichen’s Family of Man photographic exhibit, which travelled around the world in the 50s, including Moscow.

  2. The first poem (penitentiary) reminds me of the long soliloquy/rant by Edward Norton in the 25th hour. Maybe they got it from this poem…

    • I saw that movie quite a while ago, but I’m afraid I don’t remember the rant. I’ll keep a lookout for it on Netflix. But the poem is definitely one of my favorites of Sandburg’s. Thanks for listening.

  3. “….no beautiful thing lasts.”

    Great article Jack(!).
    Because of it,
    hopefully(!..!), we might prove Carl WRONG,
    on this one!

    It was a pleasure to hear.

    • Thanks, Dennis.
      Your comment reminds me of the Shakespeare sonnet which ends,
      “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
      So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”

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