Wednesday, November 07, 2012
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Vachel Lindsay home celebrates author and artist's 133rd birthday

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[November 07, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- Fans of author and artist Vachel Lindsay (or anybody who simply enjoys a party) can join the celebration of his 133rd birthday Saturday. The party at the Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site includes cake and cider, crafts for the kids, and silent movies.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children can make paper turtles inspired by Lindsay's poem "The Little Turtle." Everyone gets to enjoy some birthday cake and spiced cider or coffee. Tours of the historic home -- located at 603 S. Fifth St., just south of the governor's mansion -- take place throughout the day.

The Vachel Lindsay Repertory Group will read selections from his poetry at 11:30. Actors portraying Lindsay and his mother, Catharine Lindsay, will appear, too. Two silent movies discussed in Lindsay's landmark book "The Art of the Moving Picture" will run during the afternoon. Charlie Chaplin's "Soldier Arms" starts at 12:30, followed by D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance."

The event is sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Vachel Lindsay Association.

The Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free public tours.


A brief biography of Vachel Lindsay

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, a major American poet, was born Nov. 10, 1879, at 603 S. Fifth St. in Springfield to Dr. Vachel Thomas Lindsay and Catharine Frazee Lindsay. He graduated from Springfield High School and studied at Hiram College in Ohio, the Chicago Art Institute and the New York School of Art.

Lindsay made three famous walking tours of the United States in 1906, 1908 and 1912, covering more than 2,800 miles. On these journeys, Lindsay traded poems for food and shelter, earning him the title of "The Prairie Troubadour."

Lindsay was catapulted to fame with the 1913 publication of his poem "General William Booth Enters into Heaven." Two years later his poem "The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus," calling for tolerance between Western and Eastern cultures, was printed by the U.S. secretary of the interior and sent to both houses of Congress in connection with the opening of the Panama Canal. His "Congo" and "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight" are well-known by generations of readers.

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Lindsay lectured at many universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Illinois. He performed his poetry in every state in the nation at the time. In 1925 he married Elizabeth Conner of Spokane. Lindsay, his wife and two children returned to his Springfield home in 1929, where he died on Dec. 5, 1931, in the bedroom directly above the room where he was born.

Lindsay called himself a "rhymer-designer" and created drawings to accompany his poems. He was a leading voice in the American "New Poetry" movement, with a total published work of some 20 volumes of poetry and prose. Lindsay and other major poets and artists of his day championed a new language to express new subjects, such as civil liberties, civic excellence, and humanitarian and aesthetic values. He wrote poems of vehement protest against spiritual and environmental blight.

Sinclair Lewis called Lindsay "one of our great poets, a power and a glory in the land." Author, poet and Illinois native Carl Sandburg said, "I rate (his poems) among the supremely great American poems."

Lindsay's Springfield home was his creative center, and he returned there many times during his career. He cited his hometown and state more than 500 times in his publications. "The things most worth while are one's own hearth and neighborhood," said Lindsay.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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