Review ~ Smoke and Steel & Slabs of the Sunburnt West

Smoke and Steel & Slabs of the Sunburnt West by Carl Sandburg

Cover via Goodreads

1920. Sandburg, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, was virtually unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine. His work found beauty and glory in the simple America that surrounded him: the farms, industry, landscape, culture, and most importantly, the American people. Smoke and Steel, one of his earlier collections of poems, helped establish his reputation. (via Goodreads)

Carl Sandburg knew Joseffy. Even wrote a short “appreciation” of the magician which was published as a publicity flyer. That is the long and the short of why I chose a random book of Sandburg’s poetry from Open Library. Actually, it’s two collections smashed together in a 1920s-ish edition. The dubious beauty of Open Library is that the scans are of old books, missing flyleaves and student doodles included. This one had no publication data.

I’m not very analytic when it comes to poetry. What I like tends to be fairly arbitrary.

I like Sandburg.

I’m from the Mid-West/Heartland. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. My dad worked for Union Pacific. I remember when the Union Stockyards still processed livestock. There is an interesting tension in Mid-Western cities between industry and agriculture. And Sandburg is all over that. He paints a picture of Chicago and parts westward during the early years of the 20th century and makes me miss cornfields even as I appreciate the mountains outside my door.

I really don’t have much more to say other than that. I’ll close with my favorite from the collection, which is about none of the things above.

“Old-fashioned Requited Love”

I have ransacked the encyclopedias
And slid my fingers among topics and titles
Looking for you.

And the answer comes slow.
There seems to be no answer.

I shall ask the next banana peddler the who and the why of it.

Or—the iceman with his iron tongs gripping a clear cube in summer sunlight—maybe he will know.

Genre: Poetry
Why did I choose to read this book? Sandburg knew Joseffy
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes!
Format: In-browser ebook.
Procurement: Open Library

1 thought on “Review ~ Smoke and Steel & Slabs of the Sunburnt West

  1. Pingback: Best Reads 2013 | The Writerly Reader

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