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Vachel Lindsay
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    (November 10, 1879-December 5, 1931)
    Born in Springfield, Illinois
    Birth name was Nicholas Vachel Lindsay
    Poems include 'The Congo,' 'General William Booth Enters Into Heaven,' 'Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,' 'The Dandelion,' 'Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket' and 'The Jazz Birds'
    Nicknamed 'the Prairie Troubador'
    Early in his career, he hiked about the country trading his poems for food and shelter. He noted about his first trip, 'No one cared for my verse, and I turned beggar out of sheer desperation.'
    He sometimes donned blackface to perform his poem 'The Congo.'
    W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, 'Lindsay knows two things, and two things only, about Negroes: The beautiful rhythm of their music and the ugly side of their drunkards and outcasts. From this poverty of material he tries now and then to make a contribution to Negro literature.'
    When he was 45, he married a woman half his age.
    In a fit of paranoia, he drank lye, declaring 'They tried to get me -- I got them first.'
    He was known for his dramatic poetry readings.
    He gave a poetry reading to President Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet.
    He wrote 'The Art of the Motion Picture' (1915), generally considered the first book of film criticism.
    William Butler Yeats praiseed his poetry for its musical quality.
    He served as a mentor to poets Sara Teasdale and Langston Hughes.
    He influenced the Beat Generation poets.

Credit: C. Fishel

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