August 10th, 2012
Carl Sandburg
Trailer: The Day Carl Sandburg Died

The Day Carl Sandburg Died | A film from Paul Bonesteel
Premieres Monday, Sept. 24, at 10 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings)

Carl Sandburg was, as he said it, “The Eternal Hobo.”

For much of the 20th century, Sandburg was synonymous with the American experience, a spokesman on behalf of the people. One of the most successful writers in the English language, Sandburg was a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner for his poetry (Cornhuskers, 1918, and Complete Poems, 1950) as well as part of his six-volume Lincoln biography (Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, 1939). He was also a groundbreaking journalist, folk song collector, children’s storyteller, political organizer and activist, novelist, biographer, and captivating performer. Yet, after his death, Sandburg’s literary legacy faded and his poems, once taught in schools across America, were dismissed under the weight of massive critical attack.

The Day Carl Sandburg Died features original interviews with Sandburg’s daughter Helga Sandburg Crile, his grandson John Carl Steichen, as well as Pete Seeger, the late and great Studs Terkel and Norman Corwin, poets including Ted Kooser, Marc Kelly Smith and Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Grammy-winning musician Dan Zanes, Sandburg biographer Penelope Niven, Ph.D., and notable scholars share stories about Sandburg and reflect on the modern relevance of his vast body of work, including Chicago Poems (1916), The American Songbag (1927), and The People, Yes (1936).

The Day Carl Sandburg Died finds Sandburg’s life story and creative legacy as relevant and provocative today as it was in 1916 when Chicago Poems changed American writing.

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American Masters The Day Carl Sandburg Died is a production of Bonesteel Films in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Paul Bonesteel is writer, director and editor. Matthew Gellert is producer. Davis Bates is narrator. Music is by Zoe Keating. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, Vital Projects Fund, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers. Additional funding for The Day Carl Sandburg Died is provided by the Illinois Humanities Council, Nebraska Humanities Council, and North Carolina Humanities Council.

  • Ben Moeller-Gaa

    I am so very glad that this is coming out. I have been very confused as to what happened to Sandburg in the latter half of the 20th Century. Perhaps this will help to restore his place at the head table of literature.

  • Sandra Meyer

    I recently read Penelope Niven’s biography of Carl Sandburg and enjoyed it very much. He had a long and fruitful life. Some of the things he wrote are quite timely now in 2012. It is the perfect time for this film to remind us that not only are many of today’s troublesome issues not really new but that many of CS’s words of wisdom are still relevant today. I want to hear him read some of the poems and sing too. Thanks for doing the film.


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