Poetry Friday: An autumn treasure from Carl Sandburg

Before we get to today’s post, I want to remind you that you still have time to enter the drawing for a free copy of “Night Wishes,” courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers! Just leave a comment on last Friday’s post, or share the post (or the previous post!) on Facebook or Twitter – and be sure to tag me each time, so I can give you your correct number of entries! I’ll pick one name at random at the end of the month, Sept. 30, and will announce the winner right here on Friday, Oct. 2. Good luck!


A few weeks ago, I was sorting through many of the items I had pulled from my parents’ home last year, before we sold it, and I came upon a small book that used to belong to my mother:

This school book from Grosset & Dunlap, published in 1935, contains my mother’s signature from when she was 8 years old and in grade 3 in Lowell, Massachusetts. (remember when they used to teach penmanship in elementary school??) This contains some real gems from children’s poetry’s past, including poems from folks like Dorothy Aldis, Rose Fyleman, Elizabeth Coatsworth…and this fellow:

(click to enlarge)

While I would never attempt to equate myself with someone like Carl Sandburg, I do feel a bit of a kinship with him, as neither of us cared much for “modern” poetry – that is, the obtuse, convoluted, stream-of-consciousness sort of free verse that seems to pervade the annals of academia. In fact, he once called the contemporary poetry of his day, “a series of ear wigglings.”

Although he tended to write in free verse, Sandburg eschewed lofty words and esoteric imagery for simple, straight-forward yet beautiful language – much in the way Billy Collins does today. In fact, Sandburg’s close friend, Harry Golden, once called the poet “the voice of America singing” – and I suppose he was right.

Sandburg, by the way, had a great many experiences that shaped his personality All Stories by Carl Sandburg - The Atlanticand writing: he served in the Spanish-American War, spent time working for the Socialist Democratic Party in Wisconsin, and eventually landed in Chicago as a writer for the Chicago Daily News. The above poem was originally published in Sandburg’s first poetry collection, Chicago Poems (Cornell University Library, 1916), and as soon as I saw it in this collection I knew I had to share it here, now that autumn has finally arrived!

If you’re looking for more poetry, Jone MacCulloch is hosting Poetry Friday with a celebration of math & poetry – and I new book I’ve just learned about, Hop To It – Poems to Get You Moving, from our friends Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Pomelo Books!


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Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!


I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!


Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


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8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: An autumn treasure from Carl Sandburg

  1. lindabaie

    I love the voice Sandburg has chosen, Matt. With Halloween celebrated in a different way this year, I guess carving the old jack o’ lanterns will be the best fun! Did you know that we have two full moons in October, one next week, October 1st, & the other on Halloween itself, a first for a long time! This is also wonderful because it came from your mother’s book! I’m glad you shared!


  2. Matt, since we are moving soon, I have also been cleaning out boxes of items my mother left. It is wonderful that you found this book and captured a poem that fills my thoughts of our upcoming fall.season. It still feels like summer here or at least that is what my heart says but there are signs of autumn in my neighborhood.


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