Monday, January 30, 2006

Vachel Lindsay

A new blog dedicated to the wider world of Vachel Lindsay has been launched today.

There are certainly many places on the Internet where one can learn all about this major American poet, but the Vachel Lindsay blog will be a unique place where students and fans of the poet can become a community. Community is what Vachel is all about.

Springfield is central in Lindsay's life and work, but Lindsay's "Springfield" can be anybody's town if they desire to make it the most democratic, the most beautiful and the most holy place on earth.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Literary Life

Springfield native Barbara Burkhardt has contributed to our city's extraordinary literary heritage with the official and definitive biography of Illinois novelist, William Maxwell. William Maxwell, A Literary Life was published by University of Illinois Press in 2005.

Maxwell spent his early childhood in Lincoln, Illinois and much of his writing depicts that setting around the time of World War I. Maxwell was a longtime fiction editor for The New Yorker and an editor and mentor of John Updike.

Burkhardt established unique access to her subject in 1991, interviewing the novelist at his apartment in New York City for a literary magazine. Her interviews with the Maxwell continued throughout the ‘90s until his death in 2000. She describes a man so committed to the written word that rather than responding verbally to her questions, he typed all of his responses on a typewriter while she sat in his presence and waited. Maxwell’s melancholic observation that human experience ends in oblivion unless it is captured in writing seems to have driven his career.

Burkhardt received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she organized the letters of William Maxwell for the Maxwell archives. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield.