1985 Notable Authors

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Norbert Blei
Carl August Sandburg

Norbert Blei, 1935-

Norbert Blei expatriated from Chicago to Ellison Bay (Door County) Wisconsin in 1969, after visiting the area for five years. Since then, he has celebrated his adopted home in various works, including articles and poetry, but most significantly in his Door County Trilogy: Door Way, 1981; Door Steps, 1983; and Door to Door, 1985.

Blei's other work includes The Watercolored Word, 1968, a collection of concrete poetry and visual short stories; The Hour of the Sunshine Now, 1978, an anthology of traditional and modern short stories; The Second Novel, 1978, subtitled: Becoming a Writer, and Adventures in an American's Literature, 1982, a fictionalized account of his early days in teaching.

Mr. Blei continues to teach, including an annual workshop at The Clearing in Ellison Bay, and in 1984 he taught a course at the Rhinelander School of the Arts. Besides these courses in creative writing, Blei has taught and/or read at Ashland, Branch, Ladysmith, Stevens Point and other locations in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Blei's short stories, articles, poems and book reviews have appeared in Spoon River Quarterly, Wormwood Review, Kayak, Story Quarterly, December, The New Yorker, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Milwaukee Journal, American Libraries, and the Washington Post.

Norbert Blei has firmly established himself both regionally and nationally as a dedicated, respected, working Wisconsin writer of quality, and is hereby nominated as a Notable Wisconsin Author for 1985.

Carl August Sandburg, 1878-1967

Carl Sandburg spent five important years in Wisconsin, from 1907 through the summer of 1912. It was here that he further developed the strong political convictions which would remain with him throughout his life and pervade much of his writing. It was during this period that the writing of poetry became an important commitment in his life. And it was here that he married and his first child was born. Among communities in which he lived are Oshkosh, Menomonee Falls, Appleton and Milwaukee.

Poet, biographer, essayist and writer of children's stories, Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois on January 6, 1868, son of a Swedish blacksmith. he left school at age 13, but later attended Lombard College in Galesburg. He received the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1940 for Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, the final part of a biography totaling six volumes for which he spent 20 years doing research. In 1951 he received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Collected Poems.

Sandburg came to Wisconsin when he was 30 years old. He was hired by the Socialist-Democratic Party as an organizer in the Lake Shore and Fox River Valley districts. While attending a party meeting in Milwaukee, he met the brilliant, radical Lillian Steichen of Menomonee Falls, younger sister of photographer Edward Steichen. Sandburg married her in 1908.

He contributed political and philosophical copy for many state newspapers; lectured on Walt Whitman as well as politics in Manitowoc, Two Rivers, Appleton, Sheboygan, Oshkosh and other east-central Wisconsin towns; and eventually moved to Milwaukee to become secretary to Mayor Emil Seidel. He worked for both The Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel using the name Charles Sandburg and, in some cases, the pseudonym of Armstrong. He began selling stories to national magazines during this period.

In 1912 he moved his small family to Chicago and went to work for the Chicago Evening World. in 1913, largely through the persistence of Lillian, what have come to be known as his "Chicago poems" were published by Poetry magazine, and his name found a prominent place in American letters. Sandburg spent the rest of his life writing, lecturing, collecting folk songs and speaking out on behalf of the country's workers. The important role of Lillian Steichen in his life is recorded in A Great and Glorious Romance: The Story of Carl Sandburg and Lillian Steichen by their youngest daughter, Helga Sandburg, published in 1978 by Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, Inc.