Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know?

Today's post is another in an occasional series that aims to offer something you might not know about poets and poetry. This edition includes facts about poets' birthplaces and homes.

Did You Know...

The residences of more than a dozen U.S. Poets Laureate have been photo-documented by poets Dan Vera and Kim Roberts for their continually augmented Website DC Writers' Homes. In addition to the image and the address of each of the poets' homes, a brief biographical profile is provided. Site users can search alphabetically by author or check the categories sections that include geographic region, neighborhood, and affiliations.

DC Writers' Homes on FaceBook

DC Writers' Home Blog

✦ Georgia poet Sidney Lanier (1842-1881) was a highly regarded musician. He played the piano, flute, piano, organ, violin, banjo, and guitar, and held first chair flute in the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland, for seven seasons. He also was awarded a federal commission to compose a cantata for the centennial celebration of the United States, which took place in Philadelphia in 1876. Visitors to the beautiful 1840 Sidney Lanier Cottage, Macon, Georgia, a National Poetry Landmark, can see a rare alto flute that Lanier played in Baltimore.

Video, Sidney Lanier Cottage, on Vimeo

✦ The longest bridge in Georgia is Brunswick's Sidney Lanier Bridge, which is 7,780 feet long and 486 feet high. 

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) apprenticed himself to the contractor hired to build "Tor House", his home in Carmel, California, but he alone constructed the outbuilding "Hawk Tower". Named for the craggy knoll ("tor") on which Robinson sited it and built of granite gathered from the shore of Carmel Bay, Tor House was modeled after a Tudor barn in England. Hawk Tower was his wife Una's retreat and a playhouse for the couple's sons. Jeffers wrote all of his major works at Tor House, which today is operated by a nonprofit foundation that gives tours, sponsors a seasonal reading and performance series, and underwrites the annual Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry.

✦ A railroad cottage in Guthrie, Kentucky, was the birthplace of Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989). That cottage today is the Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum, which has on display Warren's books, family photographs, and various childhood possessions, including a set of books on electricity. 

✦ The grandfather of Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was a florist whose greenhouses were behind the poet's childhood home in Saginaw, Michigan. Roethke's father and uncle made the greenhouse business the largest in the state before selling it in 1922. The greenhouses no longer exist but Roethke House, designated a National Literary Landmark in 2004, remains and is open for tours.

Read "Michigan Authors: Poet Theodor Roethke Still a Celebrated Figure in Saginaw", MLive, August 24, 2013; and "Dow Employees Volunteer to Renovate Theodore Roethke House in Saginaw", MLive, July 31, 2013.

Dave Dempsey and Jack Dempsey, Ink Trails: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors, Michigan State University Press, 2012

Friends of Theodore Roethke on FaceBook 

✦ The notice of the death of Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is nailed to the front door of The Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey. The Greek-revival wood-framed structure, now a state historic site, was the only home Whitman owned. 

✦ Frances ("Fanny") Appleton Longfellow, second wife and muse of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), died in 1861, after her dress caught fire from a candle while she was at home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Longfellow House, which was purchased as a wedding gift by Fanny's father, has a notable history. George Washington and his wife Martha lived there and entertained as house guests Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and his wife Abigail.

The Friends of the Longfellow House

Mass Moments

Longfellow's House on FaceBook

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