Sad Men

What Writers Can Learn from the Great Depression

Posts tagged poems

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John Cabbage, the Garbageman Poet

All weekend, I was reading John Cabbage, the garbageman poet. He made headlines during the Great Depression for writing verse while steering a garbage scow for the NYC Department of Sanitation. I found a copy of his 1938 collection, Time & Tides

He was a member of the Raven Poetry Circle, and wore a white-brimmed hat and smiled for the camera in their photos. In a poem, he once compared his work to  “He shampoos and manicures the City’s streets / For he is the Barber of the Streets.”

Below, I’ve copied down lines from “My Children,” a short poem about economic inequality and memory. He ends by writing a spooky few lines about us, his future readers…

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Filed under Poems john cabbage raven poetry circle Great Depression

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Who Will Write About the 99%?

I can’t stop reading the steady stream of heartbreaking stories on We Are the 99%, a Tumblr blog celebrating the stories of regular people suffering during our Great Recession.

During the 1930s, the poet Kenneth Fearing (pictured, painted by Alice Neel) channeled the voices of angry, frustrated and sad Americans in electric poems, crossing Walt Whitman and hardboiled pulp fiction. He became one of the bestselling poets during the Great Depression, but we hardly remember his work today.

It makes me wonder—who are the authors writing the stories of the 99% in our time?

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Filed under Poems occupywallstreet