Vachel Lindsey

It's the birthday of the poet Vachel Lindsey, born in Springfield, Illinois (1879). His parents wanted him to become a doctor, but he dropped out of medical school after three years and tried to make a living drawing pictures and writing poetry. After struggling for several years and working for a time in the toy department of Marshall Fields, he decided to walk across the United States, trading his poems and pictures for food and shelter along the way.

Then in 1913, Poetry magazine published Lindsay's poem "General William Booth Enters into Heaven," and it was a big hit. He became one of the leaders of the movement to revive poetry as an oral rather than a written art form, and he spent much of the rest of his life traveling around the country, reciting his work for audiences.

The Writer's Almanac