Back to Blog

The Poetry of Carl Sandburg

American poet and writer, Carl Sandburg was born on this day in 1878. He won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as “a major figure in contemporary literature.” While Sandburg is no longer a contemporary, his poems still have a place in today’s classrooms. Here are resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org that show how.

Using the lens of culturally sustaining pedagogy, this case study examines a nine-week instructional unit in poetry in an urban seventh-grade English language arts classroom. Works of Carl Sandburg were part of a module titled “A Place Called Home.”

In “I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts” the idea of conflict-resolution is introduced by reading the poem “Choose” by Carl Sandburg.

Works by Sandburg can be used to look at language. “Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio” can be used to introduce the literary device of onomatopoeia and explore how the technique adds to a writer’s message. “Fog” is a great example of extended metaphors, and can be used to exemplify the definition of extended metaphor.

In this lesson plan, students research mask-making from various cultures, highlight the masks’ connections to cultural practices, compose poetry to reveal their understanding, analyze their own culture, and create personal masks and poetry. “Aztec Mask” by Carl Sandburg is the core text for this activity.

A fun fact is that Carl Sandburg spoke at 1953 NCTE Convention banquet! What Carl Sandburg piece speaks most to you?