Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18, 1911 -- Poetry Magazine Is Launched

Harriet Monroe
November 18, 1911 – Harriet Monroe announces that she has garnered thirty pledges of $250.00, seed money for a new publication dedicated exclusively to poetry.  The magazine will allow young and unknown poets a forum that is largely non-existent in periodicals of the time.  Monroe says, “The average magazine editor’s conception of good verse is verse that will fill out a page.  No editor is looking for long poetry.  He wants something light and convenient.  Consequently, a Milton might be living in Chicago today and be unable to find an outlet for his verse… In other words, the modern English speaking world says ‘Shut up!’ to its poets, a condition so unnatural, so destructive to new inspiration, that I believe it can be only temporary and absurd.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 19, 1911] Monroe nurtured the magazine from the start, reaching out to poet Ezra Pound at the outset … it was Pound who forwarded the unpublished T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to Monroe, and Poetry was the first magazine in which the poem was published.  Monroe died in 1936 of a stroke, but under the leadership of the editors that followed the magazine continued its excellence until in 2002 Ruth Lilly made a bequest of more than 100 million dollars to the magazine and its foundation.  One of the offshoots of the bequest is the amazing Poetry Center, designed by John Ronan at 61 West Superior Street, a building that contains a 30,000-volume poetry library, an exhibition gallery, a performance space for public events, and offices for the foundation and the magazine.

November 18, 1863 – As a result of a collision that has destroyed the Rush Street Bridge, all traffic across the river, north and south, is directed across the bridge at Clark Street.  Chaos.  According to the Chicago Tribune, “Yesterday afternoon, the bridge was open for a few minutes, to allow a number of vessels to pass, and the omnibuses, drays, hacks family carriages, farmers’ wagons, etc, collected until the street was completely filled at the bridge, and extending into Lake street some distance, and for fully two squares south on Clark street.  Teams became restless, wagons got tangled and wedged in, drivers swore and scolded, each claiming the right of way, etc.”  The paper uses the commotion to editorialize in favor of quickly filling subscriptions to build a new bridge at State Street, following up on the city’s offer to provide half of the cost of the bridge if businesses and companies would supply the other half, an amount of about $14,000.  The completed State Street Bridge is shown in the 1868 photo above.

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