Today, the Writer’s Almanac informs me, is the birthday of American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931). I became intrigued by Lindsay when I read in his Writer’s Almanac bio, “After struggling [as an artist and poet] for several years and working for a time in the toy department of Marshall Field’s, he decided to walk across the United States, trading his poems and pictures for food and shelter along the way.” Unfortunately, it was rough going: “No one cared for my pictures, no one cared for my verse, and I turned beggar in sheer desperation … [but] I was entirely prepared to die for my work, if necessary, by the side of the road, and was almost at the point of it at times.”
Could Lindsay have walked through North Dakota? If so, I could add him to my essay “Walks That Came Before” in The Walk Across North Dakota. But it seems unlikely. His bio on the Poetry Foundation’s website states that he walked from Florida to Kentucky in 1906 and from Illinois to Colorado and New Mexico in 1912. Though his experiences as an itinerant artist were disappointing for him in ways, I admire him for the effort.
The latest on The Walk Across North Dakota is that we are nearing the end of revising the book in response to a scholarly review, required for all NDSU Institute of Regional Studies Press manuscripts. We’ve added a lot of terrific content, more than 10,000 words. The book should be available in spring 2015.