Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free verse poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the Spoon River, which ran near Masters’ home town of Lewistown, Illinois. The aim of the poems is to demystify rural and small town American life. The collection includes 212 separate characters, in all providing 244 accounts of their lives, losses, and manner of death. Many of the poems contain cross-references that create an unabashed tapestry of the community. The poems originally were published in 1914 in the St. Louis, Missouri literary journal Reedy’s Mirror, under the pseudonym Webster Ford.

Edgar Lee Masters (August 23, 1868 – March 5, 1950) was an American attorney, poet, biographer, and dramatist. He is the author of Spoon River Anthology, The New Star Chamber and Other Essays, Songs and Satires, The Great Valley, The Serpent in the Wilderness, An Obscure Tale, The Spleen, Mark Twain: A Portrait, Lincoln: The Man, and Illinois Poems. In all, Masters published twelve plays, twenty-one books of poetry, six novels and six biographies, including those of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Vachel Lindsay, and Walt Whitman.

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