Carl Sandburg and Sunburnt West

A fantastic performance at Colorado College, Colorado Springs in 2014. This three-hour production recreates Sandburg's vision of the American West in the shadow of Pike's Peak. "Stand up, sandstone slabs of red - Tell the overland passengers who burnt you." ~ Carl Sandburg, Slabs of the Sunburnt West.

When seeing Pike's Peak for the first time, Sandburg says ~ "There's the hand of God." He saw this amazing view on his hobo trip in 1897. Along this trip from Illinois to Colorado, he became enamored with the western landscape and its music.

Carl Sandburg visited Colorado Springs, CO in 1929 with an interdisciplinary program that held the audience spellbound with his readings from his biography of Abraham Lincoln, poems from his Slabs of the Sunburnt West, and western folk tunes.

But Sandburg was in Colorado Springs earlier on his infamous hobo trip in 1897 when he was nineteen – he went from Galesburg, Illinois to Pikes Peak, Colorado.  When he saw the Rockies, he exclaimed “There’s the hand of God.” Along the way while bedding down in hobos camps, he learned from his fellow travelers the songs and ballads they sang and their travel stories and that he gathered them together in The American Songbag, 1927.  Songs such as these relived the American West ~ Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie, Billy the Kid, The Gallows Song, This Land Is Your Land.  And his poetry envisions a mystical landscape.  “The Rocky Mountains are tacked tall on the skyline. – Sunrise and dawns wash on the skyline every morning. – Sunset features of foam float red and fade pink.”~ Carl Sandburg, Pike’s Peek.

Kate Benzel’s production 85 years after his 1929 visit revives Sandburg’s affection for the West – its poetry and songs.  In the shadow of Pike’s Peak this production at Colorado College in Colorado Springs collaborated with Colorado talent – David Mason, Colorado Poet Laureate, and Sons and Brothers Trio, the premiere band from the front range.

Written by Kate Benzel
* Poster by Colorado College Art students
* Producer - Kate Benzel
* Cast Members: Poets-Chuck Peek, David Mason, Colorado Poet Laureate
* "Jesse James" traditional performed by Mike Adams, Sons and Brothers Trio - Aaron Wolking, Joseph Wolking, Mike Wolking
* Dave Mason reading from his "Ludlow," Red Hen Press, 2007
* Emcee - Chuck Peek
* Recorded by Mark Derryberry, Derryberry Audio
* Funded by Colorado College Departments of English and Theatre & President's Office

People: Mike Adams Categories: Literature, Music