Presented by: Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau—Paddy & Jon Lynn, with Patti Ecker
Spoon River Anthology, a collection of poems by Edgar Lee Masters published in 1915-16, represents a milestone in the literary history of Illinois and the United States. It was recognized as innovative not only for its creative experimentation with poetic form but also for its unvarnished representation of life in a middle-American small town through the voices of inhabitants of its cemetery, who reflect upon their experiences from beyond the grave. Previously, most poets who wrote about American small communities portrayed them as idyllic and their residents as virtuous. Masters, however, has his characters speak not only of their virtues but also of their vices, internal and interpersonal conflicts, moral dilemmas, and failures. A native of west-central Illinois, Masters based those characters largely upon people he knew in and around Lewistown. Their recognizability initially scandalized the residents of that community but made them compelling and relatable to generations of readers.
Historical actors Paddy and John Lynn will portray characters from Spoon River Anthology in costume, performing approximately 30 of the poems. Their renditions will be interspersed with folk and popular music of the period performed by singer, guitarist, and banjoist Patti Ecker.
About the presenters:
The talented trio performing Spoon River Anthology is comprised of Paddy Lynn, a Chicago-area storyteller, author, and actress; Jon Lynn, actor and retired theatre and English teacher who taught Spoon River frequently during his 35-year career; and Patti Ecker, an accomplished Chicagoland singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and entertainer.
Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council Agency], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by speakers, program participants, or audiences do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH, Illinois Humanities, our partnering organizations, or our funders.