Yevtushenko at Connemara, Flat Rock NC
I'm not sure what was better, helping Yevgeny Yevtushenko finish a poem while driving down the interstate to his performance, or drinking a beer with him afterwards and discussing the decline of the American empire. In their own way, each were memorable moments, and yet again reminders of the remarkable journey making this film continues to be. The poem was a tribute to Sandburg and Steichen and he performed it to great effect.
In 1959, Yevtushenko was an emerging young Soviet poet who dared to write anti-Stalinist words in the heat of the Cold War. When Carl Sandburg and Edward Steichen visited Moscow for the famous exhibition of Steichen's 'The Family of Man' photo exhibit Sandburg and Steichen both spent time with the promising young poet. The day after his performance at Wofford College in Spartanburg South Carolina we interviewed Yevtushenko for our film, with him telling us how the time spent with these two iconic Americans significantly influenced his view of the world and his career. Look for a clip to be posted soon.
(Yev working on the poem)
Also in April we spent an intense and enthusiastic few days in Galesburg Illinois capturing an extensive interview with professor and poet Robin Metz, a debut performance by slam poet Marc Smith of his tribute to Carl Sandburg (along with an entertaining interview) and some of the sharpest slam poets in the country performing Sandburg poems in a bar packed with poetry fans and competitors. It was exciting and expanding material for the evolution of our documentary.
Finally even more good news. We've received a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, and with that we'll be able to afford to make another research and production trip back the the state of Sandburg's birth. And! we have just been awarded a North Carolina Humanities Council award which will enable us to host a number of Sandburg scholars in Flat Rock for interviews and public presentations early this fall.