Wednesday, June 21, 2017
61 W. Superior St.
Eugene Field will be inducted into the seventh class of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on Wednesday, June 21, at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St., Chicago). The induction ceremony begins at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m. Paul Durica, Laurie Lawlor, Thomas Joyce and June Sawyers will speak about the Field’s contributions to American letters, in particular his significance here in Chicago. Student poets, including Oak Park-River Forest’s Jeanese Shanks and Hands On Stanzas' Ireland Costello and Norah Ludwig (both from Skinner West Elementary), will dramatize some of Field’s better known poems for children. Whitney Field will accept the award on behalf of his great grandfather.
For fifty dollars a week, the Chicago Morning News lured popular newspaper columnist Eugene Field to relocate from Denver. In 1883, Field was already widely known, and his new column, Sharps and Flats, would continue his reputation for humorous essays. Living near the intersection of North Clarendon and West Hutchinson in the Buena Park neighborhood, Field chided current events and people, often in the arts and literature, and made a habit of criticizing his new city’s materialism. He called Chicago, “Porkopolis.” Soon, Field’s production of children’s verse increased, and his audience broadened. Field’s first poetry publication was in 1879, and more than a dozen volumes followed. Though Field’s intended audience appeared to be largely adults, his nostalgic recollections of growing up earned him the nickname “Poet of Childhood.” He also wrote a substantial number of short stories. Field died of a heart attack in Chicago at the age of 45, and is buried at Kenilworth’s Church of the Holy Comforter. The Eugene Field Memorial in the Lincoln Park Zoo features “Dream Lady,” an Edwin Francis McCartan sculpture based on the poem, “The Rock-a-By Lady from Hush-a-By Street.” The granite base depicts scenes from other Field poems, including “The Fly Away Horse” and “Seein Things.” His famous “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” as well as parts of “The Sugar Plum Tree” are carved into the sides. Other local memorials include an Albany Park field house named after the writer; Chicago, Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Wheeling, Rock Island and Normal elementary schools bearing his name; and Field Park in Oak Park.