This month marks the 100th birthday of Poetry magazine. It was founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe.
Monroe was born in 1860. The daughter of a prominent Chicago lawyer, she was a lonely child, and devoured the books in her father’s library. She became determined to pursue a literary career.
Her first poem was published in 1888, and over the next two decades Monroe established herself as a poet. She also served as an art and drama critic for various newspapers. Besides volumes of verse, she wrote a memoir of her late brother-in-law, architect John Wellborn Root.
Writing poetry is not a lucrative profession. A hundred years ago things were even worse. The few publications that accepted verse didn’t pay much, if they paid anything at all. And even after the work was printed, the poet was often stalled off with those immortal words, “The check is in the mail.”