Guthrie Still Elusive at 100

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Leonard Cassuto of the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the absence of Woody Guthrie in the university because of his political stance, his views on copyright and shying from the spotlight, and the “aw shucks” Oklahoman personality he cultivated.

Cassuto outlines Guthrie’s life in reference to his works, which include over 3,000 poems and songs, at least 3 novels, dozens of essays, 1,000s of personal letters, and over 500 illustrations, paintings, and photographs. Cassuto bemoans the dirge of scholarly attention Guthrie has received in the past and cites Guthrie’s many artistic and intellectual achievements, making argument for Guthrie’s importance as an American artist and arbiter of social change aside from the popular view of him as a simple Dust Bowl balladeer.

On the bright side, Guthrie’s 100th birthday has culminated in the biggest Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in his Oklahoma hometown ever, a well documented box set by Smithsonian Folkways entitled Woody at 100, and a Celebration Concert at the Kennedy Center with heavy hitting performers like Tom Morello, Lucinda Williams, and Jackson Browne on October 14th.


Graham Todd is an intern at The Rumpus. He spends his mornings writing post-apocalyptic, vaguely biblical sci-fi horror comedy, his evenings tutoring the wide-eyed youth of the Palo Alto area, and his Thursdays at The Rumpus office, effectively “off the streets”. Beyond this weekly ritual, he enjoys karaoke, the movies, and jogging. More from this author →