Nelson Algren on Frank Lloyd Wright

This is Algren reading his poem “On the Heart It Don’t Matter How You Spell It.”

It’s from a 1972 recording.

Frank Lloyd Wright was the saint of American architecture.
He liked steel buildings, stone buildings, tall buildings, low buildings.
He liked new buildings and old buildings.
He like dry buildings and damp buildings.
He liked buildings on mountaintops.
He liked buildings on deserts.
He liked buildings broken by suffering
And buildings that were happy from morning till night.
He even liked buildings built on top of other buildings.
Frank Lloyd Wright sure liked buildings.

What Frank Lloyd Wright thought made a city enduring was the height and the heft and the light and the depth of its buildings. He took it for granted that on the day his dream of a building a mile high could be linked with a triple-deck expressway making righthand turns without a stoplight into infinity his name would be remembered forever. What Mr. Wright forgot was that a village ragged tents pitched on the open prairie may be a city more enduring than a million-windowed metropolis rising a mile high on foundations a mile deep in which nobody knows who he is.

Mr. Wright overlooked one small detail:
That a name carved on a cornerstone may be less enduring
Than a secret remembrance inscribed on the heart.
Mr. Wright forgot that on the heart it don’t matter how you spell it.

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  1. says

    mr. algren made chicago “his trade” and his poem proof that the city was built on the working mans back.
    for more on this:
    and there will be a documentary released soon…. denis mueller and mark blottner are working on it now.
    warren leming
    vice chair the nelson algren committee