- Guest wrote a poem a day seven days a week for thirty years.
- He lived in a mansion "staffed with servants, fine automobiles, the so-handy golf club [and] the big summer place at the Pointe."
- He had radio, motion picture, and television contracts.
- At one point, when his verse was syndicated to 250 newspapers, it was estimated that his poems had a circulation of about 10,000,000.
- At one point, probably after World War II, Guest reported an annual income of $128,000—the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $1.6 million.
- Guest's first two books (Home Rhymes and Just Glad Things) were self-published and printed by Guest's brother Harry in editions of 800 and 1,500 respectively, and on the basis of those books and his newspaper verse, Guest started getting wooed by the agents of Harper, Scribner, and William Randolph Hearst. Eventually, his publisher Reilly & Britton would print his books in editions of 100,000.
- Guest couldn't go out on the streets of Detroit without getting hailed down by enthusiastic readers.
- Guest was good friends with Henry Ford, who regularly gave the poet cars, beginning with a Model T and, many years later, a Lincoln.
- Guest was pegged as a possible replacement for Will Rogers and even set up in Hollywood for $3,500 per week while studios tried to figure out how to use him.
- A copy of Guest's poem "America" once sold for $50,000 as part of a war-bond fundraising event in 1942.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
The Surprise Guest: Thoughts on Edgar A. Guest, Making Money with Poetry, and the Blind Spots of Modern Poetry Studies
here, Chrysler's Edgar Guest television spot here, and a scrapbook full of Guest's poetry here—but the biography stunned us nevertheless. Yes, in telling the story of how Guest's "ascent to fame has kept absolute step with Detroit's march from provincial city to industrial capital of the world," Howes is possibly even more saccharine than the "people's poet" himself was, but the facts are simply astonishing. Consider, for example: