Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free-form poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of a fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters’ home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four accounts of their lives and losses.
Spoon River Anthology in its entirety is included in this document. Each page is designed to print out the monologues without having them cross over onto another page.
Here is one way to use the poems in Spoon River Anthology:
Print out and cut apart all or part of the monologues and put the female characters in one hat and the male characters in another. Invite students to go up one at a time and deliver their monologue.
Example of a Spoon River Anthology poem:
Have you seen walking through the village
A Man with downcast eyes and haggard face?
That is my husband who, by secret cruelty
Never to be told, robbed me of my youth and my beauty;
Till at last, wrinkled and with yellow teeth,
And with broken pride and shameful humility,
I sank into the grave.
But what think you gnaws at my husband’s heart?
The face of what I was, the face of what he made me!
These are driving him to the place where I lie.
In death, therefore, I am avenged.