Carl Sandburg and Manifestos

We've written before about manifestos. A well-written one can be a powerful opening to a meeting. Couple it with the right art direction, and a great manifesto can sell a campaign, even if it never appears as a print ad or in the voiceover.

As a writer, you need to know how to write a great manifesto. As an art director, you need to be able to imbue those words with meaning, making them even more relevant. They may not be ads, but they can help you make and sell better ones.

Here's a poem I recently found by Carl Sandburg. I think this would make a great manifesto. Maybe for Corvette. Or Gulfstream. Or FedEx. (Any other ideas?) It's about the right length. What really works for me are the cadence and the imagery. Read it out loud. Poetry, like manifestos, is meant to be heard.

The silent litany of the workmen goes on –
Speed, speed, we are the makers of speed.
We make the flying, crying motors,
Clutches, brakes, and axles,
Gears, ignitions, accelerators,
Spokes and springs and shock absorbers.
The silent litany of the workmen goes on –
Speed, speed, we are the makers of speed;
Axles, clutches, levers, shovels,
We make signals and lay the way –
Speed, speed.

The trees come down to our tools,
We carve the wood to the wanted shape.
The whining propeller's song in the sky,
The steady drone of the overland truck,
Comes from our hands; us; the makers of speed.

Speed; the turbines crossing the Big Pond,
Every nut and bolt, every bar and screw,
Every fitted and whirring shaft,
They came from us, the makers,
Us, who know how,
Us, the high designers and the automatic feeders,
Us, with heads,
Us, with hands,
Us on the long haul, the short flight,
We are the makers; lay the blame on us –
The makers of speed.

(I'm not expecting any takers on this, but if any of you art directors want to art direct Sandburg's poem and submit it, we'll post it, tweet it, link to your portfolio and sing your praises.)