In August 1949, Foote, Cone & Belding, on behalf of its client, Marshall Field & Company, purchased twelve full-page, inside-cover advertisements in Poetry at ninety dollars apiece. The contract brought together three Chicago institutions. Housed in the Palmolive Building (later home to Playboy), Foote, Cone & Belding held the accounts for such prominent brands as Kleenex and Levi’s. Marshall Field’s had been the city’s premier department store since the Great Fire of 1871. For Poetry, the sales promotion office of Marshall Field’s produced an especially tailored series of advertisements. Beginning in November 1949, readers encountered products proclaimed to inspire sonnets, epics, madrigals, and so forth. “Inspiration for a Ballad” is the second-to-last of these advertisements to appear in print. Foote, Cone & Belding abruptly terminated the contract, with five ads remaining, that month. By April 1950, Poetry was already engaged in the postwar sale of literature as an experience. The issue also contains a quarter-page ad for Kenyon College’s School of English, a precursor to contemporary summer seminars and workshops. Among the lecturers whom paying students were promised to encounter at Kenyon is Delmore Schwartz, the issue’s featured poet.
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This prose originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine