Column: Indiana’s first nationally popular poet largely forgotten by Hoosiers

James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton deserves that honor.

Even today her poem “Paddle Your Own Canoe” is cited and recited, though few know anything about its origins.

Her poetry “was known everywhere,” and the canoe poem was set to music and translated into a dozen foreign languages, according to historian Jeanette C. Nolan in the book “Hoosier City.” Indiana Historical Society records note that Bolton served as poet laureate of Indiana during the 1840s and 1850s.

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