Walt Whitman

Venue: Online – £10/$12 for this online talk

The link giving you access to this lecture will be sent out after your booking has been received. You will have the choice of a YouTube video or a downloadable audio podcast.

World Poets - Walt Whitman

Readers – and listeners - love Walt Whitman for his extraordinary musical gifts as a poet and for his invigorating wisdom which sheds light on our lives left, right and centre as though he had been passing our house and stopped to talk to us through the window. His great poem ‘When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom’ has one of the most memorable titles in all poetry, and it helps to remind us how early Whitman was. Born in 1819, he wrote this deeply moving work in a double aftermath: within days of both President Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 and the end of the American Civil War. The poem appeared in the 1865 edition of Whitman’s masterpiece collection, Leaves of Grass. With that book, Whitman had revolutionised what American poetry could say (poets could sing about what they felt it was like to be alive as never before), how it could look on the page (long-limbed, rhapsodic and free), and how it could sound in the reading ear - orchestral, psalmic and incantatory. Many poets since, on both sides of the Atlantic, and several composers too, Vaughan Williams and Delius first among them, have found new solace for the spirit in this great voice. What better figurehead than Whitman, who loved men and women, but most deeply men, can we find in the poetry of the past to keep us company now as our fought-for freedoms mean men do and will love men, women love women, and gender is at last an open garden to wander in just as we like, fearless?

“Graham’s enthusiastic and scholarly approach to the background and his eloquent reading of poems – especially ‘Out of the Cradle’ and ‘When Lilacs’ – made me look again at Walt Whitman. I’ve re-read ‘Out of the Cradle’ to appreciate more deeply now both what it has to say and how vividly Graham had read it”.
Robin Brumby, after Whitman Night in Taunton
“Bravo! Well done! A wonderful re-introduction to the life and art of Whitman, especially suggestive as to some contemporary influences on the development of his style. Your lecture reminded me repeatedly what a copious genius Whitman is/was ,- and has sent me straight off to try to write again (after feeling increasingly stale as this Covid thing has gone on.) And all beautifully written and delivered too.. Thank you!” And, twenty-four hours later:
“Whitman really has cleared away some kind of blockage in my own mind . . ."
Keith Chandler, Bridgnorth, Shropshire
Online version
"Wonderful. Whitman came through without any discernible mediation. Graham's commentary most enlightening too. Especially Walt in the chair and Oscar on the stool. I’m fantasizing Edith Wharton in her Victorian frock looking on. Thanks very much".
Charles Porter, San Luis Obispo
Online version
“Whitman, the great poet, has meant so much to me. Whitman, the one man breaking a way ahead. Whitman, the one pioneer. And only Whitman”.
D H Lawrence
from ‘Whitman’, in his Studies in Classic American Literature (1923).

To access recordings of all ten lectures in the 2020 online series, click on SCHEDULED EVENTS below

Top picture: Walt Whitman in April 1887, by the American painter and photographer Thomas Eakins. Image courtesy of the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Lower picture: Unknown photographer, Walt Whitman, 1871. The Granger Collection, NYC

Tickets £10/$12

for this online talk
The recording is available from 25 June 2020

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