Poetry Atlanta is hosting a marathon reading of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself this Saturday night, and I’m going to be one of the readers, thanks to poet Rupert Fike, who organized us. The reading will take place at composition gallery, which I’ve never visited. I’m looking forward to a double dose of art – poetry and photography. Collin Kelley and Karen Head will be reading, and many other well-known Atlanta poets, a real treat for me, and an honor too, since I’m a poetry scrub.
Of course I take my assignment seriously, and have been reading Song of Myself aloud, trying to let the whole of it soak into my skin. There are 52 sections. I will be reading sections 35 and 36, a kind of story within a story, as the speaker relates a naval battle in the voice of his great grandfather.
What strikes me about Walt Whitman is how enlightened his words are, and how ahead of his times he was, or maybe I shoud say out of time. He had a view that physicists are only now beginning to understand, of the interrelatedness of the universe. Song of Myself, in the very singing of it, is a song to all creation. It’s an attempt to sing the world, and it comes pretty darn close.
Whitman’s language is at once familiar and curious to me. I’ve made a wordle of the words that struck my fancy last night.