Walt Whitman and Burst!

On Saturday evening my husband and I went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown, drank a few beers and ate crispy tofu (that was me, he had calamari), and then went on to a reading of Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. I’m so grateful my husband came along with me, because he rarely attends poetry-related events. He had a good time, in spite of missing the basketball playoffs.

Poet and novelist Collin Kelley, the third reader of the evening, timed us – it took two hours and 45 minutes to read the entire 52 sections. And honestly, I didn’t notice time passing at all. It was breathtaking to listen to all the different interpretations of Whitman’s words. We were a wide sweep of humanity, reflecting the broad scope of the poem. Some of the readers were professional actors or spoken-word performers, such as Alice Lovelace and Theresa Davis. Professor and poet Karen Head was there, poet and artist Cleo Creech, Amy Pence, Tania Rochelle, and many others. It was quite an honor and a true pleasure to be included.

Poet Rupert Fike was the organizer and host of the reading, a charming prince of a man. He wore a black beret and a black shirt trimmed with a rust-colored Native American pattern, looking very much the poet that he is. The walls were lined with the stunning black and white photos now featured at Composition Gallery. I’m going to return to the gallery another time when the room isn’t so full to get a better look at the works.


I’m standing in front, wearing cerise slacks. Karen Head is next to me, in a robin’s egg blue blouse. Cleo Creech is kneeling next to Alice Lovelace, who is wearing a green dress, Amy Pence is to Cleo’s left, and Collin is wearing a black T-shirt, standing behind Cleo. Rupert Fike is in the very back, his face hidden. You can just spot the tip of his beret. Robert Wood, whose poems have been in the first two issue of ouroboros and are forthcoming in the third, is in the back too. He has white hair and a white beard, looking like Whitman himself.


I just received word that three of my poems are now online at Burst! Here’s a direct link to the poems, which are titled Degrees of Separation, Dr. Marano’s Therapy, and Sacred Fig Rites. Thanks to editor Lisa Nickerson for publishing my work.

Here’s a list of the other poets who are included in this issue, issue 5:

David Garrett-Arnold, John Gray, BC Jewett, Michael Brownstein, Stuart Payne ,Joseph Trombatore, Rob Gannon, Jeremi Handrinos, David Robertson, Catherine Zickgraf, RC Miller.

14 thoughts on “Walt Whitman and Burst!

  1. Deb says:

    What a great event, and yes, very cool of your husband to come, esp. with playoffs! I’m not sure mine would have 😉

    Congratulations on the three poems, too. Splendid news and gorgeous poems.


  2. christine says:

    Deb, thanks for reading. I’m so lucky to have poetry pals who care about my good news. Didn’t your husband go with you to a poetry reading on the beach? A haiku reading?

    Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. You know what I mean about the hubby coming along, I can tell!


  3. Julie says:

    Go, Christine!! A big round of applause and congratulations! Your poems are excellent. Why, of course!! I’m so happy to see that you’re putting your beautiful words out there. Burst is beautiful, too. I was thrilled to see you in there. I’ll go back and read everyone else, too. But I had to come over here right now and say yay!

    The reading sounds great. It’s a very unique idea, too. I would love to hear it. Did anyone record parts of it? You’ve got a wonderful reading voice.


  4. carolee says:

    christine — the fig poem is especially striking. wow! so much congrats on this string of wonderful publishing news.

    and the even sounds amazing. we have one here, as well, but i missed it b/c of some parenting obligations. *sigh* maybe next year!


  5. Rupert says:

    wow, I missed meeting Hubby – your beaming face on the front row was a great comfort to me, Christine – and I’m quite impressed/taken w your work – mazel tovs all over yas!


  6. ybonesy says:

    Many kudos.

    My husband was out of town when I did a Nerdua bilingual “dramatic reading” (we did some performance combined with the readin) and I’m so glad he wasn’t there. He makes me giggle. He came with me to a funeral mass last week, and I swear I thought I was going to lose it a few times.


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