Dinner with Walt

all things Walt Whitman

Dinner with Walt - all things Walt Whitman

The Democracy of Oaks, A Play by Adrian Drew

Gary Richardson as Walt Whitman; Andrew Squires as Edward Carpenter

Gary Richardson as Walt Whitman; Andrew Squires as Edward Carpenter. Photo by Adrian Drew.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write, busy times indeed, but if you caught the previous post on this site about the Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter play, The Democracy of Oaks, by Adrian Drew, I have a few lively and delightful things to share about it.

I was quite fortunate enough to be able to make the trek-over to London to see the play, and W-O-W! It is brilliant, fantastic and a truly authentic work based upon the lives of these two extraordinary men. Drew’s play is a magnificent piece of wit and wisdom and I hope to see it someday in a full-scale stage production. I’m certain even those in an audience unfamiliar with Whitman and Carpenter would find the experience enjoyable, engaging and highly rewarding!

About a year and half ago, Adrian contacted me from the website shortly after he had written the play and asked if I would like to read it. I have had the very fortunate pleasure to be in contact with Adrian Drew since then and it has been extremely rewarding for me to follow his progress with this play, but to be able to see it in person and afterwards meet the cast, was a truly magnificent experience.

I recall thinking to myself after initially reading the play, how might an actor be able to convincingly portray either of these two dynamic men? I am delighted to share that Mr. Andrew Squires is a brilliant actor who offered a stunning and mesmerizing portrayal of Edward Carpenter. Bravo Andrew for such a captivating and inspiring portrayal of this remarkable and influential man!

As for the part of the American bard, due to accepting a part in an upcoming film, Nigel Barber was not able to play the part of Whitman. Fear not dear fans, Adrian Drew was able to secure another great actor, Gary Richardson to play the part of Whitman. Richardson delivered a fantastic portrayal of Whitman, having had only a couple weeks prior to the performance to rehearse the deep and dynamic role.

I have to say, I was rather caught by surprise of the feeling of the play, both actors delivered an intensely emotional performance and to—see it and feel it—as it came to life off the written page was extraordinary!

Many thanks to Adrian Drew for allowing me to follow this production from its early days on paper to the big debut—it was an experience I will always treasure!

Andrew Squires, Scott, Adrian Drew

Andrew Squires, Scott, Adrian Drew

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The Democracy of Oaks, A Play by Adrian Drew

I am thrilled to announce the exciting new project by playwright Adrian Drew, The Democracy of Oaks. The play highlights the extraordinary lives of two of my favorite men, Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter.

Edward Carpenter, Andrew Squires

Edward Carpenter, Andrew Squires

Walt Whitman, Nigel Barber

Walt Whitman, Nigel Barber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Democracy of Oaks

A gala showcase production of a new play
by Adrian Drew.

‘Be curious – not judgmental!” – Walt Whitman.

Theatrically compelling. Professor M. Wynn Thomas. Author – The Lunar Light of Whitman’s Poetry.
Fascinating Stuff. A clever piece for two great actors!” Rony Robinson – Writer & Presenter.
A beautifully written moving insight into the lives of two remarkable men.” Dolores Long – Educationalist.

In 1877 young Edward Carpenter from Britain, visited his idol, the legendary poet Walt Whitman at his home in Camden, New Jersey. The outcome was far-reaching indeed for both men – and history too.

Adrian Drew’s memorable theatrical tour de force – showcased tonight for the first time – has recently been published to acclaim. It deals with two fascinating individuals and the complexities of Art and Life, revealing, on route, facts about such contemporaries as Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, that may surprise many!

The play stars Andrew Squires, (whose work ranges from TV’s Emmerdale to the lead in the feature film The Heretic) as the complex Carpenter, and well-known American actor Nigel Barber (whose many performances on stage & screen from Baywatch and Magnum PI to the new feature film Firequake, have received widespread recognition) as the great Whitman himself.

The Democracy of Oaks is directed by its author Adrian Drew who has written over 20 plays that have been staged on the London fringe and whose festival production of Cocteau’s The Human Voice, and his plays Where Poppies Bloom (about the impact of The Great War on a small Norfolk village), Ellen (about the actress Ellen Terry), The Laws of Shadows ( about ghost story writer M.R. James), and his musical Torch Song, will all be produced over the coming months.

Admission to the Fan Museum for this gala event is £12 and includes wine and light refreshments. This semi-staged rehearsed reading should last approximately 2½ hours including intermission and is only suitable for people over the age of 18.

Friday October 10th 2014
7.30 pm 

 The Fan Museum

12 Crooms Hill. Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER

Theatrical productions at the Museum sell out well in advance so early booking is absolutely essential.

For more information and to make bookings, please call The Fan Museum on 020 8305 1441
or email info@fanmuseum.org.uk

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NPR Arcticle on Whitman and “Leaves of Grass,” July 4, 2014

Etch of Walt Whitman, copper printing plate. Circa 1890. Dinner withWalt collection.

Etching of Walt Whitman on copper printing plate. Circa 1890.  In the Dinner with Walt collection.

Although Whitman was selling copies of Leaves of Grass earlier, he being the  ‘poet of democracy’, officially released the very first edition of Leaves of Grass on July 4, 1855.

To celebrate this far-reaching momentous big bang in American literature, NPR published a vibrant article by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, On July 4, A Celebration of Walt Whitman’s Irreverent Hymnal.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the granddaddy of American poetry; the gray ghost; the big thumper; the barbarian’s text with its barbaric yawp; the nation’s first truly great mega biblion; the Kosmos; the Civil War witness; the seaside songbook; the irreverent hymnal; the book of the lover; the book of the loafer; the peacemaker; Leaves of Grass.

 

I highly encourage you to read the rest of the dazzling  article here.

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1855 Leaves of Grass!

I had an opportunity to visit the Library Company of Philadelphia in May. Among their many wonderful first-rate collections they own two copies of Whitman’s first edition of Leaves of Grass from 1855! This was my very first up close and personal view of this very special work of art!

1855 Leaves of Grass. Library Company of Philadelphia. May, 2014

1855 Leaves of Grass. Library Company of Philadelphia. May, 2014

But wait! If this isn’t awesome enough, it gets better! Just last week Christie’s sold an original 1855 Leaves of Grass. The pre-sale estimate was $100-150,000.  You might be surprised to learn what the record-setting final sale price was for this Holiest-of-Holy piece of art!?!

From the June 19, 2014 press release:

He may not be topping the best-seller list, but the great American poet and humanist Walt Whitman set a sales record Wednesday at Christie’s.

A first edition of “Leaves of Grass,” printed for the author, sold for $305,000. That was more than twice Christie’s estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, and it marked a world auction record for Whitman.

 

You can read the entire article about the Christie’s sale here.

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Edward Carpenter, Farewell Message

While conducting research on Edward Carpenter, I stumbled upon a beautiful piece, Farewell Message left by Edward Carpenter to be Read over his Grave, written by Carpenter in 1910.

Carpenter had left a request for this to be read at his grave after his death, but unfortunately Carpenter’s wish was not fulfilled. This was not discovered until sometime after his death in 1929.

Carpenter’s Farewell Message is amazingly beautiful prose from an illuminated soul…

 

Farewell Message left by Edward Carpenter to be Read over his Grave

I SHOULD like these few words to be read over the grave when my body is placed in the earth, for though it is possible I may be present and conscious of what is going on, I shall not be able to communicate.

Too much, perhaps, is made of Death by us little mortals; and I think sometimes that we grieve too hardly over those that are gone. Of course, the parting from the daily sight and touch of dear friends is hard, very hard–but I doubt if after all this parting is so complete as we sometimes think. Who is there who has not felt the presence of one who has departed–as presence remaining still near him for weeks, months, and even years, and touch him so nearly that almost the voice could be heard and the form seen? Who is there who has not been conscious of strange intimations thus coming to him as from another world? Does it not seem, after all, that the friend is there, only speaking to our hearts more deeply, more intimately, more tenderly than in the ordinary life?

Nor need we be afraid of death, either for ourselves or for our friends, as if it were an evil or a harmful thing, lying ever in wait for us. On the contrary, it is surely a perfectly natural event, and part of the wholesome order of the world, as we see every day of our lives. Birth does not seem to us an evil thing, but rather a strange and wonderful passage from some other state of being into this present existence; and so death–which in many ways is the counterpart of birth–would seem to be just such a wonderful passage out of this world again; one perhaps out of many, many such passages which the far-journeying soul of man must make, under the wing of the ever-biding Presence.

Nor would one perhaps–even in the chance were offered–wish to escape dying. That would hardly be desirable. For since everyone has to die–and such countless millions have made that passage into the unknown–there would seem to be something mean and unfriendly in trying to avoid the common lot. Better to share it frankly with others, whatever it may be. Probably indeed the escaping of this change would turn out in the end to be considerable loss instead of a great gain. Fancy anyone being condemned to live, now, for ever–and to wear out all his old clothes, and his old body, and all his old ambitions and passions, and to go on repeating the same old jokes and stories till even his old friends were worn out as well! What a Fate! But from such an end kindly Death does indeed deliver us.

And whatever the region to which we pass, Love saves us there, as it does here. It creates a world in which the soul can live and expand in freedom. The ties which bind us together here are not going to be snapt so easily as some of you may think. For indeed, I believe that those who truly love are already joined together in a world far beyond and behind the visible;–and in that world, they are safe–and their love is safe–from the storms of time and misadventure.

Therefore do think too much of the dead husk of your friend, or mourn too much over it; but send your thoughts out towards the real soul or self which as escaped–to reach it. For so, surely, you will cast a light of gladness upon his onward journey, and contribute your part towards the building of that kingdom of love which links our earth to heaven.
E.C.
December 30, 1910

 

 

Credit:

Beith, Gilbert. (1931). Edward Carpenter: In Appreciation. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

 Click here for more posts on Edward Carpenter.

 

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Whitman’s 195th Birthday!

Put those party hats on and let the celebration begin!

Today, May 31st, 2014 marks Whitman’s 195th birthday!

053013_1202_May31stHapp1.jpg

 

Poets To Come

Poets to come! Orators, singers, musicians to come!

Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,

But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,

Arouse! For just must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative word for the future,

I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,

Leaving it to you to prove and define it,

Expecting the main things from you.

 

Links to previous birthday announcements:

May 31, 2012

May 31, 2013

 

 

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11th Annual Song of Myself Marathon!

The 11th Annual Song of Myself Marathon will be held in Brooklyn, NY on Sunday, June 8th!

11th Annual Song of Myself Marathon

“Dear friends,

I’m delighted to announce the eleventh anniversary of our annual reading of
Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”!

This year’s marathon will be held on Sunday, June 8 at the Granite Prospect
at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1.  We’ll be led off by thunder-voiced poet
Martin Espada, who can evoke Whitman like none other.  If you were with us
last year, you’ll remember our spectacular view of Manhattan, the Brooklyn
Bridge, and New York Harbor from this spot.  We’re open to the elements and
we (and Walt) like it that way– so please bring your umbrella if it rains.
The event is of course free and will begin at 4 pm; readers, please arrive
no later than 3:30.

If you’d like to read, please email songofmyselfmarathon@gmail.com with
your favorite three sections of “Song of Myself” (using the 1891-’92
edition’s breakdown of 52 sections).  I’ll be in touch with you as the
event draws closer, to provide the final list of readers.  Original
interpretations of your chosen passage are encouraged!  Last year we had
several folks read in different languages; we also had our youngest reader
yet (go forth 9 year old Emmanuel!), Jesse strumming his interpretation of
#4 on guitar, Connor reciting #s16 and 17 from memory, and not one but TWO
Walt Whitmans.  Please do have fun out there!  You know Walt would love
that.

For more information on the site of the reading (and some great photos of
last year’s event), please visit:

http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/walt-whitmans-song-of-myself<http:=
//www.brooklynbridgepartknyc.org/>

Smorgasburg, the fabulous weekly food market, will be held that Sunday
beginning at 11am at the Pier 5 Uplands; it’s a great place to pick up a
snack before, after, or even during the event:

http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/smorgasburg

Hope you can make it!  Please spread the word to fellow poetry lovers.

Warm Whitmanic wishes always,

Karen Karbiener”

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Whitman in the Redwoods!

Just returned from a trip to the redwood forests in California, those amazing forests are such a spiritually-magnificent place!

Of course I took along my Leaves of Grass, I always take Whitman’s advice, he said in the preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass…

…read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life…

I want to share one my favorite images from this trip, reading in the redwoods. Look at how the light radiates off Leaves of Grass, Whitman was definitely with me in those redwoods!

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