Dinner with Walt

all things Walt Whitman

Dinner with Walt - all things Walt Whitman

Happy 197th Birthday!

197 years old today!

Wow! Walt, you’re getting old! But fear not Old Poet, you’re not forgotten! Walt, you’re very much alive today!

In fact, just earlier this year a long-lost letter you wrote to the family of a Civil War soldier was discovered at the National Archives.

And just recently unveiled was another huge discovery, your 1858 news article series on “Manly Health and Training.”

Happy 197th Birthday Old Poet!
Walt Whitman

1878 Photo of Walt Whitman by Napoleon Sarony (Dinner with Walt Collection)

“We must not look back over the shoulders at the world: we should meet each day as it comes with the same assumption: we can make each new day the best of days if we get the habit.” With Walt Whitman in Camden, Vol. IV, p. 297.

Previous birthday posts:

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The Democracy of Oaks, A Play by Adrian Drew

Gary Richardson as Walt Whitman; Andrew Squires as Edward Carpenter

Gary Richards 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 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 Richards to play the part of Whitman. Richards 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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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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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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Song of Myself, Online Course offered

Just in from the Walt Whitman Archive!

Care to learn more about Whitman’s masterwork, Song of Myself…? Here’s your chance! There will be a free online course on this classic American epic from Feb. 17th through March 29th. Join me!

 

Massive Open Online Course on Whitman opens Feb. 17

Course is free and open to anyone with an Internet connection

By:  Ashley Davidson | 2014.01.10 | 11:18 AM


The University of Iowa’s first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, is open for enrollment. The six-week course, which runs Feb. 17 through March 29 and is organized by the UI International Writing Program (IWP), offers participants everywhere the opportunity to read, consider, and discuss Whitman’s epic poem through video lectures, live breakout sessions, and moderated online discussions.

The course is free and open to anyone with an Internet connection. To enroll, visit: courses.writinguniversity.org/info/every-atom.

Ed Folsom


Every Atom will be co-taught by Whitman scholar Ed Folsom and International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill. Folsom is the Roy J. Carver Professor of English at the University of Iowa, co-director of the Walt Whitman Archive, and editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. Merrill is the author of six collections of poetry and a member of the National Council on the Humanities. His work has been translated into 25 languages, and he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions to more than 40 countries for the U.S. Department of State.

 

You can get more info and register for the course here.

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