In between doing the final edits for First Fallen, reviewing books, worrying about everything in general and nothing in particular, and petting cats, I have been noodling around with some ways of writing about American poet Walt Whitman. He is a problematic person. Some might find his gayness an issue; some may object to his Yankeeness or his part-time occupation as a wound dresser in Washington hospitals. However, he served both sides if there was a soldier on the operating table.
I will endeavor to share Whitman’s world with ECW readers. I will not only share his poetry, but there will also be some interesting and unusual interpretations of Whitman’s work which shed some light on the antebellum North, especially New York City. Although Whitman never served in the Union army, the American Civil War was the defining event of his life. He shared this with every soldier, every politician, every parent, sibling, and loved one who lived through the 1860s. There are reasons his verses are quoted so often in books about the Civil War. Readers may find some new favorites or remember to appreciate the old ones. If chapter quotes are the only familiarity a reader has with Whitman, prepare to be amazed. His words, his ideas, and his heart capture our nation during the Civil War in a way no one else ever has.
Once a week—that is my goal, anyway–a blog post will highlight some aspects of Whitman’s life. You will hear his voice. You will listen to other famous voices read his work. Pieces of artwork will be shared that complement the poetry. Music will enhance some of Whitman’s offerings. If you already love Walt Whitman, I hope this is pleasing. If you hate him, I hope it is enlightening. And if you are somewhere in between, or don’t know him—welcome to your weekly Walt Whitman.