Monday, February 23, 2009

"Song of Myself" Reading

This announcement from American University reminds me of the long-ago afternoon I spent reading this poem out loud to myself while sprawled in a hammock on a perfect summer day…one of the highlights of my literary life, and a highly recommended activitity:

Are you looking to extend the elation and hopefulness about President Obama's election a little longer? Join students and faculty of the AU Literature Department for a marathon reading of Walt Whitman's great poem, "Song of Myself."

The reading will begin at 5:30 on Friday, February 27 in the first floor Atrium of Battelle-Tompkins at American University.

Whitman began publishing his long poem in 1855, when the United States was splintering, divided over slavery and sorely lacking in political leadership. Once a political idealist, Whitman turned to poetry to "define America, her athletic Democracy."

Rethinking the very basis of democracy, Whitman insists on the strength of the individual, the affirmation of the sensual life of the body as well as the soul, the acceptance of others, and deep awareness of our part in nature.

Whitman's monumental poem is 52 sections long and is typically read only in selections. We will read the poem straight through with volunteers from the audience each reading a section. Whether you'd like to read a section of the poem or just listen, please plan to stop by. This is not a lecture or discussion and no advance preparation or knowledge of the poem is necessary.
If you'd like to read a particular section of the poem, please sign in on the electronic signup sheet at or contact
Everyone is welcome. Refreshments will be served.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.