Walt Whitman, Which Way Does Your Beard Point Tonight?


Whitman’s epic remains revered for its fluid voice and wide perspective, capturing a quintessentially American character through exaltation of the (particularly male) body and the material world. In Leaves of Grass, Whitman, applying the American religion of self-reliance, sought himself within himself in the struggle to know his own soul. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the work’s first edition, Fort Greene Park, for which Whitman rallied popular support as Brooklyn Daily Eagle editor, hosts a day-long celebration of poets and poetry. The Richard Wright Project and New York Writers Coalition lead writing workshops; the Walt Whitman Project presents poetry and prose; American Opera Projects and the Roving Brass Quartet offer some music; the Brooklyn Public Library conducts a library card drive; Cirque Boom Circus Theater rehearses a performance based on the lives of Whitman and P.T. Barnum; and Whitman impersonator Darrel Blaine Ford makes the rounds before Danny Simmons emcees an open mic and walking tours commence. Local businesses belonging to Myrtle Merchants and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership provide more poetry, food, and film in the evening portion of this celebration of selves and the proclaimed poet of democracy who aimed to “faithfully express . . . uncompromisingly, [his] own physical, emotional, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic Personality, in the midst of . . . current America.”