Karl Grossman endorses Walt Whitman holiday

from Suffolk Closeup: Remembering Whitman by Karl Grossman

LIer Darryl Ford as Whitman reading at Canio's Leave of Grass marathon 052116

LIer Darrel Ford as Whitman reading at Canio’s Leave of Grass marathon 052116

Suffolk County Green Party activists Ian and Kimberly Wilder, lovers of poetry and nature, residents of Riverhead, have proposed making his birthday a national holiday.

Said Ms. Wilder, a teacher, in an essay that is online (ontheWilderside.com):

“Walt Whitman was born close to me in West Hills…For me Whitman has become a touchstone for something more than beautiful poetry. I first discovered Walt Whitman for myself when he was quoted in a sermon in an interfaith church in Virginia. Then a bookstore colleague of mine read with me from ‘Leaves of Grass,’ and I was awakened to this powerful voice of self, universe, and nature, combined. Since then, I have come to realize Whitman’s amazing gifts as a poet, as political figure, as reshaper of language, as loving brother, and as a complicated and beautiful a person who ever lived.”

“Whitman’s sense of self and poetry are effused with a love and connection to nature,” Kimberly went on. And, she emphasized: “Whitman credited this constant backdrop of Long Island’s pulsing waters for the subtle rhythm in the new poetic language he invented. And as a good transcendentalist, he had a genuine passion for the sea, the sun, and the earth over material goods.”

On a Walt Whitman birthday celebration, she said, “every person and business (especially those on Long Island) should observe 15 minutes of silence. We could stop mowing our lawns, stop driving our cars, click off our cellphones, turn off all buzzes and drones of machinery, and just listen to the silence that enfolds us again in the embrace of nature.”  

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Karl Grossman is an award-winning investigative reporter and a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury.

Photo is taken by Ian Wilder and is of Darrel Ford.

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