June 2019


It’s hard to believe it’s merely coincidence that Pride Month immediately follows Walt’s birthday. (In fact, Pride’s month commemorates the “Stonewall riots” of June 1969, when gay men fought back against ongoing police harrassment and raids at the Stonewall Inn, NYC.) Walt did not present himself as a gay man in his life, and it’s very hard today to understand 19th-century boundaries for same-sex love, but much of Walt’s writing celebrates masculine love and companionship, and his romance with “his rebel friend,” Pete Doyle, was profoundly important for both men. Martin G. Murray’s short biography of Pete includes a picture of the two men with the comment: “Whitman once asked Thomas Harned [who would be one of his literary executors] what the poet’s look suggested. Harned offered, ‘Fondness, and Doyle should be a girl.’” Reading Pete’s and Walt’s memories of each other is deeply moving.

Nina Murray’s essay “Walt Whitman in Russia,” published at The Public Domain Review, gives fascinating insight on evolving interpretations and use of Walt’s poetry in Russia. The article includes artwork by Vera Ermolaeva, who was what I’d call an early ‘zine publisher.

North American Review’s Every Atom project began on Walt’s birthday. For 200 days, Every Atom will feature a post by an artist, scholar, or writer on “Song of Myself.” Here’s a list of the posts so far.

For news on events celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th, visit Whitman at 200, a Penn Libraries project, or Walt Whitman Initiative. If you’re a twitter-er, track #Whitmanat200 #Whitman200

Circling Rivers celebrates Walt’s 200th with signed copies of With Walt Whitman, Himself (paper) for $30 with free shipping to US addresses. Get it here. Reviewer Richard Derus calls the book “extraordinarily lovely” and says: “After reading WITH WALT WHITMAN, HIMSELF, I was soul-satisfied that I had found my spiritual ancestor. No poet I, nor truth to tell much of a poetry consumer; but Walt Whitman, comme d’habitude, pursued me down the street to talk to me.” Full review here


We just added an “EVENTS” page to the Circling Rivers website. Grab your calendar and check it out!

Coming up:
June 18, 8 pm | Arlington, VA | Nina Murray and others reading at Josephine’s Italian Kitchen, 2501 Columbia Pike, Arlington VA. Info
August 9, 10, 11 | Huntington Station, Long Island | Jean Huets at the Walt Whitman International Conference. info
October 10, 2:15 pm | Fairfax, VA | Jean Huets at Fall for the Book festival, based at George Mason University. info