LIWP Writing Marathon at Walt Whitman Birthplace, May 13, 2017
*Written in the home where Walt Whitman was born
By Elizabeth Fonseca
I was here before for a poetry seminar given by Paul Muldoon and Kim Addonizio. We sat crowded in the simple room across the hall—the other fireplace in this historic home—and talked about poetry. It was so fitting in this environment—so close and intimate with the lowish ceilings—and so like poetry: the uneven floorboards and ceilings; the beautiful blue paint of moldings and door jambs meeting the scuffed-up wood of the floor; the burned-black back of the fireplace with its sooty bricks. Once again, how fitting, this time to write in the house of this writer, this giant of American letters, to write in this old house, a little dim, on a chilly, blustery May day.
What was Walt Whitman’s everyday weather? Was Walt the man as big and blustery as the poet’s persona? Or, like many poets, did he have a secret shy self? Was he reserved? Was his poet’s voice so sure, so resounding, so all-encompassing, the self he could allow out only in his poetry—yet if you met him…Was he quiet? Was he bookish? Did he need his time alone?
I celebrate myself, and sing myself from this old wooden house, from this too-cool, rainy day in May.
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Long Island Writing Project