Upcoming Events

Walt Whitman’s 205th Birthday Celebration will be held on Wednesday, May 29, at 5pm in the garden of the Walt Whitman House at 328 Mickle/Martin Luther King Blvd. in Camden. This year we will be joined by guest speaker Edward Whitley, professor and professor and chair of the English Department at Lehigh University. Whitley teaches American literature and digital humanities, and is currently working on a book titled Whitman’s Poe: A Study of Literary Networks in Bohemian New York. Whitley’s website describes the title as “a book about the writers and artists in antebellum New York who embraced the posthumous legacy of Edgar Allan Poe and championed the floundering career of Walt Whitman.” We are very excited to hear him speak on the connections between Whitman and Poe. 

The theme for this year’s poetry contest is “Breaking Barriers,” an apt theme for a poet whose unconventional free-verse style broke away from the traditional poetic structure and helped to develop a distinctively American poetic voice. 

This year we invite students to reflect on Whitman’s poems such as Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, Song of Myself, and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry to create an original poem. Students may also consider any of the following questions that might inspire their own poems exploring ideas of BREAKING BARRIERS — literally or figuratively: What are lines you have crossed or imagine crossing? Are there barriers or boundaries that shouldn’t or can’t be broken? What kinds of hurdles inspire you to leap over them? Have you witnessed others making cracks in obstacles that stand in their way? Any style of poetry is welcome—in form or free verse. We only request that it strive to interpret this theme with thoughtful originality and well-crafted language.   

*If there are any questions about the celebration, please call the Walt Whitman House at (856) 964-5383.