The University of Pennsylvania Libraries, in conjunction with partner organizations across the Philadelphia/Camden region as well as Penn groups and programs, will organize a series of cultural events and artistic commissions in 2019, to highlight the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth, which will take place on Friday, May 31, 2019. While events will take place all year, there will be a focus on the two-week period, between May 24 and June 9, 2019, around Whitman's birthday.
Walt Whitman (1819–1892) is a colossal figure in American literature and art. Recognized internationally as the first major exponent of free verse, he has been called America's "poet of democracy." This anniversary provides an important opportunity to reassess his estimable contributions to American life at a time when our country is so polarized. Whitman lived through and reflected on a period of uncertainty and change in American politics, culture, and society that in many ways mirrors our own.
Whitman spent the last two decades of his life in Camden, New Jersey, and frequently traveled by ferry to enjoy Philadelphia's cultural life. Despite the longest suspension bridge spanning the Delaware River being named for Whitman, many residents are unaware of the poet's connection to the region. This project will situate Whitman in Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, and connect him to the life and art of the city, exploring what Philadelphia and Camden were then and are now.
Among the partner organizations initiating events for Whitman at 200 are:
Lynne Farrington, Senior Curator, Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Project Director, Whitman at 200
215 746 5828
Judith Tannenbaum, Contemporary Art Curator
Artistic Director, Whitman at 200