The Salon crowd likes a party! And what better reason than to celebrate two of our favourite writers: Walt Whitman and Herman Melville who were born 200 years ago this year. These Salon social occasions are an opportunity for the lively minds of the Salon studies to join together– offering readings, music, performances, good vibes or rapt attention. If you would like to join, please choose a passage or poem to share or song to sing that celebrates your connection to either of these great writers– or just join in the celebration!
- October 31st Kentish Town 7:30-9:30 PM
- Contributions of prose, poetry and song most welcome
- RSVP via Contact Us
Walt Whitman was a poet of mid-19th century United States whose exuberance at the miracle of living and the multitude of human beings infuses his verses. Reading aloud selections from his great work, “Song of Myself” is pure joy. You will want to join in sounding his ‘barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world’.
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Whitman lived in a moment when the United States seemed bent upon bloodily tearing itself apart. Even as a battlefield nurse in the savageries of the Civil War, Whitman found much to celebrate about the human spirit– I turn to him when I need to be reminded of humanity’s shine. Peter Schjeldahl captures Whitman’s vision:
“Those harrowing years amplified Whitman’s already Romantic conceptions of death. If Keats was “half in love with easeful death,” Whitman was head over heels for it, as a subject fit for his titanic drive to coax positive value from absolutely anything. (“What indeed is beautiful, except Death and Love,” he wrote. Note that death has pride of place.) Meanwhile, he piloted his soul in genial company with all other souls, afoot like him on ideal democracy’s Open Road, exulting in human variety. If he failed any definitive American experience, it was aloneness. That lack was made good by his younger contemporary Emily Dickinson: the soul in whispered communication with itself. Both poets dealt with the historical novelty of a nation of splintered individuals who must speak—not only for themselves but to be reassured of having selves at all. There have been no fundamental advances in the spiritual character—such as it is, touch and go—of our common tongue since Whitman and Dickinson. It’s a matter of the oneness of what they say with how they sound saying it. Admittedly, Whitman can be gassy and Dickinson obscure, but they mined truth, and mining entails quantities of slag. They derived messages from and for the mess of us.” — New Yorker June 2019 How to Celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday