The Old Gray Poet’s Bicentennial Birthday

I CELEBRATE myself
And what I assume you shall assume
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you
I loafe and invite my soul
I lean and loafe at my ease….observing a spear of summer grass.

Leaves of Grass

Today we CELEBRATE Walt Whitman. On this day 200 years ago, Walt Whitman, considered to be one of the most influential American poets, was born. He was born in Long Island, New York and his work took him to various places, but Whitman chose to spend that last two decades of his life in Camden, New Jersey, until his death on March 26, 1892.

Although he is notably one of the greatest poets of the 19th century, Whitman had many other vocations throughout his life. His storied career began as office help for a team of attorneys and he subsequently taught for a few years in Long Island. Whitman later went on to dedicate a great deal of his life to the newspaper industry. His multifaceted career saw him wearing many hats which included compositor (see The Fearless Compositor), reporter, editor, to publisher. (see Walt Whitman on the issues)

We here in the NJDNP office would like to share an interview between a correspondent of the New York Mail and Express with a soon-to-be 69-year-old Whitman that was published in the May 19, 1887 issue of the Bridgeton Pioneer, a title that was digitized through this project.

First part of article with an interview with Walt Whitman.
Second part of article with an interview with Walt Whitman.
Third part of article with an interview with Walt Whitman

If you are in the New Brunswick, N.J. area, be sure to visit Rutgers’ Alexander Library to see the exhibit, “Poet of the Future: An Exhibition to Mark the Bicentennial of the Birth of Walt Whitman” in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery!

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(Contributed by Giovanna Ligato-Pugliese and Jacob Paul)

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