Poetry Mesa Presents “A Night with Walt Whitman”

Poetry Mesa Presents “A Night with Walt Whitman”

By Catherine Marenghi


Poetry Mesa, a global poetry community serving poets and poetry, will present “A Night with Walt Whitman,” a lively Zoom featuring poetry, film, and conversation. Special guests include acclaimed poet Mark Doty, author of “What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life,” and Whitman scholar Zachary Turpin, known for discovering Whitman’s previously lost texts.


The Zoom event will be presented by the San Miguel Literary Sala on September 30, 5-6pm. Pre-registration is required at sanmiguelliterarysala.org/product/sep-30-2021-poetry-mesa/.


Whitman (1819-1892), the groundbreaking American poet credited for launching modern poetry worldwide, is also a cultural and sexual icon. Writing openly on homoerotic relationships, he was a passionate defender of human rights, the abolition of slavery, and the dignity of the working class, women, immigrants, and the poor.


“This presentation focuses on Whitman as a profoundly physical and erotic man, showcasing his poetic and cultural legacy, his enduring role as a queer icon, and his astonishing masterpiece ‘Leaves of Grass,’” explained Catherine Marenghi, poet and co-founder of the Poetry Mesa. “We are thrilled to host two exciting devotees of Whitman—Doty and Turpin—as well as a video by Taylor Mac, a brilliant performer of Whitman’s poetry in drag, and other surprise guests.”


Mark Doty is recognized as one of the most accomplished poets in the United States. According to the Poetry Foundation, “His syntactically complex and aesthetically profound free verse poems…have been hailed as some of the most original and arresting poetry written today.” A winner of numerous grants, fellowships, and prestigious literary awards including the National Book Award, he has authored more than 10 volumes of poetry and three memoirs. He is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and lives in New York City. 


Zachary Turpin gained wide acclaim for discovering Whitman’s lost novella, “Life and Adventures of Jack Engle,” (1852) and his pseudonymous wellness manifesto, “Manly Health and Training” (1858). Turpin also pursues unaccounted-for periodical works by American women authors of the nineteenth century, including Emma Lazarus, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 2017, he became a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, where he continues searching for missing American literary texts. 


“We begin, and always and ever come back, to Walt Whitman, for what we now recognize as the ‘modern’ voice inside poems, for the huge celebration of self, as in ‘I am large…I contain multitudes,’” said poet and co-host Judyth Hill. We thank and celebrate Whitman for his contribution, almost dominance, of the DNA chain turning and twisting through our inherited poetic gene pool.”

Poetry Mesa, launched in 2021 under the auspices of San Miguel Literary Sala, showcases poets worldwide and offers readings, workshops, a calendar of international events, and other resources serving poets and poetry lovers. Visit www.poetrymesa.com.