This famous photograph of Walt Whitman in Camden, New Jersey is held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection, and dates from around 1891 – now Nick St. George has brought the famous poet to life in sound using this photo as inspiration, as he explains:
“Walt Whitman was a fascinating character. Probably gay (difficult in 19th C America), his poetry was radical and, at the time, condemned as obscene. His best known work, ‘Leaves of Grass’, exists in many different versions (Whitman revised it and added to it constantly), and the massed voices at the beginning and end of the piece reflect this. The main reading is also from ‘Leaves’ and was chosen for its rhythm and its descriptive qualities (ripe for the addition of [yes, literal – but sometimes literal is good!] fx).
“It’s performed by a duo of Anglo-American voices. Whitman volunteered as a nurse during the American Civil War, treating soldiers from both North and South, and this is also reflected in the piece. The title is from a line of Whitman’s: “A great poem is no finish to a man or woman, but rather a beginning”, and I modestly hope that my piece might be “a beginning” for those unfamilar with Whitman, encouraging further exploration of his remarkable work.”
Readers: Nick & Cheryl St George
Other voices courtesy of librivox.org.
Fx courtesy of freesound.org.
Archive music courtesy of Wikipedia.