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The Meeting of two Literary Giants in Camden – Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s admiration for Walt Whitman and his poetry is well-known.  What is little known today is that these two literary giants once met right here in Camden, New Jersey.  Although the meeting took place on January 18, 1882, two years before Whitman purchased and moved into his house on Mickle Street (at that time he was living with his brother George at 431 Stevens St.), the poet later recalled this momentous event in a discussion with his friend and biographer Horace Traubel. Come visit us on Mickle Street (today’s Mickle/MLK Jr. Blvd.) at the historic home of the “Good Gray Poet” on Saturday’s in January and February where we’ll discuss these reminiscences and more.   For tour times and availability, call 856-964-5383.

While in Camden, enjoy another nearby literary landmark, Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library which will be highlighting the historical meeting of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman:

"Everything is Going on Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia"

On display from January 23-April 26 at the Rosenbach Museum & Library. This exhibition focuses on the life and work of Oscar Wilde; highlighting his historic and ongoing connections and influence in Philadelphia.  One of the most famous cultural personalities of all time, Wilde gave a series of lectures throughout the country in 1882 and made a lasting impression on the Philadelphia area. Wilde materials from several public and private collections will be placed alongside unpublished materials on display for the very first time. For more information, visit here:

Walt Whitman in Mickle Street
When asked why he chose Camden as his home, Whitman replied, "Camden was originally an accident, but I shall never be sorry I was left over in Camden, It has brought me blessed returns." Join us for a tour of Walt Whitman's home in Camden on Mickle Street (today's Mickle/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard). Here we will explore the great writer's last residence, discuss everyday life and share the thoughts of the many visitors who came to see the aging poet in his final years. Admission is free. Call 856-964-5383 for tour times and to schedule a visit.
*Please Note: Tour times and availability are subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm site hours and tour availability. (856) 964-5383.

Previous Events:

Song of Myself Marathon

In partnership with Rutgers University-Camden Whitman Studies Program and the Walt Whitman Association, the Walt Whitman House will be offering special tours all day for participants of a “Song of Myself Marathon” to be held on the Rutgers Campus in the Stedman Gallery on Thursday November 13th at 4pm.

Bursting onto the literary scene in July of 1855 with his first edition of “Leaves of Grass”, readers were introduced to the iconic poetic masterpiece, “Song of Myself” - a celebration of the importance of the individual in light of the new American Democracy.  Whitman’s poem introduced the world to a new poetic form while casting off the intellectual chains of the Old World.  With Song of Myself, Whitman started a poetic journey that continues to unfold today.  Come join us!

Contact the Whitman studies program at 856-225-6306 if you wish to participate in the reading.  For further information on tours of the Walt Whitman House, call 856-964-5383

The Walt Whitman Association Sponsors:

American Boychoir Performance of “I Hear America Singing” at Cooper University Hospital

The American Boychoir, one of the finest musical ensembles in the United States, will perform at Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ, in the Roberts Pavilion lobby on Friday, November 22, 2013, at 12:15 p.m. for patients and visitors as they release a new CD based on the work of America’s poet Walt Whitman called “I Hear America Singing”.

Under the leadership of Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director, the American Boychoir has dazzled audiences with its unique blend of musical sophistication, spirited presentation, and ensemble virtuosity.

Boys in fourth grade through eighth grade, reflecting the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of the United States, come from across the country and around the world to pursue a rigorous musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. The legacy of the American Boychoir is preserved through an extensive recording catalog, which boasts over 45 commercial recordings and the launch of its own label, Albemarle Records.

Camden was Walt Whitman’s home for the last 19 years of his life.  It was here that he gained international recognition and completed the last edition of his hallmark book of poetry, Leaves of Grass; the choir thought no better place than to share their new album than in the heart of Camden at Cooper University Hospital nearby where the poet lived at 328 Mickle Boulevard – the location of today’s Walt Whitman House Historic Site. Whitman’s attending physician at the time of his death in 1892, Dr. Alexander McAllister, was a practicing physician from Cooper Hospital and also later a trustee of the Walt Whitman Association. The Poet’s home, today’s Walt Whitman House Historic Site, is located just two blocks from the hospital on Mickle Boulevard also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Walt Whitman Association was originally founded as a group of Whitman friends and supporters during the author’s life in Camden. The Walt Whitman Association is the oldest existing Whitman society in the world. Its mission is to support the preservation of his home in Camden and to promote the life works and legacy of America’s “Great Poet of Democracy”.

Event Location:  Cooper University Hospital
                              Roberts Pavilion lobby
                              One Cooper Plaza
                              Camden, NJ 08103
                              (856) 342-2000

2012 Birthday Celebration Guest Speaker – Paul J. Stankard – Artist in Glass

For this year’s Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration, we are honored to have as our guest speaker, the distinguished glass artist, Paul J. Stankard. An avid admirer of Walt Whitman, Stankard is one of the most prestigious and world-renown glass artists, famed for encasing his extremely delicate sculptures of flowers and insects in globes or cubes of clear glass. He is the recipient of numerous awards and holds two honoree doctorates. Stankard's work has shown across the United States and Europe and in Japan and Taiwan. He is currently a Fellow at the Corning Museum of Glass and serves as a founding board member of the Creative Glass Center of America in Millville, New Jersey.

Paul Stankard finds many corresponding themes between his work and that of Walt Whitman:

“From the beginning, I was drawn to Whitman's response to Nature, his view of life as a creative spiritual journey, his references to native flowers, insects and birds which are the subjects of much of my own work. I love the way he takes seemingly ordinary experiences and shows them to be miracles. A simple flower is symbolic of the mystery of living things: "A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.””

"As an artist who has worked with my hands in glass for 35 years, the line 'the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery' continues to amaze me. And the native flowers he chose to write about like pokeberries and common mullein are easily overlooked, ordinary. He speaks of the ant's perfection, the egg of a wren.”

"Experiencing the plant kingdom with Whitman energizes me. I have internalized his works with my feelings to recapitulate and rework those feelings in glass. His work informs my aesthetic and elevates my expectations of myself as an artist. What Whitman did with words, I seek to do with glass on a visual level. My dream is to articulate fresh information about nature in glass. My work is driven by respect for living things, and by delicacy and detail. I try to match Whitman's depth of feeling with my own passion and skill. You have to bring something to Whitman - it isn't immediately available at first. I want from the viewer the same openness, curiosity, and maturity that are needed for Whitman's work. "

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