“‘Look Back on Me’: New England Celebrates the 150th Anniversary of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass” will be an inter-disciplinary program involving the talents and resources of six departments at CCSU – English, Theater, Music, Art, Media, and the Elihu Burritt Library. The overall significance of “‘Look Back on Me’” is to 1) reconsider the legacy of what is arguably the most influential contribution to American letters in the past 150 years, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; and 2) to promote the arts in the central Connecticut area and New England. The program will be a unique synthesis of scholarship, poetry, music, the visual arts, and drama, and will bring together a range of talents, from emergent undergraduate and graduate poets and scholars to the most distinguished scholars and poets in the field, including five exceptional guest speakers: the two most prominent Whitman biographers in literary studies, David S. Reynolds, whose _Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography_ won the Bancroft Prize, and Jerome Loving, whose _Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself_ is one of the most comprehensive biographies of the “good gray poet”; Karen Karbiener, a dynamic instructor of Whitman’s poetry at New York University; Martin Espada, a major Latino poet whose verse is consistently compared to Whitman’s; and Billy Collins, the former United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003) and the most popular American poet in recent history. Reynolds, Loving, Karbiener, Espada, and Collins will all take part in an open panel discussion on Whitman and his legacy September 23rd.
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