Bolton to host UK premiere films celebrating Walt Whitman

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HE is recognized by many as America’s greatest poet and Bolton has an enduring fascination with Walt Whitman (1819 -1892).

His close ties to the city and the north of England are a fascinating aspect of the life of the ‘good gray poet’.

On Saturday, the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery will present the UK premiere of ‘Whitman on Walls!’, an American-British collaboration which will launch a series of seven short films featuring more than 50 global actors and 40 local Bolton artists

In 2020, Karin Coonrod, theater director, writer, and lecturer at the Yale School of drama, crafted “Whitman on Walls!” (WoW!), a new hybrid event bringing together living poets and film, described as a drive-in meets poetry slam.

Following performance cancellations caused by the Covid pandemic, Coonrod and Compagnia de’ Colombari, the theater company she founded in 2004, turned her original stage production of Whitman’s poem More Or Less I Am into seven short films.

Lovers of author, Walt Whitman, at Barrow Bridge, Bolton, during poetry reading and march..Images by Steve Holt, Bolton News, Saturday 30th May 2015..

Towards the end of his life, the poet developed a close friendship with a group of admirers at Bolton who became known as the Bolton Whitman Fellowship, The Whitmanites.

A birthday greeting sent by one of the group’s members, JW Wallace, turned into regular transatlantic written correspondence between the poet and the Whitmanites. They celebrated his birthday every year on May 31 — a tradition still carried on in the city today — and some of them visited him at his home in New Jersey.

Lovers of author, Walt Whitman, at Barrow Bridge, Bolton, during poetry reading and walk.  Flo Wood's Reading Book..Images by Steve Holt, Bolton News, Saturday 30th May 2015..

Lovers of author, Walt Whitman, at Barrow Bridge, Bolton, during poetry reading and walk. Flo Wood’s Reading Book..Images by Steve Holt, Bolton News, Saturday 30th May 2015..

Seven plaques depicting lines from Whitman’s works are in Bolton, Adlington and Rivington.

Recorded over three weeks, with more than 50 artists from around the world, the seven films featured in Whitman on Walls! embody the words of Whitman.

As the work travels around the world, each film will be followed by a local poet who rises and “answers Whitman” in his own words, challenging him or quarreling with him, thus weaving film and live recitation.

Register for the free event via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wow-whitman-on-walls-tickets-342627186137

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