Get Ready for a Busy Bicentennial Celebration of Walt Whitman With Programs Across the Borough

Walt Whitman in 1891. Photo by Thomas Eakins via New York Public Library


    With everything from a beard and mustache competition to scholarly lectures, there’s something for anyone wanting to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth.

    Born on May 31, 1819, on Long Island, Whitman became one of America’s most influential 19th century poets. He was a Brooklynite for 28 years and went through many changes in career — printer, journalist, teacher.

    Walt Whitman photographed circa 1860 to 1865. Photo by Matthew Brady via National Archives

    More than 50 programs across the region are highlighted in a Walt Whitman Initiative guide to the birthday festivities. We’ve highlighted just a few of the Brooklyn events below. To view the full calendar, check out the details here.

    Brooklyn Public Library – Central Library
    May 18 and 19
    A full weekend of events at the library will include music, poetry and talks about the work, life and legacy of Whitman. Some of the programs include a panel with poets Vijay Seshadri and Kimiko Hahn, performances by Brooklyn Art Song Society and an exhibition of Whitman materials from the Brooklyn Collection archives. For all the details visit their Whitman event page here.

    Green-Wood Cemetery
    Saturday, May 18
    10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    Take a trolley tour past the burial places of those Whitman knew and wrote about. To reserve tickets visit the event page here.

    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    Sunday, June 2
    4 to 6:30 p.m.
    Join in on the 16th annual “Song of Myself” Marathon, this year with a Stonewall theme. If you want to perform a selection of Whitman’s work, contact the Walt Whitman Initiative here.

    Fort Greene Park
    Saturday, June 8
    12 to 2 p.m.
    Brooklyn Public Library, Coney Island USA, and Fort Greene Park Conservancy are banding together for the Walt Whitman Beard Competition. There’s a promise of celebrity judges who will award prizes for real and costume beards in Whitman-themed categories. You can check out the categories here.

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