Friday, May 18, 2012

Final Project! and course review

YouTube is a pain! I never would have guessed how long it would take to upload three videos! My computer is a little crappy, but still it's ridiculous!

First Video: A reading/"writing"/re-enactment of excerpts from the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass and the (at the time) untitled first poem. - I tried my best to tap the younger, and rough neck Walt in this reading, and I was definitely digging the vibe I got out of it. *This video isn't syncing correctly. I am working on uploading it correctly, if at all possible I really hope that it is since this video is more visual/performance based, rather than audio based*

Second Video: A reading/"writing" of excerpts from the 1892 version of Song of Myself - I put on a nice shirt, sweater, and tie, and tried to evoke the Whitman that was in revision mode. Not the savage of nature, but the man revising incessantly. Thus I sat myself down, and tried to really focus on my language/delivery here.

Third Video: Me rambling. About nothing probably. I suffer from stage fright, so I just start letting words mindlessly spill from my brain to my lips. If you couldn't tell before, I'm a bit awkward...

I feel like doing this project really helped me to understand Whitman even further. I definitely got a chance to feel the pain, pressure, and panic of revision. I also felt the constant stress of making sure things were correct and how I wanted them to be in each piece. Even though my original artistic visions weren't able to be realized (due to limitations in both time and my technological abilities), I am proud with what I was able to film. I really liked doing the 1855 version. I found it to be so much fun, like I was acting, rather than reciting poetry. I felt Walt's energy. I really tapped into him for this project. I tried to walk in his shoes and see how I felt in his world, both Walt the man and Walt the poet. I picked some of my favorite passages to read, and I really feel like they went together well.

And lastly, my review of the class!!!

I really liked this class a lot. I feel like I not only learned a lot, but gained a lot out of this class. I learned a lot about Whitman, his poetry, his peers, his America, but I also gained a new appreciation and fondness for Whitman that I never had before. I really enjoyed the structure of the class. Writing blogs was a lot of fun. I didn't care for tweet of the week, however. I loved the topics and the research, just not the Twitter aspect. I felt like it was not completely necessary. I really enjoyed the Thursday class schedule, however, I think that maybe one Tuesday class a month could be beneficial. I really learned a lot in class every day, and I feel like I could have learned more with a few additional classes. Other than that, I really love the Specimen Days assignments. I think that was my favorite part of the Tuesday classes. I thought it was really interesting to get to take some nightly strolls with Whitman and pick his brain a bit. I also really liked the student run discussions at the finale of the semester. I was pushed into learning more about authors that I probably wouldn't have looked up myself, and really enjoyed discovering some new and interesting things. I also enjoyed reading my comrade's blogs. I felt like I learned a lot from their wonderful insights! And last, but definitely not least, I loved your personal insights and knowledge sharing in class, Hanley. When my comrades (and myself) were silent and unresponsive to your questions, you managed to bring everyone back in with anything that you had to bring up about Walt and his time. So thank you for teaching a wonderful semester!

-Todd Ehmke

Thursday, April 26, 2012


After reading The Book of the Dead, I felt... I don't know, let down?
I thought about the relationship between myself (the reader), the text, and the author, and I ended up feeling cheated out in a sense. I felt like the relationship was very slim, I felt disconnected from the work. I felt as if I couldn't relate to the emotion of the poem, whereas in "Lilacs..." I could. 

I also felt overloaded with imagery in Rukeyser's work. I began to feel weighed down by image after image, especially in the beginning. I don't get this with Walt. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Project...

I've been mulling this over in my head for a while now. I think what I've finally decided to do is another YouTube-ing of Whitman. I want to focus on the words themselves and explore various pronunciations and pauses throughout my reading. I'm still not one hundred percent on what poem I want to use, but I will find something that I can piece together a cohesive video with. I'm also thinking of exploring the various revisions of LoG to really find the words and punctuation that suit my video/audio best. In a way, I truly want to "remix" Whitman to come up with my own re-mastered Whitman poem.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


There have been a few things touched on in class that I've found to be completely interesting and when it comes to choosing one to focus on, I've found great difficulty.

I fully enjoyed the YouTubing Whitman project as I felt like it helped me to understand the raw power of Whitman's poetry. My only problem with that project was that I didn't spend more time with it. I feel like I could've made my video much better if only I had not limited myself to a simple reading. If I were to expand on this project I would make it much longer and take a lot more time to really dive in and immerse myself on Walt's words.

The other project that I enjoyed a lot and have thought about expanding my research on is finding Whitman references/influences in mass culture. If I expanded this research I would reach closer into films and literature to find more instances of Walt. I would also not limit my research to only American references, but attempt to examine his influence, if any, in other countries.

I'm very torn between these two projects and have, as of yet, not decided on one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I really liked this piece for a variety of reasons. First of all it reminded me of a lot of pop culture which, in light of recent posts, really strikes me as interesting. Maybe Walt is in more pop culture than we know. Walt goes through eight years of his life in a short paragraph and is astounding at his ability to cram so much information into such a limited amount of space. It reminded me of Watchmen, both the graphic novel and the film, in which Dr. Manhattan, a super natural lead character, narrates most of his life's big events in a short series of panels (or minutes in the film's case). The voice of this piece also reminded me of a sort of Vonnegut Jr.- like voice. It was quick, to the point, yet oh, so descriptive.

I also liked the fact that Whitman mentions his own publication of Leaves of Grass in this piece. He mentions a little about how he left pieces out and briefly mentions that he had some difficulties in editing (even though this was one of his favorite pastimes with later editions). This piece really gave me a great insight into the mind of Walt, how it worked, and how he worked.

Tupperware? More like Tupper War.

Martin Farquhar Tupper. You've got to love the name Farquhar. He should've just dropped the Martin and gone by his middle name, maybe he would've lasted with a name like that. Though sadly, Tupper seems to be one of those poets that will only be mentioned in slight passing, having a page or two among a thousand in an anthology somewhere. When researching a poet and reading something like "His blank verse is just prose cut up into suitable lengths" you can assume that they aren't the most talented or memorable poet. Nonetheless, Tupper was still popular in Britain, and though he failed miserably at first in America he managed to sell about one million copies of his Proverbial Philosophy in America in 1867. This year stuck out to me and after scratching my head for a few moments I had realized why. What was the reason I was looking up Tupper in the first place? Oh yeah... WALTY!

Old Walt put out an edition of Leaves of Grass in 1867. His sales would have been in competition with Tupper! Not only had these two authors been compared and reviewed alongside each other, they were now selling against each other. From what I read, this wasn't a great edition as far as selling goes for Walt either. Looks like he may have lost that battle, but isn't always the war that matters? Tupper probably isn't taught too often in school, and his books probably aren't flying off of the shelves anymore (it actually might take some searching to actually find one). On the other hand, Whitman is taught frequently and people still purchase his poetry for the sake of a good read. One had his time, the other is timeless. Looks like Walt has won the war. Sorry, M. Farquhar Tupper (See, what did I say? Has much more of a ring to it). 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Extree! Extree! Read all about it! Walt Whitman is all over the media!

First thing's first. What's hot? The Occupy movement had its moment of shining glory and still pops up in the news from time to time. So Hell, why not use that opportunity to quote Whitman? It's effective isn't it? Whitman is a well known author, and people are bound to recognize his poetry. I found this picture to be appropriate for the times as Occupy became a very hot topic in mass culture, not only in America, but world wide. 

Second is yet again another The Simpsons reference to old Walter. While I could not find a video of this particular clip it is apparent that Lisa is reading Leaves of Grass to a beached whale. Attempting to console the poor dying creature in its dying moments (Very Walt Whitman of you, Lisa). Of course Bart Simpson would be doing the exact opposite and being a jerk to the dying whale. That was, of course, easy to find a clip of. I've included a picture of Lisa and video of Bart to show the contrasting characters, and just for a bit of fun.

"The world below the brine; Forests at the bottom of the sea—the branches and leaves, sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds…" Quote from Lisa, from Walt, to the whale. 

Finally, to wrap up my fun discovery night, I leave you with a meme (one of my favorite forms of recent internet culture). This particular type of meme usually portrays Ryan Gosling saying some form of pick-up line, and they are typically hilarious. I was delighted to find this one, and must say it's one of my new favorites. 

I find it interesting that Whitman has been alluded to in film, music, television, and even new forms of internet media. There might never be an end to the quotability and relativity of Walt Whitman.