CAMDEN, NJ — All month long (and even beyond), numerous attractions from performances to tours to art galleries are being held across Greater Philadelphia in celebration of Walt Whitman's 200 birthday.
As the place where the iconic poet spent his final years, Camden is set to commemorate the official day, Friday, May 31, at the Whitman downtown home with a program that kicks off a weekend of local festivities. The morning will include guest speakers and poetry readings, focusing on the time Whitman spent in the city.
The man who is among the most influential American poets first arrived in Camden in 1873 when his mother was ill, and after he suffered a stroke months earlier. Whitman stayed at different places in the city when in 1884 he purchased the house at 328 Mickle St. (Martin Luther King Blvd.). He would reside there until his death in 1892, at age 72.
Those in Camden looking to take in more of Whitman's history leading up to the bicentennial bash can check out these offerings:
- Debuted last week at Camden FireWorks, the "Out of the Cradle" exhibition features paintings by Joe Plageman that spotlight Whitman's poetry and nature works. It runs through June 28.
- The Walt Whitman Historic House Site has ongoing "legacy" specialty tours that will continue into select days of the coming week (reservation required).
- On Wednesday, May 29, catch recitations of the winning poems of an annual Walt Whitman High School Poetry Contest at the Rutgers-Camden Stedman Gallery.
- Stedman Gallery then on Thursday, May 30 will debut "Democratic Vistas: Whitman, Body and Soul," an exhibition looking at Whitman's influence on eight artists. It is active through Dec. 7.