Walt Whitman Turns 200!

Posted: June 12, 2019

The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth. To commemorate this momentous occassion, organizations across the country have been busy planning events and exhibitions. For our local Walt Whitman Birthplace, however, preparing for this monumental celebration has been a far longer, more intensive affair. I recently sat down with Ms. Cynthia Shor, Executive Director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, to get a glimpse into the detailed planning and execution involved in the bicentennial celebrations.

Ms. Shor shared that the Birthplace began making arrangements for Whitman’s 200th anniversary celebration over three years ago! Since then, the Association has made significant improvements to create a more interactive experience for visitors, including technologically revamping and transforming the visitor center. Ms. Shor also noted that the Birthplace has made extensive efforts to encourage participation, especially from local students, hosting poetry contests, scholar lectures, debates, and plays about the life of Walt Whitman. The birthday weekend [at the end of May] saw over 700 visitors, including many important town officials, and was marked by special performances and exhibits, poetry readings, musical selections from Whitman’s time, and creative student presentations. 

The birthday weekend kicked off a year-long series of events and celebrations showcasing the life, legacy, and works of America’s favorite poet. If you are yet to explore the Walt Whitman Birthplace, I highly recommend doing so in the near future. For more information about the 200th Bicentennial Events & Programs 2019, visit www.waltwhitman.org.