Unlaunch'd Voices: An Evening with Walt Whitman
Presenter: Stephen Collins
This program opens with the elderly Whitman on the evening of his seventieth birthday. The audience is a visitor in his room as he prepares for his birthday celebration. Whitman begins to reminisce during the telling. He transforms into his young vibrant self and we begin to trace back with him the experiences that led to the creation of Leaves Of Grass, his lifetime work. The first part of the performance explores Whitman's preoccupation with the self and his resolve to write with "free and brave thought..." In the second part of the performance, Whitman's life is changed forever by the Civil War. It is here that he finds "the most important work of my life," nursing the wounded soldiers in the hospitals. Through Stephen Collins' recitation of poetry and readings of actual letters, we experience Whitman's movement from selfishness toward selflessness and his growth into a mature artist who is at peace about "himself, God and death."