Long Island Celebrates Walt Whitman Bicentennial With Weekend Celebrations

Walt Whitman

May 31 marks the 200th birthday of world-renowned poet and Long Island native Walt Whitman, whose work Leaves of Grass is considered one of the most extraordinary collections of poetry ever published.

The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in Huntington will be hosting celebrations for the occasion packed full of fun events for all to enjoy throughout the bicentennial weekend. Events include poetry readings, panels, workshops, and music.

There will be a panel presentation by scholars David Reynolds and Jerome Loving, who have spent their careers analyzing Whitman’s body of work and life story, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday at the historic site. Loving wrote Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself, which includes previously unearthed newspaper writings. Reynolds is an award-winning author who wrote Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography.

Shortly after the panel, there will be a Poet’s Corner that will include readings from Whitman’s greatest works running from 12 to 5 p.m. Additionally, visitors will have the chance to listen to music from Whitman’s era, alongside creating fun, colorful crafts. Whitman enthusiasts will then hold a Happy Birthday Hour in celebration of the author. Members will lead a toast starting at 5 p.m.

The organizers will also host weekend-long events at Radisson Hotel in Hauppauge starting at 6 p.m. Friday, with readings of Whitman’s Apprentices at 7 p.m. and Poets to Come at 8:30 p.m. Additional readers, panels, and performances follow at the hotel Saturday and Sunday.

Related Story: Walt Whitman’s Long Island Roots

At the historic site, there will also be an exquisite Poet’s Picnic from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday that will conclude with a musical presentation, that will include musical selections from Whitman’s era, among other events at the birthplace through Sunday.

The bicentennial event will be a stand-out event showcasing all of the beloved aspects of Walt Whitman’s life, and greatest work. Guests are encouraged to join, and help donate to the celebration.

In addition, the Huntington site will be holding tours of Whitman’s birth home from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with a $5 fee. The site is home to where Whitman’s parents raised him, alongside his two siblings in the early 19th century.

For a full listing of events, visit waltwhitman200.com and waltwhitman.org $15-$100. May 31-June 2.  

Events will be held at Radisson Hotel, 110 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge, and at Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, 246 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station.

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