Troupe to read aloud Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”



Wynne Guglielmo is directing Lamoine Community Arts’ staged reading of selected poems from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” Saturday-Sunday, March 16-17, at the Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall. STEVEN CALLAHAN PHOTO

LAMOINE — Lamoine Community Arts will present an unadorned production of selected poetry readings from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March, 17, at the Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall. Refreshments will be served during intermission.

Come join director Wynne Guglielmo and 10 readers to listen to and delight in Whitman’s poetry of Walt Whitman in the troupe’s performance space called Black Box Theatre for this production. Faith Perkins and Jim Croteau will provide musical accompaniment.

Whitman was a journalist, teacher, government clerk and volunteer nurse during the Civil War. Publishing his seminal work “Leaves of Grass with his own money in 1855, Whitman reaches out to the common person in us all.  By embracing the leaves and grasses of nature, he awakens the awe and wonder in ourselves. He continued expanding and revising this collection of poems until his death in 1892.

The rhythm and cadence of this humanistic free verse rise above pettiness and egoism as Whitman speaks of the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly — the germs of all.  In “Song of Myself,” the crux of “Leaves of Grass,” he unites himself with Everyman from the lowliest to the highest in that “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

In poems like “Salut au Monde” and “Song of the Broad Axehe applies muscles to work, hands to healing, human vision to nature, and human heart to love of friend, foe, neighbor, foreigner and immigrant. Whitman committed himself to love even those who cannot return love.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO FROM THE CHARLES E. FEINBERG COLLECTION

He explores grief in “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” a poem that he wrote in memory of President Lincoln.

We experience the profound effects of the Civil War on Whitman and humanity in “Eighteen Sixty-One” and “The Wound Dresser.” For miles and miles he trekked, covered in muck, carrying water and bandages to succor the injured soldier. Some were maimed for life, but Whitman in his deeds and verse encourages them and us to carry on with strong heart. As he is faithful to the wounded, he urges the weary in them and us to not give out, to “strive for an intense life, full to repletion and varied.

In every poem and verse of the “Leaves of Grass,” Whitman encourages people to look, listen, support, laugh, struggle, forge onward and carry each other, despite their differences, so that their lives and death be not in vein.

Doors open a half-hour before performances. Admission is by donation. The Grange hall is located at 184 Douglas Highway. For more information, call 667-6564.

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