Our 2019 Bicentennial Calendar includes historic and literary programs to celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday!

2019 Whitman Bicentennial Celebration Year Highlights

Three multi-day conferences/festivals

Multiple poetry events

Four community collaborations

Five “Distinguished Speaker” lectures, comprised of Whitman scholars

Whitman Family Reunion & Oral History Project

Three Whitman-related exhibitions

Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture

Banners in Huntington Township

Proposal to US Stamp Advisory Committee for 2019 issue of Whitman Postage Stamp


January – March     

Commercial Whitman: An exhibition of commercial artifacts of items that used images and the namesake of Walt Whitman on their labels or advertisements, dating from 1920 – present. From the personal collection of Birthplace member Ed Centeno.


February 2019: Poetry Out Loud competition: Collaboration with Poetry Society of America (PSA). WWBA hosts PSAs regional competition of their annual Poetry Out Loud national high school poetry recitation contest. Forty regional finalists compete to become regional champions to progress to national championship competition in Washington, DC


Story Slam: I Hear America Singing, community open mic contest (March & September 2019)


April is Poetry Month 2019: Whitman at 200: Distinguished Speakers series

Performing Poetry 3-workshop series


April – June

Photography Exhibition of WWBA Poets in Residence: Photography by B.A. Van Sise, professional photographer and fifth-generation descendant of Walt Whitman. Poets were photographed as an extension of their poetry. Van Sise offers 15 interpretive portraits of notable American poets who have presided at the Birthplace, displayed alongside their poetry.

April 6-7, 2019

2019 WWBA Poet-in-Residence Weekend

April 6:  Nationally acclaimed Poet-in-Residence conducts Poetry Writing Workshop, and offers evening reading. Open to the public

April 7:  Poet-in-Residence officiates annual student poetry writing Awards Ceremony, honoring 100 winners. 2019 contest theme is “Birthplaces”

May 31 – June 2, 2019  

Whitman Bicentennial Birthday Weekend Celebration

May 31:

  • Whitman scholars David Reynolds & Jerome Loving offer panel presentation 10:30 am – 12 pm
  • Collaboration for the Final Session of “Whitman International Week” held at Birthplace. Group of Scholars attending week-long conference at NYU, and coming to Birthplace on their final day to tour historic site: 1 – 4 pm
  • Afternoon activities include poets’ corner, Whitman-era music and crafts: noon – 5 pm
  • Join fellow Whitman enthusiasts for a “Happy Birthday Hour” at 5 – 6 pm, and toast Walt in honor of his 200thbirthday
  • Compagnia de’ Colombari, a theatre troupe, presents an evening theatrical musical production of Whitman’s words “More Or Less I Am.” Troupe is comprised of 8 actor/singers and 4 musicians and will circulate in Town of Huntington Friday afternoon reciting poetry in open spaces as prelude to evening performance (7:30 – 8:30 pm)
  • Closing Whitman revelries (9 pm)

June 1:

  • High School students attend writing workshop and offer presentation of their poetry
  • Collaboration with local poetry writing group, “Bard’s Initiative,” whose members stage a marathon reading of Leaves of Grassin front of Birthplace

June 2:

  • Musical Presentation and Whitman-era music
  • High School students stage mini-poetry scenes throughout day
  • Docents become historic figures in costume and circulate with visitors
  • Time Capsule unveiling


July 2019: Whitman Family Reunion & Oral History Project


July – October  

WWBA Archive Exhibit: An exhibition of books and artifacts from the private collection of the Whitman Association, to include Whitman family quilts, books signed by Whitman, the Whitman Family Bible, historic photographs, deeds, and documents.


August 9-11

Inaugural International Whitman Festival: Cultural Arts Celebration


 August 9: Convening of international presenters

Afternoon panel presentations

Student Poetry Writing workshop

Evening Musical Performance

August 10: Whitman Scholar Ed Folsom, Keynote Speaker

Panel Presentation

Evening theatrical performance

August 11: Panel Presentations

Student Poetry Presentations


September 2019: Former Congressman Steve Israel, Whitman as the Poet of Democracy


October 5, 2019: Whitman researcher Zachary Turpin, ‘Missing Me One Place, Search Another’: Thoughts on Finding More Whitman (and Even More Whitman) in the 21st Century


October – December

Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture

Lecture offered by Barbara Bair, MA, PhD, Specialist in Literature in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress who oversees the three main Whitman collections.  She will showcase facsimile items from the Whitman collection along with their historical narratives.

6 Walking With Whitman: Poetry in Performance readings (TBA)

Check out the Walt Whitman Initiative’s International Whitman Week (May 27 – June 1, 2019)! 

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