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

Five Whitman-related exhibitions

Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture


January – March 2019: WWBA presents Walt Whitman’s Prose and Poetry in Products and Advertisements, 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: WWBA hosts the regional competition of the annual Poetry Out Loud national high school poetry recitation contest in collaboration with Poetry Society of America (PSA). Forty regional finalists will compete to be part of PSA’s national championship competition in Washington, DC.

April – June 2019: “Children of Grass” Photography Exhibition by B.A. Van Sise, fifth-generation descendant of Walt Whitman. Van Sise offers 15 interpretive portraits of notable American poets who have served as visiting poets and/or WWBA Poets-in-Residence, alongside their poetry. For National Poetry Month (April), WWBA  presents “Whitman at 200: Distinguished Speakers Series” and “Performing Poetry: A 3-workshop series.”

April 6-7, 2019: 2019 WWBA Poet-in-Residence Weekend. On April 6, our nationally acclaimed Poet-in-Residence for 2019 offers a Poetry Writing Workshop and evening reading. On April 7, the Poet-in-Residence will officiate our 33rd Annual Student Poetry Contest Awards Ceremony, which honors approximately 100 young poets each year.

May 31 – June 2, 2019: Whitman Bicentennial Birthday Weekend Celebration

All activities FREE unless otherwise noted. No registration required! 

May 31: Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday! Whitman scholars David Reynolds & Jerome Loving hold a panel presentation from 10:30am – 12pm. The Final Session of the Walt Whitman Initiative’s “Whitman International Week” is held at the Birthplace. Groups of Scholars attending the week-long celebration are coming to Birthplace on their final day to tour our historic site from 1pm – 4pm. From 5pm – 6pm, join fellow Whitman enthusiasts for a “Happy Birthday Hour” and toast Walt in honor of his 200th birthday. Compagnia de’ Colombari presents “More Or Less I Am,” a music- theater piece drawn from Walt Whitman’s 1855 “Song of Myself.” The troupe, comprised of 8 actor/singers and 4 musicians, will circulate in the Town of Huntington Friday afternoon reciting poetry in open spaces as prelude to evening performance (7:30pm – 8:30 pm). Closing Whitman revelries take place at 9pm.

June 1: Poet’s Picnic. A musical presentation featuring Whitman-era music. We will also host a collaboration with the “Bard’s Initiative,” a local poetry group, to stage a marathon reading of Leaves of Grass in front of the Birthplace.

June 2: High School and College students attend writing workshops and offer presentations of their poetry. Students stage mini-poetry scenes throughout the day. Docents as historic figures in costume circulate with visitors.

June 2019: Stonewall Talk

July 2019: Whitman Family Reunion & Oral History Project

July – October 2019: WWBA Archive Exhibit. An exhibition of books and artifacts from the WWBA archive is on display. This exhibit includes Whitman family quilts, books signed by Whitman, the Whitman Family Bible, historic photographs, deeds, and documents.

August 9-11, 2019: Walt Whitman International Festival

August 9: Walt Whitman  Festival – Day 1: convening of international presenters, afternoon panel presentations, a student poetry writing workshop, and an evening musical performance.

August 10: Day 2. Whitman Scholar Ed Folsom is the Keynote Speaker. The Festival continues with more panel presentations and an evening theatrical performance.

August 11: Day 3. The final day of the festival includes panel and student poetry presentations.

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

November 2019: Former Congressman Steve Israel presents his lecture: “Whitman as the Poet of Democracy.”

October – December 2019: Library of Congress Facsimile Exhibit and Lecture. Presented by Barbara Bair, MA, PhD, Specialist in Literature in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. Bair oversees the three main Whitman collections, and will showcase facsimile items from the Whitman collection along with their historical narratives. “Walking with Whitman: Poetry in Performance” joins local and national poets for an Open Mic, Musical Interlude, Featured Poet, Q&A and Book Signing. (Dates TBA).

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

Copyright ©2018 Walt Whitman Birthplace Association. All Rights Reserved.